Veejay Floresca is one of the most popular young designers in the Philippines, his work gracing the covers of many magazines, including MEGA. Early on his career, he was described as the “next face of avant-garde” and was high on the list of most promising young designers. Despite all of the accolades, including stints in several high profile projects, such as the International Competition of Young Fashion Designers (ICYFD) in Paris and the nationally televised Project Runway Philippines, something was off. The shy-looking young man always looked a bit out of step as he would take his bows on the runway.
If the young man always seemed ill at ease, it was because he did not feel at ease with himself.
This year, Veejay officially embraced her true gender and identified herself as a woman. Looking at her current pictures, you’ll see a much different Veejay. The shy young man is gone and in his place a vivacious, lissome young woman blossomed. According to Veejay, it was fellow transgenders Ines Rau and Lea T that inspired her to make the daring decision. Their beauty and successful careers gave her the courage to become who she really was.
As a designer, she understood firsthand how clothes expressed one’s mood and even one’s true self. Despite her initial fears that clients might not be able to deal with her change, things have gone well. To her surprise, many of her clients loved her more after the operation. “Being a transgender is nothing but a fact that you just want to embrace your true self,” says Veejay, “it’s more complicated to live a life full of denials and lies. It’s better to live each day with happiness and freedom.” She’s currently based in the US, pursuing her masters in Fashion Design at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, California.
Veejay acknowledges that this radical change isn’t for everyone. She says, “I work in the creative industry and I am lucky that most people are open and understanding. My creativity and professionalism are two factors that were not affected by my decision to be transgender.” While it’s an overall struggle for the LGBT community to gain equal rights, Veejay notes that being a transgender may be even more challenging, saying that many families are still not open to the idea and certain companies have a strict policy on transgendered people. She says, “Most people are still afraid to reveal the truth about their relationships.”
Living in the US, where LGBT rights is now a hot and divisive topic, Veejay concedes that in the relatively progressive San Francisco area, people are more open and understanding. It’s not quite the case in the Philippines, a fact that she hopes will soon change. – Trina Epilepsia
Read more about LGBT personalities and advocates in “Out and About”, in MEGA Magazine’s March 2014 issue.
View Veejay Floresca’s latest collections here.