Equality, Acceptance, Empowerment, Self-discovery, Embracing Uniqueness – Speaking Today With Alex Collins And Celebrating Pride Month.
Alex, Can you share your journey of self-discovery and how you identified as a transgender woman?
From childhood, as young as five, I knew I was female and should have been female.
As I grew up, I felt the pressures from society to keep all this hidden. Watching my female friends develop into women was difficult, especially as I knew my potential to look and live female. Even when I lived as a boy, people thought I was female.
Then, at 22, I started to embrace my femininity and grow from there. so this transition has been an organic slow burner.
How did you become interested in hair education and fashion, and what motivated you to pursue a career as an influencer in these fields?
I worked in a salon doing hair for 15 years. I love doing hair but had a natural talent for teaching other stylists I was working with until I got to the point where I had achieved all I wanted to in a salon environment, and the next step was to follow my passion for coaching other stylists.
How do you use your platform to promote inclusivity and diversity within the hair and fashion industries?
My Instagram is honest; I don’t sugar coat anything. I share real things about work events, fashion events and my experience about being trans in this environment. if I can do it, anyone can.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced as a transgender woman in the influencer industry, and how have you overcome them?
Some of the main challenges I have experienced being trans in this online environment are trolls; this has not been too bad, but when I get them, I GET THEM! The other side of this challenge is getting vulgar messages from men. The mindset of men who like transwomen is wrapped in a very dark world where they treat us like sexual trash/objects and think we will accept it. I certainly will not tolerate it.
What role does representation play in the hair and fashion industry, especially for underrepresented communities such as trans women?
The role of a representation from underrepresented people, especially transwomen in the fashion industry, is so important because we need to open the hearts, minds and eyes of the public to our existence. I don’t think people understand the strength and bravery it takes for someone to transition. This has been a personal challenge for me. I’ve done print work, fashion week etc., but no agency will sign me even though I’ve booked work without signing.
How do you stay informed about the latest trends and advancements in the hair and fashion industries and incorporate them into your content?
I dive deep into social media to keep up with the latest fashion and hair trends. It’s the most current way to see how trends evolve in real-time. It can be something so simple as a hemline in the late Mugler collection or a cool section pattern someone uses for a hair colour placement. The design is design, whether it’s fashion, architecture, car design, or hairdressing. The creation process is still the same.
What steps can brands and companies take to be more inclusive and supportive of transgender influencers?
There are more steps brands, and companies can take to include transgender people, and it is simply including us without fuss in stuff they are doing. We have so much variety they will be spoilt for choice! We have so much to offer which will benefit all. Only being visible will keep us all safe and we want to feel safe in public spaces.
Can you share a memorable interaction or message from one of your followers that positively impacted you or reinforced the importance of your work?
When I post my transition story or updates on my Instagram, I get so many comments and messages of support from my followers, but it’s deeper than that. I get messages from other trans people and also parents of trans children that they have hope all will be ok as they watch me go through my transition and that makes every hardship I experience worthwhile.
How do you balance your personal life and the public image you present as an influencer? Are there any boundaries or limits you set to maintain your privacy?
I’m very open about my life on Instagram; it’s therapeutic talking about complicated stuff as I’m getting these feelings out, to be transparent about how I feel during my transition.
The only thing I’m reserved about sharing fully right now is my dating life. I used to share this a lot, but over time I found that I would get more offensive messages from men when I shared.
As a boundary, I report and block many people and horrible content.
What advice would you give to other trans women who aspire to pursue careers in hair education or fashion, particularly as influencers?
Just stay focused, and do not take your eyes off the prize. You can’t control what people think about you, but you show them how amazing you are. Be the difference- people around may not know how to communicate with you as they are so scared they will offend you, so be the coach- people will make mistakes and help them learn.
Can you discuss any upcoming projects or collaborations you’re excited about that your followers can look forward to?
Upcoming projects I have are personal ones; I’m renovating my house, so many updates are happening; I also have some of my own renovations that involve Harley Street, so watch this space.
What are some common misconceptions or stereotypes about transgender women – that you actively work to challenge and debunk?
The misconceptions I would like to debunk about trans people are this – John doesn’t decide to become Jane, or Jane doesn’t decide to become John overnight. Someone who comes out as non-binary also doesn’t happen overnight. This is years and years of accumulating feelings about your gender. Being excluded from the gender you feel you are and being made to feel wrong for acting on these feelings in the pursuit of happiness.
Transitioning isn’t about being on trend or getting attention; it’s about survival. The bravery it takes to step forward into the gender you are is unfathomable. You grieve your childhood, previous/current, future, and romantic relationships- there is so much at stake.
What do you hope to achieve as an influencer regarding broader societal change and acceptance of transgender individuals?
What I hope to achieve is to coach people and help them understand what a true journey it is to transition. With high peaks and shallow valleys, the feedback I have from people is fantastic. I also want to show others you can do it; it’s tough but worth it. Much inspiring that my other trans and gender non-conforming siblings to live their truth is possible; it will be hard but worth it.
What guidance or words of advice do you have for transgender individuals who may be facing challenges with self-acceptance or finding a sense of belonging within the LGBTQ+ community?
My advice for transpeople struggling with self-acceptance or belonging in the lgbtq+ community is not to compare themselves to others. Avoid online content that is too glamorized or manufactured. Social media is fake; seek out real people who tell the whole story. I fell victim to this! Following trans girls who show all the good stuff made me feel like I was doing it all wrong.
Baby steps – taking one step at a time into the gender/community you want to be part of is crucial. This allows you to adjust, grow organically, learn and move on confidently.
If you get a knockback, that’s part of the process. Take a step back and heal in your own time. The sun will shine again, and so will your confidence. Also, look at how far you have come every now and then. This will give you the fuel to keep going.