After best-selling author and celebrated journalist Janet Mock broke the crystal ceiling in November by becoming one of the first transgender celebrities to gain widespread coverage of her wedding, a picturesque event in Hawaii, Chicago's Precious Davis is ready for her turn in the spotlight.
Davis, who was named to the 2014 Trans 100 list, is a singer, performer, and assistant director of diversity recruitment initiatives at Columbia College Chicago. And on Friday, she'll become the first out trans bride-to-be featured on Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta, the Georgia-based spin-off of TLC's iconic, heartwarming reality show.
"Our representation shows that we are human beings, that we have emotions, that we have a desire to be loved, and to be held, and to have happiness," Davis tells The Advocate, praising the reality show for highlighting stories of trans people finding love and getting married. She also commended the affirmative tone of the episode, which presents positive representations of womanly identity and female body image in ways that Davis says elevate health and wellness for all women.
Davis is an increasingly in-demand public speaker on social justice issues who will marry the black trans male activist Myles Brady. Windy City Times interviewed Brady last year when he became the first transgender outreach coordinator at Chicago's LGBT-focused Howard Brown Health Center. Davis and Brady were also featured as a couple in The Advocate's 2015 list of 100 trans luminaries.
"When the life expectancy of a trans woman of color in the United States is 30 years old -- I just turned 30 this year -- it's unprecedented" to thrive and find love, Davis explains. She went on to emphasize the importance of finding long-term, healthy intimacy in a world marked by frequent deprivation, which is often all the more pronounced for trans and gender-variant people.
Davis stresses that she and her fiance are "choosing to be visible because our happiness should be lauded" like that of any other couple -- regardless of gender or sexuality.
"We are in such a powerful moment in history in terms of trans visibility and trans equality," Davis says. "And to add our narrative to that conversation makes us very happy!"
For nine seasons, Say Yes to the Dress: Atlanta has followed wives-to-be as they search for, try on, and ultimately select the gown that will bring to life the wedding of their dreams. The burgeoning brides are guided in the all-important dress selection by the ever-exacting bon vivant and resident fashion director Monte Durham, along with a crackerjack team of stylists at Atlanta's largest matrimonial boutique, Bridals by Lori. The boutique's owner and namesake, Lori Allen, is best friends with Durham, an out gay man whose marriage to Jakob Evans was featured on the cover of the 2014 Winter "Love" issue of Gladys Magazine.
"I'm looking for mermaid-cut, but very 'like the Queen,'" a beaming Davis tells Durham in The Advocate's exclusive sneak peek at Friday's episode. (Watch it below.)
"Precious says she wants mermaid, but everything she's describing says opulence, royalty," Durham tells the camera in his characteristic Southern drawl. "Honey, that says 'ball gown!'"
That's why Durham presents Davis with a glamorous Lazaro Perez dress to try on in Friday's episode. The bouffant ball gown features a delicate silhouette, with flaxen-pink and blanched-lemon hues, ombre ruffles, and a formfitting lace and crystal bodice, complete with a modestly dipping sweetheart neckline.
But will that Lazaro gown be the dress that makes Davis say yes? Or will Davis choose another gown for her private wedding on a secret date this summer?
The full episode has all the answers, as Davis presents herself in a number of selections, while the stylists and Davis's entourage debate the merits of each dazzlingly confectioned dress.
Davis says the dress she ultimately selects is "precious," just like her name, "fit for a queen," and "everything I could ever hope for."
Friday's episode featuring Davis, which airs at 9 p.m. Eastern on TLC, is the third installment of the show's 2016 season. Get an exclusive sneak peek at the episode below.