'Be Genuine, Make Art' An Interview With We Deserve This Author Victoria Scott

Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik
Photo: Amber DaSilva / Jalopnik

Right now is a weird time to be a trans person in the United States. We’re being attacked on all sides: Legislators are banning our IDs, corporations are discriminating against us, even our own enthusiast communities often shun us. They’d prefer it if we’d just disappear from public life, stop telling our stories and showing our faces in the light of day. Victoria Scott knows we deserve better.

In today’s release We Deserve This, Scott’s latest book, she shows transfeminine people in a way that media often doesn’t: Happy. In great outfits, hanging out with cool cars, as people with interests and hobbies beyond gender. I sat down with Scott to talk about the book, and learn what she wanted it to be — and what she still wants it to inspire in others.

When was the first shoot?

The first shoot was in December of 2021, after I got back from my van trip. I had the SW20 that’s on the cover as a loaner car while I got my van fixed. Claire was staying in Dallas with a girlfriend of hers, and I went out to go visit and we just had a night to kill before going to get dinner together.


And so I said, “We should go take pictures.” We had this cool car. She’s obviously got a good sense of fashion, she’s got the whole ’90s yellow thing going on, and we had the yellow DART train. I managed to time it right for a really good shot. And so, initially, I just made a little spread because the pictures were more compelling together than they were solo. I was like, “This is a really cool little fashion shoot.” And then, I was like, “Huh, I wonder if I could make this into a replicable thing.”

So the second shoot in the book, with Roxy, was when I tried to see if I could turn this into something that had a consistent sense of theme. That was also another car from the importer, the Mark III Supra Turbo A homologation special. Roxy did a very different vibe, the ’90s heroin chic kind of shoot, and then I was like, “Okay, this is two very different vibes that appear to have a consistent through line and theme. This can be turned into a project.”

How do you get from a couple shoots with a couple friends to a full-fledged lookbook?

From there I went to San Francisco, and did a handful of shoots that are in the next pages of the book. Nikki with a ‘60s aesthetic, the tuner girl shoot with Lexi and her Protege5 – that was her own car. And then I shot with Lauren and her Porsche – I didn’t know Lauren beforehand, she was one of the few people I met specifically because I was shooting the book – and that was when I started building actual momentum. I had five shoots, and that was when I initially set the goal of 20.

The book is loosely in the order of which I did the shoots, rather than any sort of cohesive, “I planned for this vibe to follow this vibe.” It’s largely because that’s just the way it ended up working out. There didn’t really seem to be a need to reorder it, because it actually organically worked itself into a pattern that kind of felt like it made sense – especially towards the end, where I was trying to fill in gaps in styles and stuff. But the first five shoots were all pretty easy. Consistently different vibes, consistently different cars, and different ethoses about how we did it.

With shoots like Lexi and Lauren, did you prefer shooting people with their own cars when you could?

Y’know I think I did at first. From a scheduling perspective, it’s certainly easier, but from an overall shoot perspective, it didn’t honestly end up mattering. The most important part of the project was just getting comfortable with the model – which, obviously, is easier if you’re a transfem shooting transfems. I want to represent us as I think we would like to be seen, and I think that’s part of what made this project uniquely doable for me: I have automotive industry links, so I could go get these cars, but then I still had the ability to respectfully portray us in a way that I think that everybody in the book is pretty happy with.

That was my main concern – I want the audience to like it, people who buy it to like it, but I really wanted the people who are in it to be very happy with the pictures. That felt kind of like the foremost goal and then everything else can succeed kind of from there.

I would say about half the shoots in the book are women with their own cars, and half the shoots are people with cars that I sourced. Some were because they had a specific emotional link to that kind of car, or it was a dream car of theirs, or they just gave me a vibe for their fashion and I found something to try to match it.

The most explicit example of that is the shoot with Ari Drennen, a trans journalist for Media Matters Foundation, who is not a car girl at all but hikes a lot. So I went out and got a Crosstrek, we went out to Mount Rainier in Washington together, and she wore chic hiking gear. We did kind of an outdoorsy shoot, rather than a car enthusiast-first type of shoot, which was something I actually really wanted.

The whole idea of it is that there’s a vehicle for every lifestyle, and you don’t have to be a dyed-in-the-wool, “I’ve worked on every car I’ve owned” sort of an enthusiast to see yourself reflected in this. I refuse to believe that working on a car is the only valid way to be an enthusiast.

It’s not even all cars – you have shoots with bikes, too.

Yeah, I did shoot with people with their bikes. There’s the Ducati and the Triumph in there. Viana is very into riding, she has the Ducati and when I was in Los Angeles she offered it. I was like, “Yeah, Ducati is a sex symbol, that’d be amazing.” She went and leaned into that for her whole shoot.

And then Sarah, who’s the final shoot in the book, she has an old Mercedes that she just uses as daily transportation. But the Triumph is where her heart lies, her dream bike. She’s had it for ages, she works on it a lot, that was much more where her soul was anyway. And she’s got a very strong, for lack of a better term, leather dyke kind of vibe with the bike. That was one that we didn’t have, and I was like, “This would be amazing.”

Plus, the bikes were fun because it gives you way more flexibility in how you pose the car and the person, because it’s not a car. It’s a bike, they’re smaller, you can get them into much tighter locations. You can get different framing, and that worked out really well in both of those.

