Meet the inspirational Irish model who's smashing the gender binary.

Meet Ivan Fahy, an androgynous, gender-expressive model from Ireland.

Ivan uses male pronouns, but he doesn't confine himself to simply being "male."

"My gender and its expression is more than what the male gender binary permits," he said.


And because of that, Ivan is breaking barriers right and left when it comes to modeling. "My photos show that boys do wear makeup, boys do wear high heels," Ivan said in an interview with the creative agency Thinkhouse. "I'm a boy, I am wearing them, and we do exist."

"Having this platform means a lot to me because I know it will send out positive messages about self-acceptance and the acceptance of others." All images from Thinkhouse/YouTube.

That language is integral to Ivan's identity. And so is the fact that, well, he knows how to werk.

As a generally expressive and artistic person, Ivan was always drawn to modeling — to creating impactful moments with just his body as a canvas. But once he actually began modeling professionally after secondary school, he says something felt … off.

Ivan realized that it wasn't modeling itself that was bothering him — it was the boring, uninspiring act of modeling as a male. "I deserve to be embraced as a model that is feminine," he told Upworthy. "My gender allows me to be more imaginative and bold because I don't care about labels or boxes and this excites many people."

"I would love to work with the world's biggest designers and be the face of a few brands, not just because that would be amazing for obvious reasons, but because it would show that people are becoming more brave and inclusive."

Even as he made a name for himself with his fierceness on camera, Ivan didn't wear heels in public until his college graduation.

It sounds like a small victory for someone who had already begun to embrace his gender-expressive self. But he says wearing heels to his graduation from NUI Galway was a major step in helping him come into his own.

"Being a model gave me the confidence and tenacity to do it," he said. "I didn't like the idea that I am this fabulous and confident expressive model online that people look up to and admire, but in real life I hide away and conform."

Of course, the art of modeling can't take all the credit. Some of that belongs to his mother, too. He says that on the day before graduation, she told him that people might think or say mean things, but she raised him to be strong and brave. So in the end, he put on those heels and marched proudly across the stage.

"I am lucky to have family and friends that accept me. The stares and opinions of others can upset me sometimes, but everyone close to me is amazing."

Ivan certainly isn't the first or even biggest name in genderqueer modeling. But that doesn't mean he's not worth celebrating.

U.S. readers might be familiar with names like Ruby Rose, Rain Dove, and Ryley Pogensky. And in Ivan's native Ireland, RTÉ news anchor Jonathan-Rachel Cynch came out as gender fluid in 2015.

But Ivan's visibility as an LGBTQ role model is really important, especially in a country so strongly associated with its own Catholic history. Although Ireland is coming around to genderfluidity, Ivan says there's a lot of work still to be done. "There are still high levels of homophobic and transphobic bullying in schools, self-harm, suicide, etc., in Ireland and these need to be addressed immediately," he said.

That's why, in addition to his stunning and inspirational modeling work, Ivan also offers workshops and talks about gender, sexuality, and LGBTQ inclusiveness, including a recent one at TEDx Galway.

"If a guy says 'Ivan's cool, I love his high heels,' [other people ask him] 'Are you gay?' But why do you care? Instead of it just being, 'I'm appreciating the picture. It's art.'"

While his modeling skills have largely been embraced, Ivan has still encountered some resistance to his gender expression.

"Many brands and designers are afraid to be pioneering," he said. "Some of these barriers are too great to simply overcome because we are talking about people's beliefs and their willingness to take risks."

Not all of Ivan's professional struggles have to do with his gender, though. He also encounters the same false promises and untrustworthy people that anyone in the fashion world has to deal with. It's still not ideal, but if he's going to have to put up with any frustrations, it's better to be faced with industry-wide problems than continue to be held back because of who he is.

"If someone works with me, all of a sudden they are doing it for 'attention' or 'publicity' and it's not true. They might just be working for me because they like me as a model."

Ivan's work is an inspiring example of just how far our society has come in celebrating beauty in every gender.

Gender has never been as strict or simple as we try to make it out to be. There's still a ways to go, of course — as evidenced by the barriers that Ivan himself has had to face.

But as his stunning vogue has shown us, sometimes a little bit of self-confidence is all it takes to break through and inspire others to follow in your footsteps. Whether they walk in heels should be entirely up to them.

True

Upworthy and P&G Good Everyday are teaming up to find the people who lead with love everyday.

Know someone in your neighborhood who's known for their optimistic attitude, commitment to bettering their community and always leading with love? Tell us about them for the chance to win a $2,000 grant to keep doing good in their community.

Nomination ends November 22, 2020

via Brittany Kinley / Facebook

Brittany Kinley, a mother from Mansfield, Texas, had a hilarious mom fail her and she's chalking it up to being just another crazy thing that happened in 2020.

When Kinley filled out the order form for her son Mason's kindergarten class pictures, there was an option to have his name engraved into the photos. But Kinley wasn't interested in having her son's name on the photos so she wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" on the box.

Well, it appears as though she should have left the box blank because the computer or incredibly literal human that designed the photographs wrote "I DON'T WANT THIS" where mason's name should be.

Keep Reading Show less
True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

Marcos Alberti's "3 Glasses" project began with a joke and a few drinks with his friends.

The photo project originally depicted Alberti's friends drinking, first immediately after work and then after one, two, and three glasses of wine.

But after Imgur user minabear circulated the story, "3 Glasses" became more than just a joke. In fact, it went viral, garnering more than 1 million views and nearly 1,800 comments in its first week. So Alberti started taking more pictures and not just of his friends.

Keep Reading Show less
via UDOT / Facebook

In December 2018, The Utah Department of Transportation opened the largest wildlife overpass in the state, spanning 320 by 50 feet across all six lanes of Interstate 80.

Its construction was intended to make traveling through the I-80 corridor in Summit County safer for motorists and the local wildlife.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that there were over 100 animal incidents on the interstate since 2016, giving the stretch of highway the unfortunate nickname of "Slaughter Row."

Keep Reading Show less