Day 16 in our #30Under30PHL and we have Van Nguyen! An active member of Philadelphia’s community, one thing we’ve learned from Van is to never halt your life for a wisp of a dream. Learn more about this amazing woman below!


1. How old are you?
25

2. What do you do?
I am a preschool teacher and middle school coach who spends their off time juggling activism and art. I sit on the board for the Leeway Foundation, as well as the steering committee of hotpot!, Philly’s queer Asian/Asian-American/Pacific-Islander women and trans* folk gathering. Additionally, I perform drag king, queen, and burlesque with the award-winning Liberty City Kings Drag and Burlesque troupe.

3. What neighborhood in Philly do you call home?
I live in Southwest Philadelphia.

4. What is your favorite thing right now about Philly?
I just love how close everything is! One can feasibly walk or bike the major parts of the city without getting too lost, and every neighborhood has its own distinct flavour.

5. What do you consider your greatest achievement thus far?
Being able to pass as a fashionable, color-coordinating person when, in reality, I’m red-green colorblind.

6. If not yourself, who would you like to be?
The Doctor (Doctor Who), of course.

7. Your idea of happiness.
Whatever my cat has going on when she takes a few steps in front of me and just plops down her belly up on the floor. I sometimes just want to be content to do the same. It must feel awesome.

8. Guiltiest pleasure?
Downing family size bags of chips during the drive home from the supermarket.

9. Favorite inspirational quote?
“Know what? Bitches get stuff done.” – Tina Fey

10. What do you appreciate the most in your friends?
Punctuality and time commitment. I’m pretty busy and dislike going out frivolously, so I like to make every minute count.

11. Favorite food in Philly?
The Xa Xiu (Roasted BBQ Pork) from Hung Vuong on 12th and Washington. Sweet, greasy, and reminds me of my youth.

12. Favorite drink in Philly?
Definitely the Salep (Orchid latte) from Cafe Fulya on 2nd and Monroe. It’s just as flowery as I am.

13. Favorite song right now?
Anything by the Postmodern Jukebox.

14. A book you plan on reading?
The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest as soon as I can find the paperback copy that is the same size as the other two books that I have (matching collections are important!).

15. A book that powerfully impacted your life?
I don’t remember the title, but my first origami book in 2nd grade. It taught me how to deconstruct paper art and create new things, which is a skill that I have transferred into every aspect of my life.

16. Name one historical figure you would like to have coffee with.
Morning after coffee with Audrey Hepburn.

17. How do you like your coffee?
Straight…

18. Your main fault.
I always want everything to succeed, even if that means that I have to do all the work myself. I’ve been called a micromanager on more than one occasion.

19. What is your most prized material possession?
My quiver of homemade BDSM toys designed and created by yours truly.

20. Your biggest failure.
I delayed my transition for years after discovering myself because I really wanted to have biological children, and didn’t have a financially feasible way to bank sperm when I was in my teens. Once I was able to do so, the testing showed that my sperm had the lowest mortility rate and count of any healthy person the representative has ever seen before. So, even if I weren’t transgender, I wouldn’t have been able to naturally have children anyway. I basically halted my life for a wisp of a dream.

21. What you learned from that failure?
Being myself and dealing with the cards I was dealt is much more important than blindly worrying about the future. I became confident in my life, and I have found myself in many opportunities that I would not have had if I continued delaying my transition.

22. What is your greatest fear?
That my kids (however they come to be) will be bland.

23. Where will you be in 30 years?
Living the dream in Philadelphia, and being a real life stripteasing, glittered Ms. Frizzle.

24. Favorite thing to do on a Sunday?
My partners, of course.

25. Best date spot?
The combination of El Primo and Impact Thrift in Norristown. El Primo is as close as you can get to good Mexican food on this coast, and Impact is a thrift store warehouse. Two of my most favourite things.

26. What does happiness mean to you?
When all the stress you have can be temporarily forgotten in the comfort of your loved ones.

27. Twitter or Instagram?
I don’t use either of these.

28. Describe Philly in a Tweet.
N/A

29. Who should everyone follow on Instagram?
N/A

30. Pats or Genos?
I’ve actually never eaten a cheesesteak from a Philly restaurant before.

#30Under30PHL is a month-long series highlighting Philadelphia’s most ambitious women. Created in collaboration with Femme & Fortune and Alex Kacala.