Geena Rocero’s transcendent book ‘Horse Barbie’ inspires authenticity and empowerment

Geena Rocero reads from her book ‘Horse Barbie’ at her recent book launch in New York. Rocero also had a conversation with chef and author Angela Dimayuga where she discussed the inspirations behind the book.

Geena Rocero, the multi-talented and award-winning producer, director, model, public speaker, and trans rights advocate has added the title of book author to her impressive list of accomplishments. 

In this extraordinary exploration of self-discovery, authenticity, and ancestral spirit, Rocero unleashed her literary masterpiece called “Horse Barbie,” and she fearlessly ignites a revolution of acceptance and empowerment, inspiring not only the trans community but also society at large to challenge the status quo and embrace the beauty of diversity.

“Horse Barbie” represents a culmination of Rocero’s personal experiences and artistic vision. In discussing her new book, she revealed, “This project is a deeply intimate journey of self-discovery and acceptance. It embodies the struggle, the resilience, and the beauty of being true to oneself.”

In an interview with the Asian Journal, Rocero opened up about the significance of the book’s title and how it became a symbol of empowerment.

Reflecting on her experiences in transmedia pageants during her teenage years, Rocero shares the hurtful comments she received about her appearance.

“I was 15 years old and still in high school when I started joining trans beauty pageants. I reached the top so quick, I became the most famous and most prominent and I won every single trans pageant that we have in the Philippines,” she recalled. “So you could imagine the other trans pageant contestants and their clans and fans saying that I look like a horse because of my protruding profile, my long neck, and my dark skin and my weight.”

The negative remarks deeply affected her, with people whispering and gossiping about her backstage. However, a turning point occurred when her trans mom Tiger Lily noticed Rocero’s elegance on stage and off, particularly when she was wearing her iconic red evening gown and exclaimed that Rocero resembled a “Horse Barbie.”

From that point forward, the label became a source of strength, a moniker she embraced as part of her identity, transforming from an insult into a spirit and a symbol of resilience.

As Rocero embarked on her journey to New York City, she carried the spirit of “Horse Barbie” with her, turning it into a powerful force that empowered her to embrace her uniqueness.

The memoir “Horse Barbie” is not just a title; it represents Rocero’s journey of reclaiming her identity and finding empowerment in the face of adversity. It is a testament to her resilience and serves as an inspiration for others facing similar challenges.

Over the course of two years, Rocero dedicated herself to writing every day, especially during the challenging times of the pandemic, the rise of anti-Asian hate, and the global reckoning on racial issues. Through her book, she was able to delve into deeper desires and explore the world from a unique perspective.

As a now-published author, she expressed her desire to continue directing and further expand her creative endeavors. She envisions writing more while collaborating with inspiring individuals on her list, such as Clair Denis, Pedro Almodovar, and Ryan Murphy.

She believes readers will be able to find something in her story that would resonate with them.

“This is a story of a Filipino American, a young trans woman her experiences may not resonate directly but it’s a human story, a unique journey of finding your truth, sticking to your truth,” she shared. “You know, challenging these notions of assimilation, while at the same time not losing yourself.”

Rocero’s book has already sparked conversations and garnered widespread attention.

Geena Rocero
AJPress Photos by Momar G. Visaya

“Packed with grit, ferocity, and grace, Geena Rocero’s story proves that embracing who you are—in all your complexity, and in a world that often seems to think you’re simply not allowed—is a truly revolutionary act,” said actor Gabrielle Union-Wade.

Filipino-American Jia Tolentino, the author of Trick Mirror, described the book as “Vivid, hilarious, exhilarating… thrillingly perceptive and honest” while Ronan Farrow, journalist and author of the Pulitzer Prize–winning Catch and Kill said, the book is “A propulsive read, animated by the author’s honesty, wit, and indomitable spirit of self-acceptance.”

The book stands as a testament to Rocero’s artistic brilliance and her unwavering commitment to authenticity and empowerment. Through the pages of her book, she invites readers on a transformative journey, encouraging them to embrace their true selves and challenge societal norms.

Horse Barbie” delves into the intersectionality of identity, exploring themes of race, gender, and culture. Drawing from her own experiences as a Filipina trans woman, Rocero skillfully weaves together narratives that shed light on the complexities of navigating multiple facets of identity. By centering her own story and those of other marginalized communities, Rocero aims to create a more inclusive dialogue that challenges the traditional understanding of gender and beauty.

One of the key messages conveyed throughout “Horse Barbie” is the importance of self-acceptance and self-love. Rocero opens up about her journey towards embracing her identity and the struggles she faced along the way.

“I had to learn to love myself unconditionally and dismantle the internalized transphobia that society had ingrained in me,” she shared. By sharing her vulnerabilities and triumphs, Rocero hopes to inspire readers to embark on their journeys of self-discovery and embrace their unique identities.

Rocero’s book also delves into the notion of ancestral spirit of the babaylan and how cultural heritage can inform one’s understanding of self. As a Filipina, she draws upon her rich cultural background to explore the interconnectedness between her transgender identity and her heritage.

“My cultural roots have played a significant role in shaping my identity and giving me the strength to embrace who I am,” she explained, Through “Horse Barbie,” she aims to ignite conversations about the diversity of transgender experiences and how culture can provide a source of empowerment.

The release of “Horse Barbie” marks a significant milestone in Rocero’s journey as an artist and activist. By sharing her personal story and the stories of others, she continues to break down barriers and challenge societal norms. Through her unwavering commitment to authenticity and representation, Rocero is leaving an indelible mark on the art world and beyond.

Rocero has embarked on a nationwide tour to engage with readers and spark meaningful conversations. Through book signings, panel discussions, and public appearances, she aims to foster a sense of community and provide a platform for dialogue and reflection.

“I want to create spaces where individuals can share their stories and feel seen and heard,” she emphasized. By connecting with audiences directly, Rocero hopes to create a ripple effect of acceptance and empowerment that extends far beyond the pages of her book.

In the end, “Horse Barbie” is more than just a book; it is a transformative journey that challenges societal norms, celebrates diversity, and empowers individuals to embrace their authentic selves. Through her artistry, advocacy, and unwavering commitment to the transgender community, Rocero continues to push boundaries and create spaces for meaningful conversations. As “Horse Barbie” finds its way into the hands of readers, it has the potential to ignite a movement of acceptance, empathy, and social change. n

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected].

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