From the second the camera connects us, it's immediately palpable that the Dupont twins are glowing. Jake and Josie's shared euphoria feels tangible through Zoom. The identical twins, who've carved their place in the fashion and beauty industries as gender-nonconforming models, are beaming because today they're publicly — and explicitly — coming out as transgender women.
"We feel great. We feel like... us, you know," Jake says, smiling. "It's like a rebirth," Josie adds. "We feel brand new."
Despite the Dupont twins' considerable public platforms — at the time of writing, the duo has a combined Instagram following of nearly 42,000 across one shared account and a personal profile each — Jake and Josie have not directly disclosed their transition to any followers or the media, until now.
"We socially transitioned over a year ago," Jake explains, volunteering the fact that she isn't changing her name. "We just never publicly came out or talked about it." This is one of the details picked up on by their followers over the past year, and one that led some to begin questioning whether it was only Josie who was transitioning.
"Obviously, it was a very public transition with us," Josie says. "We just haven't come out as trans because we felt like we didn't really have to." On Instagram the twins say their transition has been implicit, and even before that — when the two identified as nonbinary — they were always still feminine presenting.
"It's been a constant, I wouldn't say battle, but kind of a mystery of what was really going on," Josie says of that time. "Nobody knew our pronouns and we didn't really know. We were just constantly uncomfortable."
The two describe their gender realization as divine timing. Stuck together at home in Connecticut during the height of COVID lockdowns, Jake and Josie spent plenty of time self-reflecting. During a release meditation, both twins instinctively knew what they needed to do next. "We both just came to each other with our truth," Josie says.
This experience of finding their authentic selves, brought on by the pandemic's isolation, was echoed by Elliot Page and Tommy Dorfman, both of whom reference that time of solitude as a crucial period allowing them to reflect on — and address — their own feelings of gender dysphoria. "It was like being stuck in a year-long therapy session with each other," Jake says, while Josie adds, "It was a ton of healing, I think, for everyone."
Before this moment, the twins say they had never openly talked to one another about being trans, with Jake describing the initial thought of being honest as terrifying. "Especially with our specific situation — being twins — we've done everything together. We're so close," she says. "So having that inside of you and not knowing how the other twin feels, like are they going to be supportive or are they feeling the same way? What if she doesn't get it?"
Josie interjects, almost as if she's comforting her sister: "I went up to her and I was like, 'Girl... I think it's time.'" Both twins start laughing. "It was such an alignment with us," Jake continues. "And we're just so blessed that we both feel the same way. We are synchronized; we go to the same appointments, we take our hormone shots on the same day. We can really rely on each other and it's made us really close."
The Dupont twins hope their joint transition — including being open about its nuances — will further trans visibility, especially for those who are having a more difficult time changing physically. Despite both taking the same hormones, Jake says she's had a far less pleasant reaction to testosterone blockers. "I was having heart palpitations, crazy brain fog, things that [Josie] wasn't having," she explains. "So even though we're twins, everyone has their own experience with transitioning."
Just be patient, both twins encourage, because "it's a really great thing to experience," Josie adds. "It's really exciting. I'm looking forward to it, it's really fun to see your body change and to feel it change." Beyond physical appearance though, the Dupont twins also highlight how their mental health has improved significantly along this journey.
Before lockdown, the Dupont twins were well on their way to pursuing their dreams, appearing in acclaimed German photographer Ellen von Unwerth's VON magazine, walking New York Fashion Week and working with one of their idols, Lady Gaga, when they were chosen to be featured in Haus Laboratories' beauty campaign. By all accounts, the twins were achieving their goals — but not everything was as it seemed, as is so often the case in these glamorized fields.
"We weren't really happy. Something was off," Josie admits, but now everything's different. "I literally have completely blossomed." Jake, sitting next to her sister, nods fervently. "We started to love ourselves a lot more," Josie continues. "And now we both are in love and have partners. That's something we didn't have before." The twins are finally comfortable enough with themselves that they are able to live for the first time separate from one another.
"It's a whole new chapter of our life," Jake says. "We both feel 100% authentic and we're both realizing who we are together. It's just so special. We are really close already, but this just strengthened our bond. It's ironic, even moving in with our partners, we accidentally moved a couple of blocks away from each other. Even though we don't live with each other anymore, we're never away from each other."
Fortunately, getting to this stage has always come with a tremendous amount of support from their family, and coming out to them privately as trans was no different. "We have a really great chosen family in New York, too," Jake adds.
