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Jewelry from KIL NYC collection

It's been a tough couple of years, so why not see in 2022 with some beautiful wearable talismans manifesting strength, protection, and perseverance? These bestselling items by LGBTQ jewelry designer Konstantinos Leoussis, founder of KIL N.Y.C., make the perfect unisex fashion statement for now and into the new year.

Based in Brooklyn N.Y., Leoussis, 32, has been passionate about jewelry from an early age. "The first piece of jewelry that was truly my favorite was a kilt pin from the 1850s that I was able to afford with my own money. It was a very sentimental piece of jewelry for years."

He believes that jewelry is not only decorative; "wearing jewelry can be so empowering and strengthening. I do believe jewelry is incredibly talismanic. I try to invoke strength, protection, and inspiration with my designs."

"My jewelry line is inspired by many things: mythology, magic, monsters. I've always loved ancient history since I was a child and I try to add similar elements to my jewelry. The first collection I released was entirely inspired by monsters from Greek mythology," he says.

This is very evident in his beautiful Teras Collection:

Argus Studs

Kelly Sword Earrings

The Kelly Sword Pendant and Earrings are two of the new signature styles Leoussis created for the KIL N.Y.C. label. Taking the traditionally masculine symbol of the sword and turning it into one of feminine power, the Kelly Sword design invites you to channel your inner warrior! Light enough to be worn every day, but bold enough to stand out as an accessory in the evening, each piece can be customized with your choice of metal, as well as optional stones set in either the hilt or the blade of the piece. In honor of the strong women who inspired this piece, 10% of each sale before tax will be donated to Equality Now, a non-profit organization dedicated to fighting for gender equality worldwide.


Kelly Sword Pendant

Leoussis says, "I wanted to create something timeless and unisex, and swords are often seen as symbols of strength and perseverance. I named them Kelly Swords after my friend Kate Kelly, who has dedicated her life to advocating for women's rights. Because of that, we donate 10% of the profits from this piece to organizations that share Kate's ideals.”

Another favorite from his Classics Collection, his Sadboy Pendant, was created to commemorate all the times we really wanted to cry but had to act like we were “too cool.” Now anyone can proudly display their sensitive side no matter what their gender with this luxe piece of jewelry. Available in one’s choice of metal and dangling briolette tears, an extra center stone can be added to the pupil of the eye for added sparkle.

“I was going through my journals from high school and came across a little drawing of an eye crying. In its jewelry form, it's a homage to my 'emo' days and a way of acknowledging that we are all entitled to have bad days,” says Leoussis.

Konstantin Leoussis

"As an LGBT individual, it is sometimes very hard to get my work out there and sometimes, I am not taken seriously. We still have a very long way to come with LGBT representation especially with POC creators, such as myself. I strive to be inclusive and create designs that break thru the gender binary, and we try to support LGBT organizations with proceeds from select pieces of jewelry," says Leoussis.

But his timeless yet trendy designs are catching on and several celebrities wear his jewelry: Alyssa Milano, Kate Walsh, Carson Kressley, and Michelle Visage of the band Seduction, and judge on RuPaul's Drag Race. "Michelle has been so supportive of our brand and it's always amazing to see her rocking the jewelry," says Leoussis.

For more on these beautiful designs follow KIL N.Y.C. on Instagram at @kil_nyc.

How to talk about transgender issues

So how do we talk about transgender issues (even if you're not transgender)? There are three main things to remember when discussing transgender issues today, so before getting into the meat and potatoes of it all, let's keep these things in mind:

  1. It is not a political discussion, it is a human rights discussion.
  2. There is a rich history rooted in transgender rights that must be considered when discussing these issues.
  3. Humanization should always be at the forefront of the conversation.

Before going into any conversation, no matter who it's with, try to keep these things in mind before you say something that may be inappropriate, misguided, or just plain wrong. Even those with the best intentions can mess up; remember that it is always ok to admit when you do not know something or when you are wrong. That being said, let's get into it.

sign with a 'friendly for all genders' image showing a person in a wheelchair, and a person with half a dress and pants on.

Transgender bathroom bills

commons.wikimedia.org

So whether you choose to become a transgender activist or if you just want to be a better ally, this easy talking point will generally keep you in line and on the safe side of conversations while still putting forth the effort to encourage and better represent transgender rights.

Easy, all-around approach: This will work for almost all transgender issues and expand on the previous three rules; firstly, trans issues are not a debate. When discussing with someone, do not indulge in hypotheticals and always remember that transgender people are the exact same as anyone else, with the exact same feelings. Keeping this in mind, let's use the bathroom bill as an example. When discussing this issue, one should humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation. How does one employ this, though? Here is an example of how the conversation may go.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restroom, they will rape my daughters.

So this statement is clearly based on reactionary conversation perpetuated by anti-transgender ideals. This means that the person probably has a misconception of the history and oppression of transgender people. They also show concern for their family, which is a step towards humanization, despite the misconception. Here would be an appropriate response that helps to humanize, de-politicize, and normalize the conversation.

Person 2: I don't want men in the women's restroom, either, which is why we need to make sure people who identify as women are using the women's restroom. There has never been a documented case where a transgender person has raped either a man or woman in a public restroom. And by forcing people to use a restroom that does not match their gender identity, it is promoting violence, as there is a strong history of physical violence against transgender people.

By only saying about three sentences, you are able to do the previous steps while discussing the issue in a civil manner without opening it up to debate. The key to this is to keep it short and sweet, stating both the truth and an ally's stance to support the transgender community. It's critical to make sure that what you say is backed with confidence, though, which is why this second approach is more encouraged as it gives the person speaking more confidence in their opinion.

gif of a man in a suit talking about number 1. Number 1 GIF by PragerU Giphy

The second approach: backed by facts and history, is the exact same as before, but this approach leaves the other person with more questions about their stance and gives them something to consider. Before going into this approach, however, it is important to keep in mind that you are not debating the existence of trans people, nor are you trying to change someone's mind. That is not the goal; the goal is simply to get your opinion across in a way that honors both the trans community and their ideas. Let's take the same example as before but add the new sentiments.

Person 1: I don't want men in the women's restrooms, they will rape my daughters.

Person 2: There has never been a documented case of a transgender person raping anyone in a public restroom, and the only published cases of such were proven to be false. Further, when people say things like this, they are perpetuating violence against transgender people, which has historically (and still does) oppressed and insight further physical violence against them. And honestly, the most common reason there is this stance is because the person typically does not know a trans person and may not even know a person who does know a trans person. But the truth is, they probably do. The probability is more likely that the transgender people around them are just not comfortable enough in the environment to come out and speak up about their gender identity. And yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but it is quite sad that some people's opinion does not invite civil discussion but instead incites violence.

This approach is more confrontational, which requires more confidence when using it in a conversation, but it still holds true to all of the previous rules and sentiments. It adds truth based on history, which is an important aspect of trans rights as it reminds people of where we were/ where we are currently with human rights. These ideas can be transferred to most all trans issues and will honor the transgender movement and your allyship. The last thing to keep in mind is the person or reason you are standing up for/with trans rights. The passion -the compassion will shine through in conversation if you keep your reasoning close to heart. Whether it is because of a transgender friend, family member, or just because of your moral values, if you put your emotions into your reasoning, it will create more compelling statements, especially if the statement is well versed with the facts.

Tips to Remember When Discussing Transgender Issues

  1. Transgender issues are not political, they are human rights issues
  2. There is a rich history behind transgender issues
  3. Humanize transgender people through our words and ideas and don't forget to include:
    • 3(b). The facts
    • 3(c).The confidence
    • 3(d). The inspiration behind the support for transgender rights

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