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Anyone who’s done self portraits has an appreciation for how difficult a task it is. One person has to do what normally takes a team of people. And then there’s the whole logistical disconnect that comes about when photographer and model are one in the same. There’s no such thing as a candid self portrait, so there’s really no excuse for not planning out a shot. Having said that, I often wing it, which can lead to frustration but it also leads to new discoveries.
Inspired by an Henri Cartier Bresson image (Martine’s Legs) and a James Kavanaugh poem (There are Men Too Gentle to Live Among Wolves). (July, 2012)
In my first post, “An Introduction”, I mentioned that Julia has evolved and continues to grow. Thanks to this photo project that evolution continues at an accelerated pace (which is good, because I’m not getting any younger, lol). And as I wrote, I’m not trying to “pass”, but instead trying to find the true Julia; whose gender is mixed.
I undertook this project with the goal of educating the ignorant and making a little more room in this world for transgender people. But I am learning a lot about myself as well and refining my look and appearance in the process. This project is now over a year old and, looking through the images from last year, I can say there has been quite a change. I’m looking forward to the coming years of evolution.
It is not my intention to “pass”. I am as I am. The images you see represent my gender, which is mixed. And though my body is decidedly masculine, my gender is mostly feminine. Like most transgender people of my generation (I’m a late Baby Boomer), it took me many years to come to terms with who I am. There was no category that included me and no one to whom I could relate.
What is it that makes me transgender? At its core it is how I relate to my body, myself and the world around me. There’s a profound physical schism that exists with all transgender people; body parts that are foreign and don’t match one’s body image. Emotions, attitudes and mannerisms are all affected; are all different from social norms and often create strong feelings of isolation. In my world I am a stranger among men and am excluded from the circle of women by virtue of my sex.
Being transgender is a work in progress for me in that I continue to evolve as a woman even now - especially now – that I’m in my forties. Why now? I guess because as I’ve aged I’ve grown to care less and less whether or not people know about “Julia” and what they think. I have also come to see the beauty in Julia and believe that beauty should be shared. As well, I have a loving and supportive partner who has helped foster an environment where I can grow and express myself.
There is always the question of Sexual Reassignment Surgery (SRS). My feelings on this are that there are compromises involved in either direction I choose - whether I physically become a woman or stay a man – and after considering my options I chose no “structural” changes. I live a dual life. It is the fence upon which I sit. It is my harmonic dyad; the mixture of masculine and feminine that fuel my passions. And it is my cruel fate; to be a woman in disguise, never truly fulfilling what is so innate.
This blog is about expanding the norm. It is about education, understanding and acceptance. It is for those who have come before me, for those who have suffered and died to be who they needed to be and for those who will come after me, so that they may find love and understanding. This blog is also about realizing the true beauty of transgender people. I have had more than 40 years to learn to love myself. It is my hope that these images will, with time, help you find the beauty in those around you who have the courage to live as they were created.