Challenging gender norms for a living!
Ivan Fahy is a gender expressive model and sexuality and gender activist. His work demonstrates how self-expression can challenge socially constructed gender roles and ideas. In order to explore gender expression and Ivan’s particular activism, we asked Ivan some questions.
Author Rachel Kuhn
How would you describe your gender identity?
My gender identity is technically cisgender. I was assigned male at birth and I identify as male but I don’t identify with male gender norms. My gender expression is non-cisnormative because I break gender norms.
When did you begin to explore your gender identity?
I began exploring my ‘self’ and gender properly in 2013 when I bought my first pair of high heels. I also had my first androgynous photoshoot that year too. I always knew I was gay and not just masculine but it wasn’t until 2013 that I started to express that side of myself.
What’s your motivation for doing your work as a gender activist?
My motivation is to create change and to remind people that there is no ‘normal’. My motivation is to help someone love and accept themselves by seeing me accepting and loving myself. I want to encourage people to question gender, question norms, question everything! I love when I meet a young person and they come up to me privately and thank me for what I do and they say that my work has helped them. That is my ultimate motivation.
What’s your modeling work like, and is there much demand?
My work is split between being a model, a personality and an activist. As a model, I do many photoshoots and fashion shows, as a personality I do a lot of TV, radio and print interviews and appearances, and as an activist I go into schools, universities and youth groups delivering workshops and talks and I write articles and blogs on gender. All three merge together, they all compliment each other.
There is and isn’t demand. I am very unique as a model and not every designer etc. is confident enough to work with me. I have to prove myself time and time again as being capable in modelling as female. I have more against me as a model than most but I like a challenge. I create my own demand. I’m very visible online and designers and companies come to me. I’m my own agent and agency. It’s a domino effect; the more I do, the more I will be asked to do.
Who are your role models or inspirations?
I don’t have any one role model or inspiration. I draw inspiration from anyone I see being their true self and living their life. I love seeing people being diverse and different.
What’s the most annoying question people ask you?
I always get asked if I ever wear regular boy clothes. Of course I do! My life isn’t 24/7 glam. I love relaxing and wearing no makeup. I only wear high heels when I want to and when it’s appropriate i.e. if I have an event to attend. Your average girl doesn’t wear high heels 24/7 and neither do I!
What’s the most supportive thing someone’s said or done for you?
The most supportive thing people have done for me is accept me for who I am – Ivan – not someone who is different, unusual, trans, maybe-trans, gay, genderqueer, androgynous, etc.