These relationships have grounded the Dupont twins and helped — at least to some degree — alleviate additional stress that comes with being an out trans person in public or online. "There's no denying that there are people in the comments section that troll you and tell you that you're not real," Jake says of social media. "But those comments get deleted very fast... or the girls take care of it for us."
Yet, the twins are well aware that their privilege is one hardly afforded to most trans individuals, especially trans people of color. According to the Human Rights Campaign, this year at least 37 transgender or gender nonconforming lives — most of them trans Black people — have been lost through violence in the US. And this, NBC News reports, puts 2021 on course to be the deadliest year for trans people on record. The HRC also emphasizes that many more deaths go unreported.
"I feel like every time I'm on Instagram, I see another death or a hate crime," Jake says. "It's so scary and difficult to see." Josie adds, "But it makes us feel really empowered to fight back and to use our privilege and our platform to stand up and speak out for our community."
The twins recently attended a trans liberation rally where they watched and listened to trans women and men of color speak. "It was really empowering," Josie recalls. "You think you know what goes on, like you usually read the stories, and then when you hear it firsthand from somebody, then you see the emotion that they have, the fact they're still so resilient to come and speak up and to tell their stories."
Because the online trans community has been so loyal and protective to the Dupont twins, they hope to be an inspiration for their trans followers, as well. "We get messages from people that either haven't come out or they have come out and they're struggling, or they're telling us their story," Jake says. "It's so beautiful to see other people relate to us and that people say we help them." Many of these people are young kids living with their parents. "People say that we help them sometimes to define themselves. It's really inspirational to hear their stories and see how far they're going."
Even in their own personal lives, where they're uplifted by friends and family, the all-encompassing changes can still be difficult. "It's a transition for everyone. It's not just us and that's something you have to realize," Josie explains, giving the example of people using the correct pronouns. "You're in a constant state of educating people. They ask so many questions and even then, you can be like, 'You can't ask me that.' You correct people in saying, you know, it's inappropriate to talk to me like that or you can't call me that."
The HRC reports that there are currently more than 150 anti-transgender bills under consideration in state legislatures across the US, which paints the alarming reality that so many Americans still buy into the country's increasing transphobic rhetoric and willfully remain uneducated.
Ultimately, this feeds the aggressions trans people face daily. "You can't ask about my genitals," Jake says. "Or what my surgeries are or why I still have facial hair," Josie adds. "You're always correcting people. You're probably going to correct people for the rest of your life. People just don't know, but we're not zoo animals, we're people." Jake has a simple piece of advice — one you'd expect to be logical in the year 2021: "Google it, girl."
Within their own industry, which isn't as inclusive as it often likes to purport, the Dupont twins are waiting for more trans acceptance, visibility and opportunity. "Everyone's trying to play the inclusive game now. Even just [a few months ago] when Vogue had their first trans girl on the cover," Jake says, referring to US Vogue's September issue, featuring trans model Ariel Nicholson, along with seven others, two of whom were mega-models Kaia Gerber and Bella Hadid. The eight cover stars were described as the ones that currently "make the moment."
She continues, "Why is it taking this long to do something like that? I'm not shit talking, but it's just so crazy. We've been around for so long, it should not have taken this long to have a trans girl on the cover." Brazilian model Valentina Sampaio became the first trans model on the cover of any Vogue magazine when she appeared on the March 2017 issue of Vogue Paris with a cover line dedicated to transgender beauty.
Josie echos Jake's reaction, saying, "It's about time, but it's still really great that it's happening. We're excited to continue our career in that major way — like we're still here and it pushes us forward in every way, and it's beneficial for everyone."
As for what they have coming up next, the duo says their lips are sealed. "For modeling, it's going to be a big year for us," Jake says. (Soon after this interview, the twins walked the runway for The Blonds at New York Fashion Week.) "We'll also be traveling and doing a couple of jobs abroad, and that's probably all we can say about it," Josie continues, with both twins laughing secretively. "But it looks like it's going to be a good year for the Dupont twins," Jake says.
What do Jake and Josie Dupont hope their transition will contribute to reflect a true, lived trans experience in 2021? "I just hope it's very visible to people, and that it brings a lot of happiness for people to see two sisters transitioning together and supporting each other," Jake says, with Josie adding, "Fulfilling a beautiful life and giving a narrative to trans people all over the world." We'd say the Dupont twins are doing just that.
Photography: Payton Carson