I’m trans masculine but I refuse to stop wearing make-up

Ev Callahan identifies as non-binary and trans masculine but refuses to stop wearing make-up.

Callahan is a non-binary make-up artist challenging the standards of masculinity that heteronormative society often holds trans masculine people to. And they’re the subject of a new short film by queer filmmaker Sid Strickland.

“If I want cis men to feel comfortable and confident in themselves, to be able to wear make-up, or wear long hair, or traditionally feminine presentations, then why shouldn’t I be able to?” they explained.

“I shouldn’t feel held to a higher standard of masculinity because I’m trans.

“I think everyone should be able to wear make-up. So why not me?

“I really love character make-up, theatrical make-up, and drag make-up—being able to transform in this very simple way.”

Callahan was always “very masculine as a child” and struggled with the pressure to be “hyper feminine,” and later realised they are non-binary.

“My mum bleached my moustache in my sleep once and I was very upset as I was really trying to grow that moustache,” they explained.

“Stuff like that, or you have to shave your legs. The amount of times I’ve been physically wrestled into a dress.

“So the message that I was getting steadily throughout these years was you have to be a girl, there’s no other option, and there’s one way to be a girl.

“And make-up initially was part of that—I was using make-up to try and perform appropriate femininity.

“Then I kind of went the other way once I felt comfortable enough in myself to tell people I was trans and come out as non-binary, where I was so masculine because I was so worried about being misgendered.

“At the end of the day, I don’t see anything inherently feminine about make-up.

“I do like to play with that. But at the end of the day, I don’t really believe there’s any relationship between make-up and femininity, or make-up and womanhood.”

Filmmaker Sid Strickland produced this short film as part of a series called Gendercraft, exploring trans and queer identities.

Sid told PinkNews: “Beginning to make these films has really resolved the internal struggle of how I identify. I thought I couldn’t wear make-up if I didn’t see myself as femme. I thought I couldn’t be non-binary because I don’t experience body dysphoria.

“It’s freeing to realise I don’t need to try and change how people see me. Coming to understand my transness through queer art, performance and being part of a community has made me love myself in a way that wasn’t possible before.

“Queer and trans people are everywhere and always have been but cis/het society tends to spin the narrative that we’re only just appearing.

Filmmaker Sid Strickland

“I often feel some people need a new pair of glasses to see everyone as they want to be seen – rather than in a narrow, binary view. And I guess I want to try and help to facilitate that.

“I don’t feel represented or often watch stories on TV that I personally identify with.

“At the same time, it feels like queer culture gets more and more appropriated by mainstream society. The first time I ever got shouted at in a toilet, and told to leave, was at this year’s London pride. At a queer event. In Dalston. I felt really violated.

“We can’t rainbow-wash everything and say it’s a safe space. So, preserving and nurturing our queer & trans communities is even more important than ever.

“I’ve always called the project Gendercraft because I want to try and demonstrate how many different ways there are to be queer, non-binary, trans or gender non-conforming. That it’s not a question of aesthetics, but everyone’s personal choice—and that should be respected.”

Ev, is part of a series titled Gendercraft, produced by Sid Strickland and Mountainway Pictures, and edited by Alice Trueman.