Most people will think of a barbie-doll appearance when they think of trans women (tits, ass, small waist, and human-grade hair), but the girls know that we are so much more.
Eden Luna follows in the footsteps of her shapeshifting transcestors and pushes gender norms beyond mostly Western patriarchal constructs. To her, femininity knows no bounds, and womanhood isn't negated by having facial hair or being non-binary. We talked to the East Los Angeles native about how her Latina heritage impacts her gender, self-defense kits for the dolls, and which tucking underwear rocked her world. Read below to find out more.
Kai: Can you tell me a little about who you are, how you identify, what you do, and where you're from?
Eden Luna: My name is Eden Luna. I use they and she pronouns or ella in Spanish. I am a trans non-binary Latina person. I would say trans feminine and non-binary are the best umbrella terms. More specifically gender fluid, or recently I've been using the word shapeshifter, which I found affirming.
And I am a first-generation Mexican American person born in east Los Angeles. I've been in LA for the majority of my life.
Kai: I love the different nuances of identifying that you brought up in terms of the Spanish pronouns, as well as shapeshifter. When did those start to come to mind?
Eden Luna: That probably started around last summer. I aligned with it after I got my facial feminization surgery. I was able to explore more of the fluidity of my gender expression and access different passing points.
After my surgery, the way I was treated in makeup and without facial hair was very different. And in some ways it made me feel that I finally reached a level of pretty or passing. That experience took some adjusting for me to catch up mentally.
I also found the work of Coyote Park, and I found some level of resonance in this fluidity of being able to access different gender presentations.
She told me, “You can be non-binary and trans. You can be both.”
Kai: I love how Coyote plays with gender a lot in terms of their appearance and how they photograph themselves and their friends. It's cool to see that even more nuanced definition of gender.
Were there other people, or are there other people, that you look to as inspirations in terms of transitioning or gender or identity?
Eden Luna: I grew up in southeast LA and was always my mom’s best friend. I would go with her to get her nails and her hair done. We were both learning English as a second language. I was learning more in school so in some ways translated for her sometimes.
We found safety and refuge in the Southeast LA beauty parlors or hair salons because the people there were from the community. People who spoke Spanish, and understood the experience of being an immigrant or migrant in the U.S.
At this particular salon in Huntington Park, after my mom would have her appointment these trans girls would walk into the salon to get their hair done, or go next door to get their nails done. I remember being in awe and inspired. It’s something that has always stuck with me. I must have been like six or seven.
After I graduated from college, I left my work at the Long Beach LGBT center and joined the center in LA. I was able to meet Dean Gonzalez, one of the pivotal trans people in my life that allowed me to be able to make the most progress. There was this way that she expressed herself that felt so free. But not just that, she saw in me what I was trying to express and access, but didn’t give myself permission to. She told me, “You can be non-binary and trans. You can be both.”
Up until that point I always thought of these identities as separate. I’m so grateful for her to give me the permission and words to access these places. I look to her and some of my other coworkers like Marianna Marroquin and Drian Juarez
Kai: Those are all amazing women here in LA who’ve done so much for our community. There was some interesting things that you were going off on in terms of the intersectionality of non-binary and trans. How has that shaped your ideas of gender?
Eden Luna: Part of that journey for me was understanding the options for me to transition medically. I always imagined that non-binary people don't transition medically. We don't do hormones. We don't do surgeries.
It felt like I would have to lie to access care and say that I’m a woman. Now I don’t feel like it’s a lie, it’s an extension of reality. Back in 2019 I went to a specialist and got my letter, but didn’t do anything with it. I was hesitant because I never saw anyone do their surgery like me.
Then the pandemic hit, and I was looking at my face and was hyper-aware. When I got surgery, I was afraid. I was nervous. I was anxious. I was afraid and unsure if the doctors at any point would deny me service because I wasn't on hormones or because I didn't go through laser or electrolysis. But the landscape has changed a lot in the last five, or seven years. I'm so grateful that I was able to take that step and that I had people in my corner motivating me, and encouraging me every step of the way.
Kai: Even the concept of medically transitioning versus other types of transitioning needs more unpacking. And does your cultural background impact that, too?
Eden Luna: Through a couple of interviews I did at the center, I educated people about pronouns, non-binary identities, and why it’s important to recognize Trans Day of Remembrance. I think it was with Univision.
Then, I went to a Food 4 Less supermarket in southeast LA, and the butcher recognized me. He said, “Hey I saw you on T.V. You spoke so great, thank you for doing what you do.”
Until that point, I thought these aspects of my identity were separate. I have my LGBTQ friends and my Latina friends and family, and there’s no overlap. I realized at that moment that there is space for both. It’s just a matter of creating that space.
Kai: I speak Japanese and using those language or cultural skills to reach those communities is super important.
So changing directions a little bit, what are some pieces of advice that you would share with other girls who are starting out transitioning or even girls who are transitioning now?
Don't settle for less. Know your worth. Validate yourself.
Eden Luna: So much of what I see as tips for trans girls and trans femmes is how you can look prettier. But let's also talk about the reality: This world's incredibly violent for feminine people and trans feminine people, especially. Don’t just invest in beauty products or self-care, but let's also talk about protecting ourselves.
Never go out alone, if you're able to and having a self-defense plan is important. Send some trusted friends your location. Bring a self-defense kit or take a self-defense class or two. You never know. It's a wild world out there.
For those who want to have facial hair and rock the beard, allow yourself permission. If you want to keep your facial hair, but want to shave it every now, I would invest in a good electric razor. An electric razor will get close to your skin, but it won't irritate you too much.
For tucking, I like the Tuckituppp. That rocked my world. Invest in a good tuck where you’ll feel comfortable.
Oh, one more thing: just have fun with it.
Kai: It could be so all-consuming to transition and reorient yourself. I just started transitioning medically, and I'm in this period where I’m sitting in this in-between. But it’s also a special moment. I won't have this moment again. I'm trying to enjoy this now.
Eden Luna: Oh my God. Yes. Take photos, take videos. I'm so grateful I took photos before and after surgery. In high school, when I was my most feminine, but also most dysphoric. I was so angsty and going through so many emotions that I deleted a lot of the photos from high school.
For anyone going through their journey, whether it's hormones, surgery, or whatever celebrate that in-between phase because it's a temporary phase.
Kai: A hundred percent. There was a lot of really good stuff that came up. Appreciate you sharing your story and time.
Eden Luna: Can I say one more thing? Know that you are a treasurer. You are a rarity—something to be cherished in this world. You are a blueprint, and people will do whatever they can to access you. Know that you have the power and agency to control who you give access to.
Don't settle for less. Know your worth. Validate yourself.