From homeless shelter to social media fame: How one trans, disabled model is becoming the face of a generation

Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Philip; artwork by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle
Photo: Courtesy of Aaron Philip; artwork by Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle

Meet Aaron Philip and prepare to rethink your definition of beauty. She’s a gender fluid model with cerebral palsy, and she refuses to let her disability define her. Aaron’s family, originally from Antigua, moved to New York City when she was a toddler to seek better medical care for her. As a young trans person living through financial struggle in a homeless shelter before settling in the Bronx, Aaron became a disability activist and turned to the internet to spread her message. She started by sharing her open and honest voice on her Tumblr blog, Aaronverse, then moved on to write her memoir, This Kid Can Fly: It’s About Ability (NOT Disability), at age 14. Now, she wants the world to see her face — her photos went viral on Twitter, and she’s calling for agency representation to show the world that trans, black, and differently abled people are beautiful.

Name: Aaron Philip

Age: 17

Favorite app: Twitter

What she does: I am a model. I got into it by doing a lot of research on how to best push myself into this field using my own self-awareness and the typical, professional guidelines such as getting headshots and measurements done.

Three words she’d use to define Gen Z: Resilient. Kind. Ahead.

What she wishes older people understood about her: I wish older people would understand that all I want to do is exist as a teenage girl.

Her greatest accomplishment (so far): Manifesting every single one of my dreams so far as a trans, physically disabled model and creative.

What she’ll be doing 10 years from now: In 10 years I’ll be 27 … I honestly don’t know.

What representation means to her: Representation means seeing yourself reflected in a space for all that you are.

What inspires her: My disabled, black, and trans feminine communities and identities inspire me collectively every single moment.

How she thinks Gen Z will change the world: Gen Z is going to open up a future of consciousness, empathy, love, discourse, tolerance, visibility, opportunity, and respect.