Carmen Carrera is an acclaimed model who rose to fame in her breakout appearance on season three of "RuPaul’s Drag Race." Carrera, who came out as trans after appearing on the Logo TV show, has established herself as a trans activist by starting a national dialogue about transphobic language used on the show. As a model, Carrera has been famously photographed by David LaChapell for the Life Ball, and she campaigned to become the first trans Victoria’s Secret model.
While she hasn’t yet achieved that goal, Carrera is a successful Elite model who was recognized for her work by GLAAD in 2014. “The truth is LGBT culture and fashion go hand in hand,” Naomi Campbell said as she paid tribute to her fellow model. “They flourish in light of making bold and brave statements.”
In honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance, Carrera will join MSNBC for a Facebook chat Friday. Transgender Day of Remembrance began in Baltimore in 1999 as a way to honor the memory of those who died as a result on anti-trans violence. Twenty-two trans people have been killed so far in the U.S. this year, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs.
Friday, as part of MSNBC’s participation in Transgender Day of Remembrance, Carmen Carrera spoke with members of the community to discuss her work and experience. Take a look at highlights from the Q&A with Carrera from MSNBC’s Facebook page:
Nisha C.: What was the hardest part of coming out as trans for you?
Carrera: Hardest part would have to be getting over the fear of being judged. Coming out and wanting to continue interacting with people who know can be difficult because it makes you get into your head a lot.
Quinn M.: What is one thing you want cisgender people to know about being transgender?
Carrera: I would like cisgender people to know that it's difficult for us to fit in and some of us try our entire life to coexist with the rest of the world. Be kind to us and embrace the fact that everyone in this world will never be exactly the same and it's way more interesting to open yourself up to all people and cultures so that when you die you can say you've gotten to know the world. Well, that's how I think anyways.
Laurel M: What inspired you to become a trans activist?
Carrera: I've always had a "stand up for the people" type of personality. I don't like seeing people suffer, and I also think most people aren't aware enough half of the time. I want to inspire strength. I also want to inspire people to create their own happy reality.
Mark M: This is no doubt a tender and difficult question that all LBGT members face. How did your family, friends, and relatives react and handle the news about the announcement of you being transgender? Supportive, I hope, because some may not share that same privilege of support.
Carrera: My family is very supportive, lucky for me. I wasn't sure they would be, but they are. It's actually brought me closer to my family.
Justin R: If you could give one piece of advice to young folks questioning their gender identity, what would that be?
Carrera: Find a support system and take care of YOU. I can't stress that enough. It's important to know that there may be some bumps in the road so loving yourself and finding people who will love you when you don't is crucial. I know during my transition it was difficult for me to stop believing I would be stuck unhappy forever, but that's not true. Physical changes take a while but internal feelings of changing and finding your peace can take way longer. Adjusting and fitting in will happen, patience is so valuable.
Scott J: Hey Carmen! There has been a powerful #TransHealthFail campaign on social media recently. What has been your biggest barrier to accessing quality health care? What changes need to be made in our current health care system/hospitals so it can be an inclusive and welcoming environment for patients who identify as trans? (p.s. I loved you on Drag Race!)
Carrera: Well, first off there isn't enough research! Trans people are given the same exact generalized HRT regime without really knowing why. There is so much more that goes into taking care of our bodies after transition and even after HRT. You would think the medical industry would be more hands-on with their patients who have to go through what we have to go through. It really takes a toll, the medication. I'm sure there are better ways to get the healthy results we need, they just haven't been discovered yet.