[00:00:00] German: It should be a sign of, you know, strength because, you know, the amount of the harder things that we have to deal with to, to just coexist. It's hard, so the fact that we're here should give you an idea that we're resilient, that we're strong enough to to be here
[00:00:14] Jasper: I'm Jasper Lior and this is Gender Euphoria: the podcast where we break down what Gender Euphoria is and talk about the beautiful, wonderful, incredible parts of trans identity. Today I'm with German. German is a BIPOC LGBTQ photographer and creator who's focused on bringing a euphoric outtake to the LGBTQ plus community that isn't consumed by our trauma but by photographing a sense of confidence and joy, celebrating queer bodies by uplifting and bringing visibility to the art and fashion world. Yes, German! Thank you for being here
[00:00:49] German: I'm so excited to be here
[00:00:51] Jasper: I like to start by asking people how they identify and what their pronouns are
[00:00:55] German: Well hi my name is German Vasquez and I identify as he/him, they/them, she/ her, whatever you want to call me, I am, I am yours. I don't take offense to anything and I respect everybody's pronouns but I would definitely, you can call me whatever because I am just this blank canvas. So you can call he/him, they/them, she/ her
[00:01:18] Jasper: Here for it. Okay what does gender euphoria mean to you?
[00:01:24] German: Gender euphoria is something that just comes within, you know? Like feeling, if you feel confident, if you feel like what you are and who you want to be like, and, and showing that with confidence and, and, and, integrity, I think that you know, that's the way I would kind of sort of define that is just being yourself, authentic authentic in the most raw way possible and living your truth and, and enjoying, you know celebrating, you know everything that you do your progress. And yeah I think that for me, I don't have one solid definition. It just comes with just more of like, you know living your truth, celebrating yourself, your accomplishments and always you know, living above you know, the standard or the, or what they usually, you know, have planned for us. So yeah, I would say that would be my definition for that.
[00:02:18] Jasper: I love that. I feel like that's kind of people touch on that a lot, but you really articulated that like, being above what they have planned for us. And I'm so excited to talk to you about your art and coming from a place of joy and euphoria and I'm really trying to do that in my art also and like, oh can't wait to get into it. Is there a feeling a physical feeling that you get or that you associate with gender euphoria?
[00:02:45] German: You know I wanna say yes, confidence probably it's because like I do carry myself very confidently. Sometimes they might think that I'm just a little bit assertive if you wanna say it but I think confidence. I think to live in that euphoric state, you have to be confident and not give a fuck of what people have to say about you. And I think that confidence will be like my number one thing you know, confidence. Because once you reach that level of confidence like, no one can tell you anything, you know what I mean? It's only you against, you know, the world and I think that's really powerful, just being confident is probably like one of the, you know, one of the most - how I would define or use a, a key word to describe that, yes, confidence.
[00:03:28] Jasper: Yeah I, I am thinking of a time that I, I don't know, I put on a cute outfit, I was really feeling myself and I was just like felt myself walking down the street and becoming euphoric and like feeling like me against the world like you just said and I felt like, my whole chest was really open and I was just radiating that power like nobody can touch me. I'm a fucking boss ass bitch
[00:03:54] German: Absolutely. Absolutely
[00:03:57] Jasper: As a photographer capturing gender euphoria, how do you do that? How do, what do you see? What, how do you direct people? Talk about that a little bit
[00:04:07] German: You know, we're so accustomed to seeing, you know the trauma and the nude, you know our bodies and the nude and, and you know whatever it is. And I think that I have such a different approach to it because I'm not interested in seeing you in your vulner- most vulnerable way because I feel like it's already been there, it's, it's been said. I think traveling to Puerto Rico really, really defined that for me in a way because I was able to see such a big community of you know, just a big trans community and how confident they were and they are. And because it's hard being, you know, a trans person in Puerto Rico because there's so much of a super crazy stigma and religious backgrounds that would never allow that to flourish, you know or and live and be able to progress you know from all that hurt, all that hurt. So I think my main goal is to, it's not to capitalize off of this. My main goal is always to help them reach the next level for them or what they want to do. I'm looking for authenticity and confidence and and joy in living who they are, even if that's, if that's them, you know, dressing up in a gown or dressing down, and what is that makes 'em feel good. Which is, as the fashion is the art, what is it that, that makes you feel good? And that's how I want to capture you. So when I, when I cast, when I meet these people, I am just focused on them. I know what I want to shoot because I know lighting, I know, you know, environment. I know, you know, angles. That's, that's different. That comes aside, that's like the side dish. Me just interacting and the connection with them and, you know and wherever, whatever it is that I'm shooting and me producing that work was just eye opening and it was just breathtaking because it kind of, sort of, helped me realize a lot that I didn't know about you know myself and how sometimes I'm always still trying to like hide certain things. And living through these people has made me realize that like I can live through myself and be authentic and as they are because if they can do it in such a you know, hard environment then you know, I definitely can do it. And if I have the power, I'm always gonna help them, you know, reach their potential.
