Tyler Ford

Activist

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Tyler Ford Dazed 100
Tyler wears bonded silk coat, poplin blouse Calvin Klein CollectionPhotography Casper Sejersen, styling Elizabeth Fraser-Bell

“What are you?” is a question often levelled at Tyler Ford – either directly, or as implicitly articulated in gyms, high schools or bathrooms. As the personable poster child for agender identity, Ford answers the question on their own terms. “My gender identity cannot be separated from my blackness, my queerness, or my asexuality, because they all inform one another, all shape the way I experience the world, and all shape the way the world experiences me. My body and my rights are always on the line, regardless of what I’m fighting for.”

Originally hailing from Florida as the only child of a single mother, Tyler (who uses the pronouns they/them) didn’t feel comfortable with binary identity. Taking charge of that realisation, they now use their profile to inspire young people to fearlessly live their true selves – through writing, public speaking, and, notably, their work with Miley Cyrus’ Happy Hippie foundation. Ford met Cyrus when Cyrus photographed them last year for Instapride, in a collaboration with the photo-sharing platform. “Miley is a rad photographer who made me feel really comfortable and sexy during the shoot,” says Ford. “I was so pleased to be her date and introduce her at the amfAR Inspiration Gala.”

The latter event saw Ford light up the red carpet in a low-cut black dress and red DMs, a benchmark appearance for a new generation looking to learn about gender fluidity. Just don’t call 2015 the transgender ‘turning point’ – as Ford notes sagely, there’s a long way to go. “I want people to be proactive, to help make spaces more inclusive, to change laws, to support us – not just by saying, ‘I support you,’ but by following that up with action.” Next up, Ford plans to tour Europe and write their first book. “I’m really excited to see what’s next myself!”

Text Kieran Yates