Trans Instagram Star Wen Neale Is a Refreshing Face of Male Beauty

Wen Neale—often known as Wen Wen on-line or by his deal with “sippystraw”—is a self proclaimed “introvert” who did not initially intend on changing into a mannequin or on-line determine. Today he has turn out to be one of probably the most adopted Asian, trans males on Instagram, with 35k followers, and a suite of YouTube videos the place he does make-up tutorials and shares his skincare regime, in addition to candidly sharing his experiences with transitioning—from the primary time he minimize his hair to the obstacles he confronted in reserving appointments for hormone injections, and even a tutorial on easy methods to self-inject.

These movies have made him each a pivotal determine within the Asian, trans neighborhood, many of whom observe him on Instagram, and ask him recommendation on easy methods to navigate their relationships with their—typically foreign-born—relations. Wen can also be a refreshing face within the evolving panorama of Instagram type and sweetness, eschewing strict notions of masculine magnificence by way of his private pictures {and professional} modeling work with manufacturers like Omocat. He first drew my consideration by way of his modeling, and later by way of his Youtube movies the place I realized he, like me, is half-Asian.


I spoke with Wen about his on-line and actual life neighborhood, his struggles with being regularly mistaken for Okay-Pop stars, and his tasks for the long run:

VICE: Which social media platforms did you begin with, and the way have been you ‘discovered’?
Wen Neale: The first platform I began with was Tumblr, again in 2012-2013. I didn’t assume a lot of it. I simply recycled posts and thought ‘this is just a platform for me.’ And then I made a Vine and that’s when it took off, when it got here to folks discovering me. I posted funny, random stuff I loved making. One of the favored viners, Thomas Sanders, revined one of mine. He had an insane following—and from there perhaps half of my followers gravitated in direction of my private Instagram. Fortunately I had a lot of open-minded followers. Thomas Sanders is a very optimistic individual, and when he shared my work, his followers adopted me and have been as optimistic as he was.

As for YouTube, even earlier than I knew I used to be trans, some of my associates had talked about that I’d do nicely on video—I’d all the time saved it within the again of my thoughts, however didn’t assume I’d have the endurance or time to do extra movies. So it was this sort of chain response. I’m usually very introverted. I don’t like placing myself on the market a lot, so it’s onerous for me to publish movies typically. But I’m very lucky to have a lot of individuals who actually pushed me to place myself on the market extra.

How did the web neighborhood help you thru transitioning, and what impressed you to begin posting movies about your experiences being a trans Asian man?
I’ve a lot of mutuals who’re additionally trans. Most of my good friend group is within the LGBTQ neighborhood, and are very supportive of me. They even referred me to totally different web sites for binders at a time after I was first coming to the belief that I used to be trans. I all the time had help from my associates, although I didn’t essentially have the identical from my dad and mom on the time. And my boyfriend has been very supportive of me, as all the time. He’s additionally a trans man, and we have been capable of share that feeling of dysphoria. We are additionally each half-Asian!

When I noticed ‘Yeah, maybe I should post videos,’ I believed they need to be about stuff that folks don’t brazenly discuss as a lot. Things like being trans, and going by way of this transition, speaking about hormones, my insecurities typically too. It doesn’t really feel as frequent. I keep in mind simply a few years in the past that trans sources weren’t akin to how they’re now. There weren’t sources previously, and again then, I believed, ‘Hey I want to put information in the world to help others figure themselves out.’

I get a lot of folks DM’ing me by way of Instagram telling me, ‘hey, that video you posted a while ago made me realize I was trans,’ or ‘it encouraged me to try hormones.’ It’s completed a lot of good and made me acquire extra confidence in placing myself on the market.

In your work, you discuss eschewing conventional notions of masculinity. How has that helped you turn out to be extra snug in your personal pores and skin?
I all the time hated this complete ‘hyper-masculinity’ factor. When I first came upon I used to be a trans man, I didn’t really feel like I may do what I needed to as a result of I felt like I had to slot in. I used to be so sad on a regular basis, shopping for tremendous masculine garments, ensuring I used to be not carrying an excessive amount of make-up. It was irritating.

I noticed I ought to simply put on no matter I would like. Even after I was dressing tremendous masculine, I might nonetheless get hate on-line. There are individuals who simply don’t like me—I get hate it doesn’t matter what I do, how I costume, even dressing probably the most masculine I may at the moment. I noticed I ought to make investments time in doing what I love to do as a substitute, particularly if I’ll be hated for it it doesn’t matter what. This time I’ll be completely happy.

