Angel Qinan is Sacramento Fashion Week’s first transgender model

She waited patiently for the right time

She waited patiently for the right time

By Dulce Dizon

“Transitioning is such a personal decision.”

While Angel Qinan, Sacramento’s first transgender model, is sounding off on Bruce Jenner’s presumable dilemma, she may as well be talking about her once-upon-a-time private struggles.

Angel Qinan was born Angel Castillo and attended La Salle Green Hills, a private Catholic school for boys in Manila.

“In grade school I wondered why my mother dressed me only in plain shirts, shorts and trousers. I preferred the girls’ clothes–pretty blouses, skirts, and dresses!” she remembered. “Feeling like a girl, I wanted to wear girl clothes and was frustrated that I couldn’t”!

Such feelings were taboo in a strictly Catholic society like the Philippines, so she kept them to herself for years. At age 17 she first expressed her desire to become a woman. Angel’s mother urged her to keep those thoughts to herself because she wanted to shield her son from gossip, ridicule, and sometimes physical assault. Angel patiently postponed her transition.

After earning a computer science degree from La Salle, Angel came to New York and got a nursing degree too. She worked full-time as a registered nurse. With a certain measure of financial independence, she decided it was time. She moved to Los Angeles, and in the summer of 2013, Angel Qinan was reborn.

“Transition is such an amazing experience, yet it can also be very painful,” she said in our interview. “It takes a lot of courage, support and resources to have a healthy transition.”

Unfortunately, said Angel flashing a wry smile, society does not treat transgender people with respect. They view the process as a spectacle. When she made her decision, she knew it was the right time. Sportsman and reality show celebrity Jenner is currently at a stage where he decided the time has come to transition to womanhood.

“I think each transgender person should assess their situation if it’s the right time to transition,” she said. “If it’s not yet time, invest in finding out what other resources and support are out there and be realistic on when to set a goal for a healthy and safe transition.”

'Bruce Jenner should do what’s best for Bruce.'

‘Bruce Jenner should do what’s best for Bruce.’

“I think Bruce Jenner should do what’s best for Bruce,” she declared.

When hers was completed, Angel was signed up at Thailand-based Apple Model Management Agency said to be the world’s first to represent transgender models.

“Asian transgender models are overlooked in the fashion industry,” said Noam Lev, Apple agency founder and director. “Filling the gap is long overdue in an industry that constantly seeks emerging trends.”

Angel is the first Filipina at Apple’s elite lineup of 15 transgender Asian models, all of them hoping to land their big break on television, magazines or the runways of New York, Paris or Milan.

Angel did not have to wait long. On February 21, she will debut at the Sacramento Fashion Week as the finale number. Angel will wear designs from Maisha Bahati’s collection which represents strong and confident women.

“I was drawn to Angel’s exotic look, strong and graceful walk, positive spirit and high energy,” Maisha said when she spotted Angel at the casting call. “I prefer diversity on my runway and feel attracted to models who’ll represent my brand well.”

The advent of transgender people in the fashion industry (Geena Rocero) and television (Laverne Cox), along with their active efforts to educate the world, will slowly but surely help increase acceptance of transgender people.

“I’m fortunate to have family and friends who support me,” Angel said. “I am true to myself and love who I am.”

Her advice to closet transgender people is to educate themselves, discover resources to help their transitions, and more importantly, learn who they really are to set the foundation for the life they want to live. “Surround yourself with people who love you and support you. Love yourself and things will fall into place in due time.”

Angel said the Lord has blessed her immensely. She is hoping to inspire people through those blessings, to be the voice for anyone waiting to be heard.

Dulce Dizon is a Silicon Valley professional, a wine-and-food enthusiast, and is currently the PR director of Global Filipino Network.

Angel wears a creation by Filipino designer Veejay Floresca

Angel wears a creation by Filipino designer Veejay Floresca

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One Comment

  1. Wow, I love your blog!

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