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Rare Like A Limited Edition Prada Bag

A look at how rarity is a superpower for the transgender community.

Rare Like A Limited Edition Prada Bag
Trunk Archive

When I am lucky enough to visit the Hamptons in the summer, I always make a point to swing by the Prada store. If not to shop, always to take a quick little peek. And, if you are familiar with Prada, you’ll know that certain stores will have exclusive products not available anywhere else. Particularly the bags.

Last summer, when I entered the Hamptons store, I was immediately drawn to a collection of custom-painted bags that were sitting front and center. It was as if a beam of light shone down through the store, hitting those bags, and I felt as though I was gliding directly to them without taking a single step. It was magnetic. When I came to my senses, I was holding one in my hands and most likely drooling or hyperventilating. The salesperson had explained to me that there were only twelve of these custom bags designed in the entire world and only four had made it to the Hamptons. It suddenly felt as if I’d struck gold. The rarity of those bags, the way that only a select group of people will ever have the pleasure of touching it, seeing it, or even more aspirationally, being able to call it theirs, made me want to cry. I was in retail heaven.

Now, I won’t even begin to tell you the price of the bags, but needless to say, they were out of my price range, and rightfully so. They were works of art, after all.

To this day, those bags still haunt me. Any shopaholic like myself would understand. It made me begin to realize and question the haunting beauty around rarity. It was as if because those bags were limited and hard to find, it had made me appreciate them even more. I began to think about myself and how transgender people are rare in themselves. There was a poetic connection that began to resonate with me, although it wasn’t until later that it sparked a personal revelation.

It suddenly felt as if I’d struck gold. I was in retail heaven.

Months later, I was scrolling through Instagram and I came across a population statistic in the US Census Bureau's Household Survey that struck me. As of August 2023, it was reported that 1.03% of Americans identify as transgender. That’s 2.6 million people across the country. At first, I was surprised. The transgender community has a small, everyone-knows-everyone type of feeling, and at a glance two million people seemed like a lot to me. But when I broke it down, I began to see how truly rare we are–like those limited edition Prada bags.

I think it’s common for trans people to question, “Who will ever love us?” or “Will I ever find the one?” and maybe that’s something we all feel–cis and trans alike. The fear of being “unlovable” can cause us to pursue relationships from a place of desperation and scarcity, which leads to decisions in love that are often disadvantageous. I began to wonder that instead of scarcity, what if, in matters of love or life, transgender people chose to realize that only 1% of the population is like us? That people can’t just go out on the street, to a bar, or even a dating app and easily find someone like us. That we are quite literally diamonds in the rough. What is most beautiful about this realization is that it can also be applied in a broader sense to all people. That we can all choose to see the things about us that are unique as being a part of what makes us rare.

The rabbit hole of information began to feel addicting–like, hell yeah, I’m rare! It made me speculate further about how unique transgender women truly are. Let's do some math. The split between cis men and cis women is about 50/50 in the United States. If we apply this to trans men vs trans women (which is obviously flawed because of the broad nature of the term “transgender”) that would mean there are about 1.3 million trans women in the entire country. Although, in reality, we know the number of transgender women is actually less, maybe significantly, because these numbers fail to take into account the non-binary and gender-non-conforming people that fall under the transgender umbrella. So, let's take our hypothesis a step further and speculate that there are only 1 million transgender women in the United States. One million, in a sea of 332 million people in the whole country. When framed this way, you begin to realize that transness can also be the very thing that makes us remarkable, incomparable, and one-of-a-kind.

The transgender community has a small, everyone-knows-everyone type of feeling, and at a glance two million people seemed like a lot to me.

Being a fashion girl, of course, my thoughts kept returning to the Prada bag of all bags. The one that still haunts me today as I write this piece. While someday I’ll probably be able to own a Prada bag, the chances of it being that bag are incredibly slim, and it may likely be impossible to find anything comparable. As I left the store empty-handed that day, I knew that it was unlikely that I would ever see them again because once something so rare slips through your fingers, it’s often gone forever.

I know this is a seemingly silly analogy, and while I don't want to be specifically compared to a limited edition Prada bag, that moment in the store and my subsequent Census Bureau rabbit hole, made me realize a few things. I had come to discover that rarity is one of the things that makes us so beautiful. In being rare, it means that we can not be replicated. People may be in awe of your uniqueness, some people may not understand it, and others would give anything just to be in your presence.

Prada will never discount a bag as rare as the one I fell in love with; much less ever give one away for free. So why would we discount our love or settle for someone who doesn’t value us? What if we, particularly trans women, saw, believed, and led with our rarity? What if, instead of desperation or fear, we believed in our uniqueness, and we saw our differences as our magic? We should not settle for love that does not meet our standards. We will stand tall in our rarity and there will be no bargaining in who we are. We must realize that most people cannot measure up because that is what it means to be rare. At the same time, trusting that there is someone out there looking tirelessly for their limited edition Prada bag. And once they find it, they will have no intention of letting it go.

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