I really feel I’m very behind about how I wish to embrace this. I can like female issues, and that doesn’t denounce my gender or imply I’m any much less trans or any much less of a man.

There additionally simply aren’t that many trans Asian males who’re on a public platform.
Mostly, no less than from what I’ve seen, the ‘faces’ of the trans neighborhood aren’t folks of shade.

In explicit, and in my case, there’s simply one thing relatable about having an Asian mother. I believe this 12 months she discovered me being trans. I wasn’t positive that she knew what being trans meant. She is from mainland China. I struggled to translate it to her—perhaps even in Chinese—as a result of I don’t assume she essentially has the idea for what being trans means or what a trans individual is. I can extra simply clarify homosexual relationships, however the language barrier and lack of schooling in regards to the trans neighborhood on the whole makes it very tough. But I believe she understands now.

It looks as if an ongoing relationship.
Our relationship is de facto nice, which is particularly essential. It didn’t was. And I’d truly make a video about it—typically time and therapeutic—that kind of stuff. Lots of half-Asian or full Asian, trans folks observe me. They ask me, ‘since you’re Asian, how can you discuss to your mother?’ I needed to clarify, ‘I haven’t actually advised her, as a result of I don’t understand how, however I believe she simply figured it out.’ It’s relatable.

Have you been affected by American projections of Asian males as ‘effeminate’ and the detrimental connotations within the US?
I’ve solely lately turned ‘passable’—which isn’t the best time period I like to make use of, I extra imply that in public I may be ‘seen as a man.’ But I observed, even initially in San Francisco within the homosexual neighborhood, that males would see me was very female or—I don’t even know, what’s the phrase—’submissive,’ that’s it. Very submissive. I’ve been cat-called on the road.

It’s solely been a couple years the place I’ve been a satisfactory man, and it’s very new to me. There’s a huge distinction between now and the way I used to be handled a couple years in the past after I recognized as a girl. It’s particularly difficult with Okay-Pop changing into such a huge factor—Okay-Pop is superior and funky!—however I dislike the quantity of individuals who love Okay-Pop and take the look of Korean males and put it on me.

I noticed your remark in your movies that folks preserve saying you seem like this or that Korean star.
It’s irritating as a result of, practically each individual they create up—we don’t look something alike! It’s so dangerous. I used to be speaking to my boyfriend and one other good friend who mentioned I wanted to be extra vocal about this. There is a component of my following who solely observe me as a result of I seem like a ‘Korean male actor’ or no matter. And perhaps I have to filter it out.

But that’s not your job!
I do know, I do know. But I principally dislike the concept a handsome Asian individual within the US have to be ‘a Korean star,’ which is so dismissive of folks’s roots. Especially Southeast Asian folks, who get a lot of hate and anti-blackness sentiment. And when folks see an ‘attractive Asian,’ they immediately evaluate us to East Asians.

People will even ask if I’m Japanese or Korean, and after I share that I’m half-Chinese, they’ll take a look at me disappointingly and even with disgust. It’s bizarre. I don’t get it.

That is extraordinarily irritating. On a extra optimistic word, I needed to take a second to thanks for the optimistic messages you ship about making house for everybody to discover their gender id and sexuality.
Oh, thanks. I really feel like I’m being so goofy on a regular basis, and I typically fear that folks can’t inform after I’m being severe.

What tasks do you’ve gotten arising?
I’ve a little online store selling clothes and accessories. It’s been going for 4 years now, however I wish to put extra stuff on it. Making artwork and printing it on garments. I can’t wait to take precise footage of the mockups. I haven’t been doing as a lot artwork as I wish to.

We even have a few artwork associated tasks far down the road. But that is not for an additional 12 months or so!

This interview has been edited for size and readability.

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  1. Hello Jade,u r a very brave girl because of your boys & all your love 2 them & your family & Jack & im glad u did what u have to 4 your boys future u manage it with all u got left inside! I was 27 when my mum died with servical cancer and she was just 49 then me & my sister we were around her 4 month non stop 2 look after her & u know what she told us,that when people died we can contact them and even send a flowers or any gift we just have to imagine that while we looking at the candlelight-so i know that my mum loved yellow flowers so when ever im lonely or sad i lite a candle & while im looking at it i thinking about my mum and i send her bunch of yellow flowers so she recieve them straight away & i imagine that the flowers fly away out there in a dark, long way but with our thoughts that is instant,God bless u bird & i wish u and your boys all the best & still hoping 4 that miracle u deserve,with love landa from latvia (currently in guernsey)

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