all hail devin halbal: princess of the dolls

an investigation into who the icon behind the “met gala behaviour” is, and why I will forever be a hal.baddie stan

“The trade is trading and the dolls are dolling”

– devin halbal

The Trade are TRADING 😍🇹🇷✌🏾

♬ original sound – Devin Halbal

i first encountered Devin, aka @hal.baddie, whilst scrolling on TikTok. 




her words read like an inspirational piece of wall art, but coming from this gorgeous glowing trans girl with a selfie stick, walking around somewhere on the turkish coast, they hit like a revolution call.


Elevate. Activate. Appreciate. 🙏🏾

♬ original sound – Devin Halbal

those words stuck in my head, my new ‘live, laugh, love’, and immediately i was obsessed – i knew i wanted to become a follower, not just of her tiktok, but of her in general. 

and so started my hal.baddie stanship- all hail devin halbal, princess of the dolls.

whilst thinking about writing this article and talking to my other trans sisters, i realised just how pivotal her online existence feels, especially for other young trans women of colour like myself.

but who was she? where did she pop up from? and most importantly how could i, a fellow trans girl of colour, elevate, activate and appreciate? 

those words stuck in my head, my new ‘live, laugh, love’

devin halbal, 22, from new york, is a writer, educator and activist who carved out a path for herself as an online influencer during the global pandemic in 2020. she previously worked for the lgbt centre of NYC but can now be found travelling the world, publishing daily mantras on tiktok and documenting her escapades and her always “met gala behaviour”.


“Met Gala Behavior” —Devin Halbal

♬ original sound – Devin Halbal

as iconic as she seemed online, i did wonder if she came from a fairly privileged position?

trans people succeeding and living fulfilling free lives, whilst a wonderful thing, often seems to come off the back of rich parents and an already secure position.

this can feel alienating as a working class trans woman without any family support, and this level of freedom and joy can often feel extremely out of reach.

in a quest to find out a bit more about her background, and how she came to be, i did some research and found that perhaps me and devin weren’t so different after all.

devin started her global travels in 2020, after a friend set up a gofundme for her in order to move out of her family home and find safe housing in new york away from them.

after experiencing issues in finding housing in the city due to inaccessible rent prices, devin started to google countries that she could move to instead as a us citizen.

croatia was the first place that came up. her plan was to rent an apartment there for a year whilst working as a freelance writer, able to afford a much higher quality of life there.

however she soon missed her chosen family in new york and ended up leaving croatia early. 

this initial experience of travelling to new places gave her the motivation to continue though, and so she got back on the road and travelled through montenegro, denmark and greece.

her most recent travels saw her explore turkey, and it was during this time that she started to see a rise in followers on social media.

from videos of her walking around port towns with her selfie stick asking for “doll check ins” to a popular video of herself getting a shave in a turkish barbers, devin’s content feels so free of fear and full of genuine light. 

travelling solo whilst brown and trans to me feels almost impossible, due to the threat of violence and hostility i could face in places i’ve never been before. but seeing devin navigate these situations with such positivity and radiance is so motivating.

she has spoken about the importance of staying safe whilst travelling as a woman, especially as a trans woman, however you can still see the fearless nature of her, and this feeling that nothing will stop her. 

i cried watching her try on wedding dresses and royal gowns in a boutique- the same tears i cried whilst watching the episode of pose where the main girls were trying on wedding dresses and looking phenomenal whilst doing so.


The dolls deserve more representation 💌😍

♬ original sound – Devin Halbal

travelling solo whilst brown and trans to me feels almost impossible, due to the threat of violence and hostility i could face in places i’ve never been before. but seeing devin navigate these situations with such positivity and radiance is so motivating.

moments like these, for girls like us, are rare to see in the media and are often hard, sometimes impossible to imagine for ourselves. 

even the thought of stepping into a wedding dress shop terrifies me, but seeing devin twirl around in a big white and maroon traditional gown gave me hope. 

seeing a young trans girl celebrate her own life and freedom so boldly, genuinely inspires me to be proud of my own, which according to an interview with devin in w magazine, is always her intention- “right now my primary goal is just building the dolls up”. 

it’s this kind of sisterly upbuilding and motivation that is vital in this time of anti-trans legislation and hostility towards trans women in particular. according to stonewall’s report into trans life in the uk, 2 in 5 of us have experienced a hate crime in the last 12 months.

from my own experiences and those of my trans siblings, i suspect this is more, and living openly as a trans person seems to get heavier by the day. 

it’s because of this that seeing a girl like devin, a young trans woman of colour from a marginalised background and without family support, move through the world with such agency and grace, is deeply moving and something to be cherished. 

i am grateful to know many girls like her- and have lost other sisters with her same beaming trans power. 

her being an influencer in a sea of privileged cis white travel bloggers is in itself a revolutionary act. 

it’s also a reminder, in times of overwhelming hardship as a trans person, that we do carry this incredible presence and all deserve a life that is free and full of positivity.

her being an influencer in a sea of privileged cis white travel bloggers is in itself a revolutionary act.

i hope that devin continues to travel and continues to bless us with her content. i’m excited to see what she does next and follow her on her journey of motivation and “elevation”, as i am with all of my trans siblings globally. 

i also hope that she is given all of the opportunities that she deserves as a trans woman of colour and that more people are able to connect with her and her message. 

whilst writing this article i posted a question on my instagram asking trans women in particular “what does devin mean to you?”. 

devin reposted my question to her story and tagged me (i screamed) and the response to it was amazing to see. 

she just is joy, and seeing someone who is so unapologetically trans and so full of joy is just so welcoming, comforting and makes me feel joy too

— @thedollnameddan

as a south asian trans girl, she is my spiritual leader

— @amala.ajithkumar

she is the tapped in ts goddess guide that we all need right now

— @azamorxx

she made me more comfortable in my own trans body

— @h4mi.ii

she inspires me as a trans woman that i am who i am and nobody can decide who i am

— @kiyaaseth

it is so amazing seeing a trans girl as the embodiment of love, positivity and joy!

— @evathedoll

she’s everythingggg

— @discoverbambam

so there we have it- the feeling of love and admiration for devin is unanimous.

she taps into something that we wish to see in both ourselves and all of our trans siblings, and i hope she continues to bring us her joy, positivity and light more and more.

i will keep on being a hal.baddie stan and will continue to “elevate, appreciate and activate” not just myself but for my trans sisters and siblings near and far.

princess devin halbal forever.