Geena Rocero on Her Blockbuster Memoir and Trans Liberation

“I made a very conscious decision on how I wanted to communicate this story,” Rocero tells me when we meet for lunch not long after her shoot. “I said clearly to my editors, team, and book agent, ‘I want this to serve the artist and the storyteller in me.’ [And] I feel like I’ve sprinkled the world with my world, with my way of thinking, with my magical sense of things.”

Now, months after its release, she feels achievement and relief not unlike the incredibly public moment in 2014 that shifted her life’s trajectory. It was on a TED stage in Vancouver, where she audaciously shared her trans identity publicly for the first time after years of modeling under the radar.

Area suit. Maria Tash earrings. Cartier ring. Jimmy Choo pumps.

“I felt like I was freeing myself to be fully as I am,” she told Glamour at the time.

In that moment Rocero remixed her Filipina heritage and queer pride into a force for collective transformation. And now she’s done it again.

Rocero’s early life in the Philippines was humble, but she was surrounded with tremendous love from the beginning. Her origin family, including her mother, father, and siblings, mostly accepted her gender nonconformity from a young age. Still, her childhood was marred by abuse and violence that partially influenced her mother to immigrate to San Francisco—Rocero and the rest of her nuclear family remained in the Philippines. The absence took a toll on 11-year-old Geena, but she and her mother stayed close through long-distance calls. And, in time, she found a chosen family in the Filipino trans pageant system.

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