[00:06:26] Jasper: Yes. The community aspect of it is like so important and having joy in community and having joy, trans joy in trans community, is so fucking powerful. And Puerto Rico, I feel like was a place that really taught me how to have joy in community outside of these oppressive systems that are keeping us down and that's how we, I don't know, can have humanity in this situation that we're in. And it's really beautiful and so liberating. And it's really important for you to be doing the work that you're doing and for trans people to be documenting and being behind the camera because your lens is a trans lens is a queer lens is your own unique lens that's different than, you know hetero-cis-normativity or whatever
[00:07:17] German: I agree, I agree. That's what's important. Like, they don't see that enough, we don't see that enough, and then we do see it, it's the glamorized version of it, which is, you know, the unrealistic expectations, the very um, cisgender looking trans and stuff like that. So it, it, there's, there's always, there's always, you know, all there was like the, the pros and cons. But I always tried to make sure that as for myself, I am focused on visibility and making sure that, you know, what I'm doing is for everyone to feel good about, not just, not just for me, not for my portfolio, or for my website, not for the internet, you know, just I want everyone involved also to feel good about it.
[00:07:54] Jasper: Well I'm excited to come to a party that all your super cool friends you've made in your work come to. I bet everybody's pretty awesome
[00:08:04] German: Yes
[00:08:05] Jasper: What is a moment of gender euphoria that stands out in your life?
[00:08:09] German: Hmm okay. I think it's the latest project that I did that is the one that I plan on showing in Puerto Rico If everything goes to plan this summer, which is called Jardin Del Pecado which is basically sort of like a rendition of like the garden of sin. So basically it involves, you know, the LGBT community but you know, they do look very vulnerable because in the environment that they're in, but it's basically mainly focus on the idea of primal safety and visibility. So I think that that was probably one of the projects that really kind of like, kind of like moved me in a way where like the experience alone for me was better than the photo shoot, although the, you know, the photo shoot was great. But the experience for me was like very euphoric in a way because I was able to work with all kinds of sexualities and genders and seeing them go from, you know, these gowns and the outfits that I got for them to make this, you know, project in, in the jungle in Puerto Rico and not knowing the rainforest in Puerto Rico. Um then seeing them stripped down and, you know, get naked and, you know, go swimming in the water and just, you know, want me to take pictures of them as, you know, as, as they look. I think that was like the moment there where I realized that what I, what I was doing, you know, was what I was supposed to be doing. And it felt good in all kinds of ways because people talked to me about it after, like the, the models were like just telling me how, you know confident and how safe I made them feel. So I think that was all, that, that to me was like, you know, like the icing on the cake. I was like, this is all I wanted and I, you know, I, I succeeded at that because of what was said to me, you know, the conversations we had and overall like I said the experience that I felt in as part of this. So I think that was probably the moment that, you know, I kind of felt really, you know, I wanna say just more free in a way too, just seeing them how free they were.
[00:10:10] Jasper: Aligned also it sounds like. Like aligned with your true self and your calling and, yeah. I feel so similarly about my career and my goals and stuff. ANd I feel like I am also here to document queer and trans joy in this time right now. Yeah, and celebrate it and like it's, that's, I think they're very important. It's very important, cause who else is gonna fucking do it?
