Cross-Dressing Influencer Mark Bryan Loves High Heels, But Don't Call Him Trans

Sunday November 13, 2022
Originally published on November 6, 2022

Mark Bryan
Mark Bryan  (Source:Instagram)

Mark Bryan may stand tall in stilettos, but don't expect him to stand tall with the LGBTQ+ community. The Texas grandfather, who moved to Germany, has been something of a social media sensation since he began posting himself wearing women's clothes. He has been embraced by members of the LGBTQ+ community for his cross-dressing side, but doesn't want that to be confused with support for the trans community, which, he recently told German Queer Eye host Avi Jakobs, he doesn't consider himself part of. He even refers to the community with the transphobic acronym, LGB.

Paper Magazine reports that, "In a new clip from the German documentary-style series 'Beyond Fashion,' the 62-year-old Texan grandfather is interviewed by 'Queer Eye: Germany' cast member and beauty guru Avi Jakobs, who is visibly shocked when Bryan says, 'I try to separate myself from the LGB community because of the gay community that wore skirts and high heels before I did. I feel like actually they made it worse for me, being straight, because now I'm assumed to be gay.' "

On the Trans In-Formation FB Page, Bryan describes himself as "a 62 year old robotics engineer from Berlin who 5 years ago started wearing dresses, skirts, and heels."

He says: "I just want people to concentrate on how well dressed I am, instead of debating about my sexuality."

He does, though, feel tainted by association with the identity politics, which he feels he has made his life more difficult. Nonetheless, he sees himself as an unintended ally, saying what he is doing is "helping your communities as well."

Not that Bryan hasn't benefited from advances made in trans visibility in the past few years, with lucrative marketing deals that otherwise wouldn't likely have come his way.

He continued: "I think that I'm fine with you. I show myself as a masculine male. If I was gay, and when the same time I'd probably be attacked, or have problems."

Bryan, though, thinks those problems could be self-inflicted by the trans community. "I think they've made it made difficult for themselves just being more flamboyant. I think they're too outrageous and too flamboyant."

Harper's Bazaar wrote of Bryan's rise to fame. "In early 2017, Bryan — who, to clarify, identifies himself on his Instagram bio as a 'he/him, straight, cis male' — began switching out his regular men's shoes with women's heels to wear with his office suits. In January 2020, he made an Instagram account (@markbryan911) to document his outfits of the day. Eight months later, a post from a social media account in Kenya that showed Bryan in several of his skirt looks went viral. Within a month, his Instagram followers had ballooned from 300 to 100,000. At the time of writing, he had amassed 605,000 followers and been interviewed by countless international news outlets, as well as being styled up and photographed for around a dozen fashion magazines."

"I still haven't quite got a full grasp on the reality of all this. I'm still kind of half in disbelief that this has all happened to me," he says. "I'm not the first guy on the internet to wear a skirt and high heels, but I think I'm a little bit unique in that I basically preach that I'm straight," he adds. "[Also,] a lot of people associate a skirt and heels being very feminine. I think what I do is make a skirt and heels feel very masculine," he told the magazine.

He told Harper's Bazaar that the big money has yet to roll in, though the "days of having to scour eBay for five-euro shoes are long gone, however. Bryan is now inundated with product from luxury brands keen to garner the attention of his female fans, who comprise 81 per cent of his audience. He currently has about 100 pairs of shoes. Kkira Shoes even named a shoe after him: the Mark Bryan green and yellow stiletto, which retails for approximately $700.

"If I have the opportunity, why not try to make some money doing it?" says Bryan. "But I'm also having a lot of fun."

And he hopes to see a day when identity politics and fashion are not joined. "When we get to the point where we don't attach a gender reference to an article of clothing, then that's where clothes become genderless.

"Men [once] wore high heels, too," he adds. "Fashion sometimes goes full circle. Sometimes it takes hundreds of years."