With Viana’s, we went to some art institute in WeHo on a weekend. There was nobody there and we just took some pictures really quick. I don’t think we could have gotten a car in there, but it was very easy to do with a bike, and it led to that really cool color blocking – kind of a Matrix-esque loading screen theme. Then for Sarah’s, we went to West Seattle, and that was a great spot to get the full skyline. It emphasized both nature and the city aspects of Seattle.

Not just thinking about the models and the vehicles, but the locations too?

I tried to reflect the best parts of the locations I shot. In the cities where I got to do multiple shoots, I tried to reflect all of the various looks and environments in that area, especially if they’re known for having good driver’s roads, like Los Angeles. I shot with Cora and their Focus RS in the mountains outside Malibu, with Sammie and the Alfa at the beach, there’s the shoot with Viana in the Art Institute. There’s like a bunch of different kinds of vibes, all for Los Angeles, which I think fits because there are different cars for different lifestyles and different environments.

That’s part of why LA’s car culture is so cool – you get this compressed amount of culture into such a small geographic region, and people pick something to optimize for and I think that’s part of what makes it so interesting there. And more fun to shoot.

Someday we’ll have to get you out to the East Coast, for a wing over here.

I know, I know, that was the biggest regret. I wanted to do more cities, but I originally said I’d go to 20 shoots – I probably could have kept going to 30 or 40 if I really wanted to. But at a certain point, I realized I need to just get it out. See how it did, see how people liked it. And then hopefully, you know, I can revisit the theme later.

In the acknowledgments at the end, you tease a sequel.

I do. There are no official plans. Ryan from Carrara [Media, publishers of We Deserve This] has been super helpful, he managed the launch and he’s helped a ton with a lot of aspects of this, but he’s a small publishing house. I mostly organized this around other travel I already had planned; Cities I was in, people I knew, I leveraged professional connections in the auto industry to kind of make this happen. So it’s just, the amount of logistics for it is pretty daunting. Also, I have a full time job at Motor1 now, and I can’t necessarily commit the bulk of time to working on it unless there’s a really big appetite for it.

You recently had a sort of pre-launch party out in Seattle, my friends who attended said it was a great time.

It was, we had a really good turnout. It was very interesting because it was held in an automotive shop, where people were actively working on their cars. So we had some people come over, asking what we were doing, and they were very receptive to the theme of the book – even though they weren’t necessarily the intended audience. They were just general car enthusiasts. And then we had a room full of trans people who all liked cars. It was really cool. It felt like a pride event.

There was a guy who came over ,who was working on an old ‘60s pickup, and he was like, “Oh, this is really interesting.” And he milled around for a bit, and chatted with people (including me), and then he picked up a copy. A family member of his had a trans partner, and he was like, “I want to bridge this gap between our two cultures.” The act of building a car to one’s taste and reflecting oneself in a machine, with the act of consciously building oneself as a person through transness – and fashion, wardrobe, all of that kind of stuff. That link is something that I hope resonates with a lot of people, that these are just different ways to express oneself that can be very cohesive, they can go together very neatly.

The book is obviously a transfem-oriented work, the “we” is us – you and I, and the collective trans community. I focus on transfems in this project because it’s the experience I’m most familiar with, and the one I thought I could represent the most wholesomely, because that’s my life. I know what we’re missing in terms of our art, and I wanted to create it, and that was the goal with this piece.

What we deserve in our art, would you say?

That title came about pretty early. When I started working on that, it was right after I moved from Texas to Reno. I had just been through a bunch of stuff – institutional bigotry, random bigotry, Reno is a pretty rough city to be openly trans in – and it was also the first legislative season that I’d say things really continued intensifying. It was post-Trump, but there was not the relief that I was kind of hoping for – where I was expecting sort of everybody would lay off the gas, it would legislatively get easier, and the legal situation wouldn’t continue to worsen.

The thing is, it continued, and I was depressed about it. I was like, “Well, I can’t really affect how laws are made in the U.S.” – I did some charity streams and stuff around then, but the one thing I’m in a better position to do than a lot of other people is to make positive art of us. That kind of shaped the project, I think.

That’s a really nice approach to take to trans art.

I did an interview with Lavender Magazine where the interviewer was like, “Oh, this is something really groundbreaking,” and all this stuff. And I’m like, “Not really.” I think the biggest goal with this work is that it becomes the seed for a bunch of later work. I don’t really see it as anything super revolutionary on its own – I think it’s good, I’m certainly happy with how it turned out, I think everybody who’s in it is happy with how it came out – but I think that what I’d really like for people see it and realize, “Oh, I can do this too.” I want to see all of the art that this hopefully becomes a piece of the inspiration for.

I think that we’re living through a renaissance in trans art, currently, there’s a lot more stuff getting a lot more mainstream recognition. I was inspired by a bunch of other artists and photographers – including cis people, it wasn’t just like I was inspired by trans people – but I think that, if this becomes part of the constellation of work that could inspire further art, that would be fantastic.

I know you’re obsessed with that new movie that came out [I Saw The TV Glow - AD]. I keep meaning to see it, and I hear a variety of different interpretations of it, most of which are kind of upsetting. And I think that there’s a really good place for that, because I think that representing pain is very important – recognizing shared pain is one of the things that makes us stronger as a community. But I don’t think that it is the only thing we can build ourselves around. I think there needs to be a recognition of shared joy as well. I think, in our lives, we eventually reach a point where it’s like, “Yeah, I’d like to feel decent about myself.” I think that there’s a place for lots of different kinds of art. Yeah, that’s about it. Be genuine, make art.

That’s the headline: Be Genuine, Make Art.

We Deserve This is available from Carrara Media, Barnes and Noble, and Amazon.

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