Traversing the world as a trans person is like doing everything twofold. There’s a sense of being acutely perceived, and within that perception there’s an immense joy and an amorphous weight. The heaviness isn’t always bad, but it’s there—in the form of people earnestly wanting, or refusing, to engage with transness, and in either case expecting your availability. 

Tyler Ford had been writing for Rookie Mag when they were thrust into the spotlight as the expert of all things non-binary—a role they didn’t ask for, but that they ultimately found a lot of purpose in. It was around the time that magazines and TV shows started discussing transness, and by then Ford already had a portfolio of writing on “basically what is non-binary, what it means.” So they became the go-to talent for speaking opportunities, writing, and acting gigs. Basically, “my job just became being the trans person in the media.”

And at first that meant consciously educating cis people on transness; but over time it became about helping other trans people understand themselves, as well as just existing publicly as a Black trans person, taking on the role of being visible. “I think that is just a really important part of what we do for each other. Existing as yourself and presenting as you want to in the world, it just creates more possibility for people like you and future generations,” Ford says. And that’s a job in and of itself. Offering up so much of themself, Ford went on to become a founding editor of them., writing about things like queer sex and trans rights, and they made their TV debut on Ryan Murphy’s The Glee Project 2. They continue to write and consult, and use their platform as an advocate, with the ultimate hope of helping other trans people “articulate who they are and their desires and their identities.”

We talked to Ford about trans visibility, deciding on what time means to them as a queer person, and more, below.