Getting to Know… Dezjorn Gauthier
Dezjorn Gauthier has been busy. Since graduating from Marquette University in 2013 with a degree in Criminology Law Studies and Sociology, he began his physical transition in 2014, and became an award winning model, including being one of seventeen featured trans models in the well-known Barney’s New York campaign. He was featured in the documentary series “America in Transition;” founded his own philanthropic business Dezjorn International LLC and the first African American trans-cultural magazine, Black T Magazine; and was recently crowned Mr. Wisconsin. He is the director of social media for the Gendercool Project, and was formerly Vice President of Point of Pride. He also teaches a high school level law course on the justice system.
1. Can you talk a little about how you started Dezjorn International LLC, and the work that Dezjorn International does?
I started Dezjorn International as an apparel line back in 2014 under the name “I am here, I am he” until changing it to be more inclusive and capture the goal of spreading education, inspiration and empowerment worldwide. Its purpose was to build my brand as a professional model and public speaker and bring visibility to the transgender community with a special focus on transmen of color.
Now Dezjorn International is comprised of subsidiaries including Black T Magazine (the world’s first black trans-culture magazine) and a talent management services. In April 2018 I opened its non-profit wing — The Dezjorn International Foundation Inc. — that has a mission to educate, empower, and inspire people of marginalized communities to advance equality and equal opportunity through providing scholarships, volunteers, programs, recreation, distribution, and collaborating with existing organizations/programs. The non-profit was started because my wife and I decided it was time for us to do even more for the community and expand what the LLC was already doing.
2. At 27 you’ve already built quite an accomplished and impressive career. What continues to inspire you?
Very simply, the community, our youth and generations to come. I am inspired by life, and my wife gives me the drive.
3. What do you consider as some of your greatest accomplishments, and biggest challenges…and how did you handle them?
I have had a lot of accomplishments in life but not one is greater than another. Once I accomplish something I set out for the next achievement. I have modeled for brands and been published in magazines recognized around the world. I inspire and empower folx all over the globe. I received an outstanding education from Washington University School of Law and I married a very loving, intelligent and supportive woman. All of these and many more have been done as a transman of color under the age of 30, which is quite impressive but does come with many challenges. I have to work three times as hard in the modeling industry. Being a public figure and advocate is not easy. There are many hours and days spent away from family, and my privacy is limited. I deal with any challenge that comes my way by striving for excellence. I turn challenges into accomplishments. Take a dream, turn it into a goal, make a plan, do it! I also know the importance of self-care and family time. I never lose sight of what I value most. Sometimes I do adult coloring books with classical music playing in the background, sometimes it’s playing a board game with my wife, other times it’s just prayer but we always have to remember to recharge.
4. In the past few years trans visibility has grown incredibly. What, in your opinion, does our culture/society still miss about trans folks and particularly about black and trans men of color?
Yes, we have become more visible which opens the doors for education and advancement of research but society still misses that gender identity and sexuality are different. Society needs to stop categorizing us; we are all unique and the most basic thing that is missed is that we want to live life just like everyone else on this planet. There is still work to be done, especially for our NB/GNC. Transmen of color are often silenced and our black transwomen are murdered. Our youth are being left homeless and our health ignored.
5. What’s next for you, and for Dezjorn International?
I have a few upcoming projects and partnerships that will be announced late 2018/early 2019. I will continue to model and speak at institutions, but I am looking to take that to the next level, which is international. I have a heavy focus on doing more in Milwaukee as far as Dezjorn International; we are constantly looking to grow and expand. We are in the works of getting a new office space so we can open our computer lab to the community and increase opportunities for our volunteers and student internship program. The Dezjorn International Foundation hopes to have its summer athletic program ready for 2019. Dezjorn Int’l LLC will have new apparel releasing this winter, and there are rumors that a hair care product will be released in 2019. The best way to learn what’s new with Dezjorn International is follow us on social media.