Duke runs a channel where he explores topics related to equality and minority rights. He dedicates his time and energy to educating people and shedding light on the challenges faced by transgender individuals, inspiring change and making a impact through his channel. His courage is truly inspiring as he stands his ground without fear.

THE RICE SOCIETY What or who inspired you to start you channel?

DUKE DOUNG I wanted to give hope and courage to other trans people and help them on their way. Out of that came something even bigger. I became more and more an activist, and now I fight for diversity, equality & inclusion. I am not only present on social media but also at events as a speaker or holding workshops with companies regarding queer topics.

TRS What challenges have you faced as a queer person posting about transgender, and how have you overcome them?

DD The more people you reach, the more hate you get. I have started to limit my comments. Not because I want to censor, but because I want to take care of my mental health. I try not to read through hate comments, counter them back with humor and love, and I am trying to not take these comments to heart. I think people who can't deal with queer issues often have bigger problems with themselves that they compensate for.

TRS Are there any specific misconceptions or stereotypes about transgender people that you aim to address through your content?

DD Of course there are! There are a lot of stereotypes and misunderstanding of transgender people. For example, that being trans is a choice. But that is not true. Nobody decides to be trans overnight. Why would anyone choose to go through the challenging journey of self-discovery as a transgender person voluntarily? To overcome these misconceptions about transgender people, we need to educate and tell our stories. And that's what I'm doing.

TRS What are your hopes for the future of trans representation and awareness?

DD I hope trans people will be seen as normal and won’t get any more hate. Trans people are in danger in many countries. Not only in those you think of but also in the US or in Germany. Right-wing media and politicians are telling lies about trans people. They are trying to find an enemy and create fear so people are easier to control and manipulate. I hope we will have better times in the future and the society will be more respectful and willing to learn and reflect on their own privileges.

TRS If you feel comfortable sharing, could you tell us a bit about your own personal journey of changing gender? What were some of the significant moments or experiences that shaped your path?

DD My transition was a long and hard way. Transitions mostly start with your inner transition. You recognize that something is different, and you don’t feel comfortable. This takes a lot of time and energy. The first reaction will be to defend yourself. Trying everything to fit the gender that assigned to you at birth because “you just want to be normal”. At some point, you recognize that this isn’t the solution. After many thoughts and fights with yourself, you consider your physical and social transition. That’s where you start your hormone therapy and ask everybody to call your new name and use different pronouns. Every trans person has their own transition and it’s always different. I chose to have top surgery and the removal of my uterus. Now I can confidently say: The possibility to transition saved my life.

TRS What were some of the obstacles or challenges you faced along the way? 

DD Of course the long bureaucratic and chaotic processes. It’s been 8 years when I started my therapy. Therapy is necessary in Germany for your legal transition. I had to collect all the information by myself. There were just a few portals to look up but it’s different in every state. Also, the processes are extremely long, so I needed to be patient. I think this was the hardest thing, because I wanted to be me as fast as I could.

TRS In terms of fashion and clothing choices, do you have a particular preference towards certain styles (or brands)?

DD I would say I have an elegant and simple style. I really like to wear darker color like black or navy combined with white shoes or a shirt in brighter blue. Oversized t-shirts are the most common clothing items in my closet. I also really love oversized hoodies in the winter.

TRS What role do you believe unisex clothing plays in promoting inclusivity and affirming gender diversity?

DD I think it plays a big role for more inclusion! In the past, I never questioned why there were clothes for women and men. Now, however, I think that clothes should not have a gender. People should wear what they like and feel comfortable in. If a man wants to wear a dress, let him. If a woman likes the jeans in the men's department better because they have deeper pockets, then so be it. Beyond that, there are still people who don't find themselves in these gender binaries. I don't think we can get around that. If we really want to be inclusive, then clothes and shoes should not have a gender.

TRS If you would offer advise to brands regarding their support for the queer community, what would it be? What steps or actions do you think brands can take to effectively support and uplift the queer community in a meaningful way?

DD I think the most important thing is to educate your employees first. Here, companies can work with queer people and book them for workshops, for example. There are many who offer this service. If you want to do more, you should think about a strategy and talk to queer people. Involve these people. Listen to them. Learn from them.
And most importantly, stay authentic. If you're just starting out, you should communicate it that way. No one wins if companies label themselves as queer-friendly but are not actually so.

Safe spaces must be actively created and maintained. It's work, and it doesn't just happen on its own. If companies really think about it and take appropriate actions, they can become an important support for queer people. Some companies are already doing it right. I hope more companies will follow, because queer people need the support.

It's important to work together and not past each other or even against each other. Together we can make more of a difference.

Duke Duong runs a channel where he explores topics related to equality and minority rights. He dedicates his time and energy to educate people and shed light on the challenges faced by transgender individuals, inspiring change and making a substantial impact through his channel.

In this interview, he told us about the background of his channel, shared his personal story, and provided insights into involvement of brands in the queer community and their support for queer causes.

Ira, posted in Fabruary, 2024

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