[00:10:35] German: Yeah and then some people are actually, you know, people are, and there's people here that are living amazing beautiful lives, confident even if they get rejected in places that they've went to, like they still are pushing through. So to me like that's confidence and that's joyous because they're still out here pushing themselves. It hasn't, it hasn't given them a chance to regret what they did or anything they, they've done. So you know the more you push, I feel like the more you um, you kind of become that confident, strong person you should be. Yeah
[00:11:03] Jasper: Why is gender euphoria important?
[00:11:07] German: I think euphoria is important because everyone has this stereotypical idea of who we are apparently, because of what has been portrayed about us in the industry and movies and the world in general, you know like, this is not nothing new. I feel like at the beginning I remember when I just said like, oh you know, give people a chance because this is so new to them, like people are just not, you know, I was just trying to be that naive person like, people know people are just not aware sometimes, and it really takes a long time for people to really, you know, get it. And I was like, I might, I was like, What? But then I, after a while, I started to think, and I started to, you know, obviously, you know, educate myself and I, and I noticed that this is, this is nothing new. This has been around, it's been a thing, it's been happening, things have been happening for years. And then once you start clicking things together and you realize that it's not. It's just the choice of not wanting to learn about gender and anything like that. So, to me yeah, to me it's just, it's important because like, people need to know that it's, it's, it's more than just what you think it is, you know? There's more to us than just, you know the tr- you know, for trans-, it's more than just the transformation, you know, it's more than just that It's it's more about, you know, themselves healing. It's more about, you know living an authentic life, living who you want, who you are as, as you feel. And I think that that's important because it'll also teach people that you know, we are just regular human beings that are just trying to coexist in a world where you guys are making us feel that we don't belong here in a way. But um, but it's like, you know, it's, it's not new. You know, we've, we've been here, it's just that now we are, we have so much more freedom, and we are, we are not, we are not taking back anything just because of what people may think about us. So now we're just, now you're seeing more because of you know, because there's a movement, there's a confidence movement where people are just confidently living their truth and they wanna be known for their truth. So I feel like I value that a lot because I think it's gonna, it's gonna be important for the future, and it's also gonna be important for the people that are still with those you know, religious structures that, that, that kind of, you know, that don't allow us to, to continue to live as free as we want to be. So I think it's, it's in a nutshell, I think it's just important because I, I think really people, people really should start thinking more about how we are just human beings trying to coexist and exist in a world that has been, you know, terrible and, and has been super, how do you say, um oppression, you know, it has, it has brought so much oppression to the, to the trans and gay community. That I feel like at this point, like it's just, just listen and see that nothing is gonna change your perspective with me existing. You know what I mean? Like, I can still exist, you can still exist, and it will be two people existing. So I think that that's really important for me.
[00:14:09] Jasper: Yeah. Also we can exist and we can be happy about it
[00:14:13] German: Yeah exactly like, you know, we can exist and be happy that we exist because, you know, that's, you know, we're, we're strong individuals and I feel like people think that you know they, they, they, they, they kind of compare or, you know, assume this type of like, weakness when it comes to like, being trans or being gay, or being not cis, you know, like there's like this sign of, of weakness and it, I feel like it's opposite. It should be a sign of, you know, strength because, you know, the amount of the harder things that we have to deal with to, to just coexist. It's hard, so the fact that we're here should give you an idea that we're resilient, that we're strong enough to to be here
[00:14:55] Jasper: Hell yeah. That was, that was very well stated
[00:14:59] German: These are great questions. I, you know, I love thinking like this
[00:15:02] Jasper: Yeah, same. I wish, I, I wish I could smoke too. Maybe um one day, we'll, we'll all be in Puerto Rico and Zoribel will smoke us up
[00:15:13] German: I mean I had I definitely have a dispensary license in Puerto Rico
[00:15:16] Jasper: What is seeing your gender these days? A book, a piece of clothing, a song a photograph, a tree, something that you feel seen by
[00:15:29] German: Fashion. My clothes. What I wear. I feel like, I try to make a statement out of that. Like I, I purposely wear stuff on purpose because I wanna see people's reaction and I love seeing people's reaction. Like I wear, like I wear yoga pants all the time because I love seeing people's reaction to seeing a man with a big butt and, and in, in tights and it's, it's a funny reaction. Interesting, when I'm in Puerto Rico, like I get, oh my God, like people talk so much shit. I can get the, you know, I can, I know what they're saying and I'm just like, in my head I'm like, Wow. But I think that that is kind of like, you know, my statement is fashion like what I wear is kind of sort of like defines me like you'll see, you know, shoes and I love shoes. So every time you see me you will see that I have a really interesting pair of shoes on. You know, I kind of wear whatever feels good to me. So whenever I see people with, with, you know with wearing lIke pieces or just anything that just is, is like above the standard. And if you saying, you know, if you wanna say, I get, it brings me joy. Like I love it. Especially seeing, you know, if, when I see like the regular, you know, the regular male wearing, you know, stuff that, that is not your typical thing, but they're so confident with it. I love that too. Just in like, just like, I love that in in the queer community you know, when people are being their authentic self and they're dressing wearing whatever the hell they wanna wear. Like that is to me, like really important. And I feel like that is like what defines me and a lot of us is because of our fashion sense too
[00:17:02] Jasper: I'm excited to see some pics of you in all your different looks.
