For those who don’t know Chella Man, he is a 22-year-old artist, activist, author, and actor who identifies as Deaf, trans, Jewish, and Chinese. He recently collaborated and executive produced Trans in Trumpland, a four-part docuseries that sheds light on the Trump administration’s harmful effect on the trans community and he has announced his first book, Continuum, to be released in June. The list of what he is working on to push for representation in our country goes on, and you should absolutely be following his endeavors. His latest project comes during National Deaf History Month — a jewelry collection he worked on with genderless, Asian-led brand Private Policy, with designers Siying Qu and Haoran Li at the helm. (This is not Chella Man’s first foray into fashion as he also collaborated with Opening Ceremony on an inclusive clothing line in 2019.)
“Redefining the machinery with my art replaced the rigidity with fluidity.”
The beautiful gold-plated pieces, which you can see in Chella’s self directed, written, and edited video above, are made to work flexibly with hearing aids or cochlear implant machinery, which Chella Man has been wearing since the age of four. He is not alone. 15 percent of the world’s population belongs to the deaf and hard of hearing communities, and we are only first starting to acknowledge disabilities in the fashion industry through campaigns and clothing lines. Chella has recognized this problem, manifesting the idea of his accompanying “The Beauty of Being Deaf” film since childhood.
“As an artist and human being, I have always desired complete control over my body and the ways I present it. This created conflict after receiving my first hearing aids at four years old. Years passed, along with my hearing, and I began to wear hearing aids…then cochlear implants. Having grown up mainstream, I was grateful for this option. Yet the appearance of hearing aids and cochlear implants have always created a disconnect. The pieces never felt like me, and I had no control over their designs. I always found myself brainstorming ways to reclaim the machinery that had become my part of me . . . Redefining the machinery with my art replaced the rigidity with fluidity.” he writes.
Throughout the film, which also includes Raven Sutton and Rayly Aquino in the cast, we are invited to develop an understanding so necessary for laying the groundwork of inclusivity in this country. “In the face of prejudice, we gain strength. Other senses heightened, coming together to form a dynamic perception of life,” Aquino signs. Watch the video in full before you scroll to shop the products, which range from $330 to $620 for pairs. 50 percent of the profit from the jewelry will go to Deaf Queer Resource Center, which is a nonprofit resource center for the Deaf, lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, transgender, intersex and queer Communities.