Andrew Fitzsimons Uses Beauty for Transgender Activism
Our lives are largely dictated by how we see ourselves, and how we see ourselves is influenced in large part by how others see us. That’s why external transformations can have such a powerful effect on the psyche and change the way we walk through this world. That’s something that Andrew Fitzsimons knows from his daily work in the beauty industry and something he’s hoping to use as a tool for change with TEEP (Transgender Economic Empowerment Project) and the LGBTQ center in Los Angeles.
“Beyond it being a program to help trans women feel confident, what I want to focus on and bring attention to is the gender non-conforming community,” Andrew tells V Magazine. “Coming from the beauty industry, being able to see people express themselves however they choose to, and it isn’t only makeup or hair, but it is about self-care and being your own authentic self.”
Few communities in the US are as vulnerable as the trans community. They face undue discrimination and intense scrutiny just stepping out their doors while they try to live their lives. It can often feel like a daily battle. But by offering the opportunity to lift members of the community up, even through beauty, the effect can be magnanimous.
“I felt like creating a program where myself and my peers (beauty professionals, celebrities, editors) would be able to pool our resources," Andrew says. "We live in an age where cosmetics are one of the biggest industries and we get sent so many products we don’t even know what to do with. So I said 'I’m a feminist, I would love to first and foremost help women.' There was a community of women and non-conforming people that don’t have access to a lot of self-care products. I wanted to built a bridge between the beauty community with a beautiful, vibrant, and growing community and build a bridge not only for beauty professionals to donate and conduct an act of service, but [also] to open up a conversation about why an organization like TEEP exists and why there is a need to help the trans community. Self-esteem plays such a big role in people’s lives and people feeling like their most authentic selves.”
Sometimes the most powerful thing an ally can do for a marginalized group is to speak up and lend a helping hand. That’s exactly what Andrew Fitzsimons is doing with TEEP and the LGBTQ center.
For more information, check out the piece in V Magazine.
Photographs by Greg Swales.