Founders Ryan Cassata, Niko Storment, and Hunter Trinca* create IG channel for trans community
By: Chris Gilmore/TRT Reporter—
The infatuation with age, race, weight and overall presentation doesn’t begin and end in the cisgender world. Mainstream ideals of bodily perfection, beauty defined by magazine models, plastic surgery and ageless serums have become an all too familiar way for the media to portray and promote transgender bodies as well—until it was met with resistance.
Surging to 1K followers within a day of its launch and boasting nearly 20K subscribers in less than a year since its inception, Instagram Channel All Trans Bodies swings back against toxic cis-passing expectations and strictly binary gender expression in an effort to be inclusive to all.
In this exclusive interview, The Rainbow Times caught up with two of All Trans Bodies’ founders to learn about the catalyst and ongoing mindset behind the channel and the subsequent effects it has had on the trans community. Singing sensation Ryan Cassata, 24, and artist Niko Storment, 26, spoke candidly about this and much more as they unveiled their direct experiences of living outside the box while daring to envision a world filled with truly diverse trans beauty representation.
TRT: It’s Dec. 23, 2017 and you create All Trans Bodies via IG, what were you thinking or experiencing particularly that lead to this page’s creation? Who is your target?
Ryan Cassata: I noticed that only binary cis-passing trans people were getting recognition. I wanted to showcase that the community is filled with all different types of people. I wanted to show how diverse our community is. I wanted a platform that makes room for every trans person. All Trans Bodies is for every trans person, especially the ones that often get left out or are made to feel invisible.
Niko Storment: Representation in the media for minorities is extremely powerful and crucial at this time in world politics.
Who we see in the media plays a huge role in consumer self-ideation and self-esteem, and when you don’t see yourself it can create a feeling that those glamorized roles are only for “those” people, not you. For trans people, this is already a challenge. We started ATB because we noticed that a form of this was taking place within the trans community as well. We wanted to showcase what our community actually looks like. The endless diversity is our strength, not something that should be hidden to seem more palatable.
Q: 1K in one day, that’s a heck of a milestone, why do you think this happened so fast?
Ryan: I think people really resonated with the idea and they felt welcomed right away. We wanted to make people feel welcome and to give them a space that they always belong in.
Niko: This only speaks to the fact there is a definite market and need for this type of content. Like we mentioned before, we noticed there was some hiding of the diversity in our community to appear more palatable. However, we think as a society we have reached our saturation point for airbrushing in beauty standards and uplifting only a certain type of person. People are fed up with this type of behavior. They want authenticity. They want to see themselves, and they want to see each other. We need community.
Q: Is there anyone else in charge of this page? How did you select this person?
Both Niko & Ryan: The page was started by Ryan Cassata and Niko Storment, two friends who were having a conversation about the lack of diversity in underwear models. We since have had Hunter Trinca join the team to help out with the large volume of submissions.
Q: There are many trans pages, why was there a need for this one?
Ryan: There are so many trans pages but most of them had a minimum amount of likes to stay posted clause. In other words, the page will post the photo but say, “You need 1,000 likes to stay posted or we will delete your post.” This is very exclusionary. People without large followings would get deleted and their story would be erased. Our page doesn’t delete stories/posts. We see each post as an equal contribution to our community.
Q: What happens to so-called trans models, trans muscular women, people with “societally perfect bodies,” or people who are already media influencers who pretty much get all of the coverage, are they also welcome to join the page?
Niko: … Everyone, regardless of their race, expression, sexuality, mental ability, physical ability, etc. should have a chance to have a platform to express themselves. Additionally, showing every type of person is a more accurate representation of the community and can help people not feel so alone. It is a powerful thing.
Of course trans models, etc. are welcome within that framework, we simply want to show they are not the only ones, as some blogs suggest. It’s not a popularity contest. It’s a community.
Q: Is there a plan to start a website for something like this?
Ryan: Yes! We believe that All Trans Bodies can become something bigger and hopefully help a lot of people to realize they are not alone.
Q: Do you think that there is a tendency to fit the cis-binary norm by trans men and women?
Ryan: Yes, People often feel like they are not “trans enough” to be a part of the trans community. There’s no such thing as being “trans enough.” We are all enough. We are all an important part of this beautiful community.
Q: How do you keep up with the page? How long does it take you to manage it?
Niko: We all are passionate about this, and we all have different strengths. We communicate and delegate tasks. We don’t want to force anything; part of the beauty of ATB has been the organic nature of it.
Q: Do you need or are you currently looking for sponsors to support you with it or sponsor it?
Niko: Yes, website fees and seed money for other projects we are planning can get expensive. We would definitely accept sponsorships.
We just want to thank everyone who has submitted or even viewed or shared our page. We are very grateful for this chance to showcase the community in an authentic way!
To request information or to contact All Trans Bodies, e-mail them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
*Editor’s Note: Hunter Trinca was not able to participate during this interview but is hands-on in the daily work of All Trans Bodies.