We’re posting two new What’s Underneath episodes this week, and each story valiantly confronts the boundaries of gender identity in today’s society.
First up is Self Evident Truths founder, iO Tillett Wright. Having seen iO's powerful Ted Talk, we were completely psyched to hear more details from his unique perspective of growing up free from gender restrictions. As poised in his preppy tartan trousers and starched-white button-down as he is in his androgynous skin, iO doesn’t tolerate bullshit from anybody. At 6, when the boys wouldn’t let him — a “girl” — play soccer with them, iO responded, “Fuck that, I’m a boy. Can I play now? Because I can play better than you, motherfucker!” iO’s parents, as ALL PARENTS SHOULD, accepted their kid’s new gender — as iO tells it, “I feel like a man on the inside yet, because I was never forced into dresses or any of that shit, I don't have the narrative that apparently goes with being transgender where you hate your body. I don't hate my body at all. I don't fit that box. I never fit any fucking box. I'm like the ultimate fucking unicorn.”
At a sleepover, the 11-year-old "unicorn" was hounded by a girl who couldn’t understand why this “boy” wasn’t trying to holler at her. Later on, iO won the heart of the hottest “straight” girl in his England boarding school who showed the arty Bowery kid what a shower was, how to shave his legs, and his own body. We love how iO's ease with his own transgenderism — “that physical in-between place” — gives him the limitless compassion of a true revolutionary. For us, it was revelatory when iO pointed out that the The Machine is anyone who makes someone feel less-than for not conforming: “If you feel like you need that Birkin bag, get the Birkin bag. You have your own voyage to discover what makes you feel good. But when you put that shit on other people, you become The Machine.”
Indeed, iO’s viewpoint has the sharpness of his combat boots and the insight of his Ivy League tortoise shell specs. To see iO in action, watch his What’s Underneath episode above.
Elisa + Lily
iO's video was shot and edited by Andrea Cruz
What's Underneath is produced by Elisa, Lily, & Mona
Follow iO on Instagram: @iolovesyou
Follow iO on Twitter: @ilovesyou
Follow Self Evident Truths on Twitter: @SelfEvidentProj
Follow them on Instagram: @selfevidentproject