By Chloe Sweet @chloesweet

A TRANSGENDER ‘power couple’ are conquering the fashion industry

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Videographer / director: Adam Gray, Will Francombe
Producer: Chloe Sweet, Ruby Coote
Editor: Marcus Cooper

 

Brooklyn-based Jari Jones and Corey Kempster were both born male but now identify as women.

The couple met during college and quickly became best friends but it wasn’t until they started dating two years ago that they fully identified as female and began to socially transition. 

Since coming out, Jari and Corey have made their mark on the fashion industry – both as trans individuals as well as a couple. They have featured on the cover of New York Times Magazine, modelled in campaigns for fashion brands like Chromat and walked down the runway at New York Fashion Week.

Jari told Barcroft TV: “For years, fashion has been one single look; tall, skinny, white. Now we have people like us, people who are there to break those standards.

“I want to continue to be the representation that we didn’t have.”

Corey added: “It’s empowering to be working in fashion. I get a chance to celebrate myself, my community, my partner and my body.”

The couple, both aged 28, grew up battling with their gender identities and the pressures placed upon them as children to conform to gender norms.

Corey told Barcroft TV: “When I was a little kid I knew very well that I wanted to be a girl.

“I think late college, my dysphoria was at its peak. I didn’t know what it was yet but I had never felt worse about myself. There were days when I couldn’t get out of bed, I wasn’t going to class, I was really depressed and having suicidal ideas.”

After finding each other and immersing themselves in New York’s thriving LGBTQ community, they also found the confidence to express their true identities and come out as transgender to their friends and families. 

“I think it was one of the greatest parts of discovering myself was having somebody like Corey,” Jari said.

Talking about his childhood years, Corey added: “I would wish that there would be another boy who was like me. Basically I was wishing for a trans girlfriend like I found in Jari years later.”

“I have been told my whole life that I am too feminine and now I am celebrating that. I am owning that, instead of taking labels that are put on me, I am labelling myself that I am proud to be a woman, I am proud to be feminine I am proud to be trans.”

However, Corey admits that her relationship to her body can still be “complicated”. After three years on Hormonal Replacement Therapy (HRT), she recently took the life-changing decision to undergo gender reassignment surgery. 

She said: “When I would have sex, when I would imagine myself, I always imagined my genitalia differently. 

“This surgery is really important. It’s something that will allow me to feel more comfortable in my body.

The couple travelled to Thailand for the surgery, as they claim Thai doctors have been “ahead of the game” in gender confirmation surgeries for years.

It took over three months for Corey to recover from the seven-hour procedure.

She said: “I would say the hardest part of recovering was probably coming home.”

“If I sat down in the wrong way it hurt, and everything would bring pain or discomfort.”

Jari admitted: “It got hard, it definitely got hard.

“But everything we do, we push through – we get it together.”

Post-surgery, the couple are moving onto exciting new chapters in their lives. Jari has landed acting jobs in a number of upcoming films and television series. Corey is getting back to working as a model and activist within the trans community, feeling more comfortable than ever in her body.

As for their relationship, they say there are “no limitations”.

Jari said: “I want it all – I want the marriage, want the kids, I want the big happy family.”