An Open Letter to Victoria's Secret From a TS Woman


Dear Edward Razek and whomever else it may concern,

I have been a Victoria's Secret customer for a decade now. I have revered your brand for my entire adult life. Over the years, I have come to see Victoria's Secret as a celebration of girlishness and high-femininity in a world where such expressions are consistently devalued and undermined.

I grew up with the Victoria's Secret fashion shows, watching each model strut down the runway with wide eyes, thinking "one day I am going to be like her. One day Ill be pretty enough to be in a fashion show too."

I never believed that though. Not any of it. But that didn't matter. Because when I was watching—I got to dream that it was me up on that stage. I got to taste what that was like just for a second.

And for me, getting to experience that, even second hand—was a treasure. Because my girlishness and femininity have long been qualities that I was taught to hide and bury within myself.

The thing is,  I am a transexual woman. You wouldn't necessarily know this if you met me. Not anymore. And I might not even choose to tell you if ever we did meet. Because I am not defined by the fact that I am a TS woman. But when you discover this about me—it is consistently how you choose to define me.

Comments by Edward razek for american vogue

Comments by Edward razek for american vogue

I have come to idolize your brand over the years.

I bought my first bra at Victoria's Secret. I was timid and afraid back then. I didn't have much in the way of breasts. It was a pink bra from your Dream Angels collection. It became something of a security blanket to me. When I was being bullied or pushed out of spaces as a result of my gender identity, I would often allow my finger to touch the band and feel the fabric pressed up against my shoulder. It was a reminder that I was allowed to feel comfortable in my skin—no matter what anyone else thought.

And when I had healed from my breast augmentation surgery, the first place I visited was a Victoria's Secret. I tried with everything I could to fight back tears as one of your employees measured my new cup size, but I couldn't help it. She hugged me when I explained to her what it meant to me and we cried together in the dressing room until my cheeks were hot and puffy. We laughed at at the fact that I was wearing waterproof mascara, but she was not, thinking others might wonder why she had been crying after talking to me.

When I heard your comments, Edward Razek, I felt sick on my stomach. I still do. It feels like one of my heroes—an inevitable cornerstone in my transition—just looked me dead in the eye to tell me “You'll never be good enough.”

“You don't belong here.”

I don't know if one of your heroes has ever looked you dead in the eye, Edward Razek, and told you that you don't belong, so let me tell you—it’s a horrible way to feel. And I don't want to sit with this awful feeling. That's why I am writing you this. And because I know a lot of other trans girls out there felt exactly how I felt when I heard this news.

The thing is, when you're trans--you face this kind of thing a lot. Continuously. So you might say I have had a lot of practice with rejection. One thing I have learned is that when someone rejects you for who you are, it’s just in your best interest to move on with your life and never look back.

This is a lesson I have learned and learned well. But I can't say the same for the young trans girls out there. For many, this will be the first in a series of very deep wounds that this world will inflict on them, purely because of who they are.

..when someone rejects you for who you are, it’s just in your best interest to move on with your life and never look back.

That's the culture you have just taken a very heavy-handed approach to perpetuating.

To any young trans girls who might happen upon this article, let me offer you this advice—go where you are wanted and loved. Those places and spaces exist. They are waiting for you out there, somewhere, in this very moment.

As for you, Victoria's Secret—I will never, EVER shop in one of your stores again. And I would encourage our entire community to do the same.  

And just to go ahead and address the ludicrousness of the comment itself...

You're saying that no TS women will ever be cast in the Victoria's Secret Fashion show because the show is "a fantasy..."

Guess that makes you painfully unaware of the role that we as TS and TG women have been pigeonholed and permanently sequestered into by mainstream society since our inception.

Because Mr. Razek, we are fantasy incarnate.

We drip fantasy from every pore.

Our very breath is seeded with fantasy--at least that's what they would have you think.

See, we are uncomfortably society's fantasy. We are drowning in this fantasy. And the thing is--it's your fantasy. Not ours. We have had our humanity stripped away from us in the name of your fantasies. We have been reduced to walking talking fetishes, as it were, worth little more than a mountain dew fueled, once monthly, porn-hub jack off session to the average man and commanding about as much respect from the average woman.

That's the irony here. You want to play gatekeeper, Razek? Go right ahead. With as much as it meant to me, I'm already over your brand. But if you're going to bar us from your misogynistic, male-gaze-addled fairy tale, you should probably come up with a better reason than that.

Because we know better than any cis woman what it means to be a fantasy.

And you have the nerve to call yourself a leader after that?

Not at all. You're going backwards. You are a testament to what can happen when a very foolish individual is given the capital to lead without having first learned to follow.

Apologize all you want—you can't unthrow a fucking punch once its connected.

I think we're done here.