As a young femme in 1990s Manila, Geena Rocero heard, " Bakla, bakla!," a taunt aimed at her feminine sway, whenever she left the tiny universe of her eskinita. Eventually, she found her place in trans pageants, the Philippines' informal national sport. When her competitors mocked her as a "horse Barbie" due to her statuesque physique, tumbling hair, long neck, and dark skin, she leaned into the epithet. By seventeen, she was the Philippines' highest-earning trans pageant queen.
A year later, Geena moved to the United States where she could change her name and gender marker on her documents. But legal recognition didn't mean safety. In order to survive, Geena went stealth and hid her trans identity, gaining one type of freedom at the expense of another. For a while, it worked. She became an in-demand model. But as her star rose, her sense of self eroded. She craved acceptance as her authentic self yet had to remain vigilant in order to protect her dream career. The high-stakes double life finally forced Geena to ask herself if she wanted to reclaim the power of Horse Barbie once and for all: radiant, head held high, and unabashedly herself.
A radiant testimony from an icon who sits at the center of transgender history and activism, Horse Barbie is a celebratory and universal story of survival, love, and pure joy.
Born and raised in the Philippines, Geena Rocero is an award-winning producer, director, model, public speaker, trans rights advocate, and television host, and was named one of Gold House's 2020 #A100 most impactful Asians and Pacific Islanders. Her directorial debut Caretakers (PBS), a docuseries about Filipinos in care work, received four Emmy nominations.
Rocero will be in conversation with Aditi Hardikar. Hardikar serves as the Treasury Department’s Deputy Chief of Staff. She most recently served as the Leadership and Training Lead for the Biden-Harris Transition and prior to that spent three years at the Obama Foundation first as chief of staff and then as the acting Vice President for Operations. During the second term of the Obama-Biden Administration, Aditi was Associate Director in the White House Office of Public Engagement, serving as the primary liaison to the LGBTQ and AAPI communities. Hardikar served in leadership roles in the Clinton-Kaine presidential campaign, the Obama-Biden presidential reelection campaign, and at the Democratic National Committee.