How Are You, Really?: TikTok Creator and Trans Activist Kissy Duerré On Staying Authentic

How Are You, Really? is an interview series highlighting individuals—CEOs, activists, creators and essential workers—from the BIPOC community. They reflect on the past year (because 2020 was…a year) in regards to COVID-19, racial injustice, mental health and everything in between.

how are you really kissy duerre
Design Art by Sofia Kraushaar

The pandemic left most of us stuck inside, looking for something, anything to entertain ourselves. Enter TikTok, which had us scrolling for hours (and we mean hours) on end. But while many look to the platform for entertainment, Kissy Duerré decided to use it as an outlet to talk about trans issues, racism and mental health. Since joining March of 2020, she has garnered over 600,000+ followers by educating, spreading positivity and expressing vulnerability. We spoke to Duerré about the past year when it came to her mental health, joining TikTok and what it means to be a Black trans woman in America.

So Kissy, how are you really?

My first question is, how are you?

I’m pretty good.

How are you, Really?As individuals (specifically BIPOC) we tend to say, we’re Fineeven when we’re not.

Well, I’ve been feeling alright—not super good, not super bad. Last year was a very difficult year for almost everybody with the pandemic, but I’ve been trying my best to keep my mental health in check. On a scale from 0-10, I’m at a 7, so that’s pretty good.

Do you find it difficult talking about how you feel to others? a way when I was growing up. But at the same time, I’m very thankful for having the most loving and kind father who allowed me and encouraged me to be vulnerable and speak about difficult times in my life. Now, I’m at a good place.

how are you really kissy duerre quote
Design Art by Sofia Kraushaar

Why Do You Think It’s Tough For Bipoc To Talk About Their Mental Health?

I think it’s very hard to talk about mental health issues for BIPOC because it has to do with how we are raised. It’s also the stigma too with things like ‘[Your] parents went through this, so you’ll be fine too to go through these similar kinds of situations. You don’t have to talk about things. You just have to be tough.’

How has your identity affected how you feel about yourself?

As a transgender woman, it was hard for me growing up. As a kid, I had to embody masculinity even though I really did not fit within that spectrum. It was always ‘Men don’t cry. Men don’t express their emotions.’ Yeah, it’s hard. It’s a constant circle and stigma around it too. It’s also that belief that BIPOC, especially if you’re Black, [have to be] tough, strong and all of that. You cannot be vulnerable—regardless of gender.

What are ways you focus on your mental health?

I think having different activities helps me navigate my own mental health. I take my dog on walks, and another thing I’ve actually been doing for a while is painting. I love painting. It’s very relaxing.

What has made you smile lately?

One thing that actually made me smile recently was getting surprise gifts from my boyfriend. Also there’s a lot of beauty outside when I go for walks. I see a ton of wildlife because I’m staying at my dad’s cottage for the time being, so it’s a little bit secluded and not a super busy location.

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...