Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
I don't know what all of this means, but I do know that fat is definitely a feminist issue. Women's clothing is Plus Size, men's suits are Executive Cut. The tone, the shame, the descriptors, they all change from woman to man.
Front Street is a talk show showcasing current culture and politics in Chicago, hosted by Sara McCool. Guests will include local artists and social critics.
Episode "Is Fat a Feminist Issue?" This Thursday 5/5 at 7:30 -8:30pm CST.
Thursday, October 21, 2010
About 6 or 7 years ago, before or very early on in my transition, I went to a queer conference at Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies at the City University of New York. Between lectures I was standing alone in the lobby and a older butch dyke walked up to me. We had never met, but I had seen her at a conference I had attended previously. She looked at me, perhaps made a little small talk, and told me she had something for me. She asked for my address.
Friday, October 15, 2010
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
This ongoing body of work explores the power dynamics inherent in the questions asked of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people.
Many documentary photographic projects that deal with trans issues exploit the genders of their subjects, pointing to an "otherness" or inappropriately exoticizing their bodies. A Series of Questions seeks instead to make visible the transphobia and gender-baiting that can become part of everyday interactions and lives, forming a fuller picture of the various lived experiences. In so doing, this work contrasts with the dehumanizing approaches that predominate the images made of transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, and gender-variant people, which often focus solely on their gender or trans status, or use them to further a specific point about social construction and gender.
I was drawn to this project for the way it exposes the level of invasion trans people experience on a day to day basis. Strangers asking questions about our bodies and relationships that they would never ask anyone other than perhaps a very close friend. By turning the very personal questions outwards, the public is forced to grapple with what these questions mean and how uncomfortable they can make us.
The only other person I had modeled for in this intimate sort of way was Molly, and we had known each other for a long time prior. I was a little apprehensive about what it would be like with a stranger. Being photographed can be a really intimate experience. Good photos and photographers ask you to expose a lot of yourself. To truly participate I knew I needed to bring that to the table. The experience ended up being wonderful. We went to a park in deep South Philly (not necessarily known for it's queer friendliness) and although we got a number of stares I always felt comfortable, protected and safe. (Anyone who would like to participate in this project should contact the artist.)
The experience reminded me how great it is that there are a number of projects that are focusing on queer communities--projects looking beyond ourselves and trying to capture our worlds. Aside from us as queer people taking control of own representation, I love how these projects are forming bonds within our communities that otherwise never would have been there. I am able to meet artists and models and through my being photographed I have a shared experience with countless others.
I've noted before that transitioning is a very isolating experience. We transition (some of us more publicly than others) we feel awkward and uncomfortable and lonely and lost. Then we begin to pass and, for some of us, we're so relieved that we just want to be left alone. This happened to me and being left alone was fine, until I realized I was alone. Not literally alone, not unsupported--I had great friends, a wonderful family and an amazing partner. I just didn't have that same group around me that seemed to come out of nowhere when I moved to college and really came out publicly as a dyke.
Part of this is certainly a change in life circumstances. I don't want to go out to a street fair, get wasted and look at at people. (All those things are great, but I'm partnered and too old. I prefer to sit and get wasted in a darkened bar or my living room.) I've met other trans guys, many of whom I like a lot, but for what ever reason our paths don't cross on a regular basis and I don't feel that sense of connection.
These projects make me feel a little more connected, they help us all be part of one big picture. I recognize names, I recognize faces, I recognize people. We are making our own culture and we are beginning to do it smartly, consciously and, most importantly, we are doing it together.
Saturday, April 24, 2010
We stayed in touch for a while but over time lost track of each other. I never forgot her spirit or her work. When I was in New York working on my MFA I began to wonder whatever happened to her. Using the magic of Google I learned that she was also in New York getting her MFA at SVA. Our paths had crossed again and I couldn't be more pleased. We managed to find each other right as she was beginning to flush out a new project photographing queer youth. I'd been photographed by Molly before and was happy to participate again. She showed up at my apartment while I was hanging new curtains. I was wearing pajama pants, a white t-shirt, bunny slippers and a tool belt. She dug in my closet, found the perfect outfit (which still included the bunny slippers), helped me bind my breasts, gel my Mohawk and for the first time in a long time I felt happy in my body.
One peek at my facebook pictures and it becomes pretty evident that I'm not always aware of my face when I'm being photographed. Somehow Molly goes beyond the face and finds the strength, vulnerability, power, hope and pride in a person. She can find that part that's been beaten down to the point that you think it's lost. Just when you're ready to give up on it you hear "Stop! Don't move. Right there."
There are very few things that I feel this passionately about, but, my friends, even if it's only $5 put it towards something more lasting than a beer. Its not often that your money has the chance to change the life of both a young queer in Iowa, and every queer in the country. But don't take my word for it. Watch the trailer below.