[00:17:08] German: Yeah I know. And I don't do that enough, that's the thing too, like I'm now trying to get back into the thing. Cause, I, we're on pause, we're taking a break, we're in a inter intermission of the pandemic. And so now I want to start to just, you know, continue to just be myself and you know dress the way I used to cause I really, I really do miss that a lot
[00:17:24] Jasper: Yeah. I love that any excuse to leave the house is an excuse to get really dressed up.
[00:17:30] German: Yeah. Yeah. Like me, like when I go to my studio they go do a photo shoot like I, I wear an outfit and, and sometimes I don't., Sometimes I just wear whatever. But just because like, you know like, I'm going to my studio and like, I don't know, maybe after I'm doing the studio I go somewhere, I'll walk somewhere, but you know I don't. I just come home
[00:17:52] Jasper: Do you have any advice for a trans person, or really any person, who wants to feel more confident in their body?
[00:18:01] German: Um yes I do. I would probably say just go for it. Like, I, you know, I was, you know, I was that kid that hated my body every day, every time, you know. But it wasn't, it wasn't it wasn't it was more because of the, like I said, in my environment. I really didn't have like a healthy environment where people were positive of bodies and, you know, body forms and shapes and stuff like that. So for me, it took a while to, it took me losing a lot of weight to look how I looked like skinny, to be like, Oh no, I do not wanna be that because it was not cute. Um it took a lot, you know, it took a long, a lot of trials, a lot of explorations. But I think that stay authentic, stay true to yourself and really, really love yourself because once you really love yourself and you find that self love and confidence, like it's so much more easier to deal with the world, to deal with the bullshit that goes on in the world. And I think yeah I think that's, my biggest thing is just continuing to be yourself, really believing yourself and find that self-love and don't worry about the outside noise because it's always gonna be there. People are always gonna talk shit whether you're doing good, whether you're doing bad, whether you're queer, trans, gay, it doesn't matter. They're always gonna talk. They're always gonna judge you. They're gonna find something to judge you for. Ignore it. Focus on yourself. Continue to live your authentic self and find yourself love. And I think that once you find that self love like, the, the world is you, against the world, you know nothing, no one can tell you anything. So yeah find that. Find that self love. It's really important.
[00:19:37] Jasper: Anywhere people can find you on the internet? Anything you wanna plug?
[00:19:41] German: Absolutely you can find me on Twitter @GermanVazqPhoto. which is my name with VAZQ photo. That's my Twitter. My, my Instagram is @g.vazquezphoto. So basically same thing. So Instagram is @G.Vazquezphoto, you can find me there. That's where I have on my work. I have a website, which is, which is www.Germanvasquez.com and you can find that as well, which I have all my work in there and actually, a lot of my work, most of my work is there, all my fine art work, all my projects in Puerto Rico are there, my bio some self-portraits. So you get to know a lot about me and my website, well most, a little bit about me and my website, which is great. So definitely check, check me out.
[00:20:28] Jasper: Thanks so much for being here and chatting.
[00:20:32] German: Yes it was great. I feel like I've known you my whole life.