Coming Home: Portraits of women.
Examines gender by exploring transgender identity and love in the lives of women with a history of transgender. Women who are transgender face daunting challenges that must be addressed: In the US 41% of women who are trans have attempted suicide, and they are four times more likely to live in deep poverty (earning less than $10,000 a year) than other women. Data for Germany is harder to come by.
This project sheds light on the contexts of the lives of transgender women, including the discrimination and violence they experience. In addition, this project strives to remove the stigma of the “other” from transgender women by looking at the normality, even banality, of their lives and celebrating their relationships and accomplishments. Women who are also transgender, if viewed at all, are often viewed as victims because of the violence and discrimination they face. Which is why I chose to look at love. The aim of the project is not to focus on the violence or discrimination, but rather to look at love instead. A feeling that is common to all of us (hopefully) be it love of family, friends, romantic or platonic, it is something that we share and can relate to in others. The other media approved role is the Hollywood cliche of “a man in a dress” the continued casting of CIS man as women who are also trans as well as making them the continued punch line in jokes contribute significantly and directly to the process of othering that dehumanize trans women as “other” and contribute to such a high morality rate.
As an artist and a woman with a transgender history, I am looking for role models among other trans women from whom I can learn. The images I will make of women who are transgender include, when possible, their family members, partners, and pets. I do this to address concerns of inclusivity and visibility. In order not to present these trans women as isolated individuals or make a spectacle of my subjects as “other,” I will depict the web of connections each of my subjects has. The pictures will also be accompanied by the words of those participants in the project who would like to speak about their lives.
This project strives to give voice to the full spectrum of what is possible for women. I see my work as a stepping stone that will help us to understand the emerging self within communities grappling with new possibilities for conceptualizing and expressing gender. I believe that the more diverse a community is, the more stable it will be. When I was growing up, there were no role models for me of women with a gender that was not defined by a strict male/female binary. If I had had someone to look up to or someone to ask questions of, my own journey would perhaps have been easier. By showing images of women who are also, among many other things, transgender, my work can show how the world is richer than many people might expect. Presenting individuals in the context of relationships that are widely familiar is an important step toward creating a larger, more diverse human community, as well as a method that can contribute to better survival rates among women who are also transgender.