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Posts tagged ‘Transfigurations’

Strong Sense of Self

Excerpt from Transfigurations by Jana Marcus.

You must have a very strong sense of self to transition. (Tiffany, 42)

If I were able to transition when I was in my teens, like youth can today, I would have been socialized as other young girls are. But would I have been forced to buy into stereotypical behavior, attributes, and social norms that most young women are raised with? Would I be a cookie-cutter conformist with a very narrow idea of what a girl is and what kind of woman she should be? Would I have been raised to be a good girl, find a white knight, and raise a family?

It would have been beneficial to my physical appearance to be on estrogen before so many male features became permanent. It’s much harder to transition later in life, and I have had to rid myself of male baggage and socialization. But when that process was done I had a semi-blank slate to create my own idea of what a woman can be, instead of what society thinks she should be. By constructing the woman I am today, I was able to become my own creation, with healthier ideas and qualities I wanted to embody, such as intelligence, humor, individuality, strength, grace and class, as well as my own sense of style and unique place in the world.

I’m proud to be trans; it’s who I am. The outcome of my struggles is what makes me special, not whether I’ve had surgery to create a vagina. Millions of women have a vagina and it doesn’t make them special. What makes a person special is who they are inside, what they do with their lives, and how they make a difference in the world. That’s the kind of woman I am – always aiming to make a difference.

A Woman +

Excerpt from Transfigurations by Jana Marcus.

I am more than just a woman.
By Danielle (30)
See accompanying photo.

I used to be very scared of being transgendered. I didn’t want to fit into that community, and I lived my life as a woman. Only those very close to me knew otherwise. When Gwen Araujo was murdered I realized that I could no longer pretend to be what I was not. Gwen’s death could have been mine. I was in her situation so many times – deceiving people that I was a natural woman. I was really just deceiving myself. This was difficult for me to come to terms with, but I realized that I’m not a biological woman and I never will be. There is more than just male and female – gender is fluid. I realized that the world was messed up, not me, so I decided to turn my anger into a passion for change. Now I’m dedicated to providing services which were not available when I was young.

There’s an emotional and spiritual evolutionary process that we all must go through to accept ourselves for who we really are. I am a transgendered woman and that’s how I identify. For many years I refused to accept having been male. Now I recognize that I am of two spirits, and I’m trying to get in touch with the man inside of me. This is part of embracing my transgenderism as a whole. I’m no longer trying to be something I’m not. I’m just trying to be who I am, and to love myself.

Danielle

Transfigurations Forward

Excerpt from Forward of Transfigurations by Jana Marcus.

Forward by Jamison Green

Most people experience their gender and their sex as the same thing: most people with female bodies feel like women, and most people with male bodies feel like men. However, not everyone experiences their sex and gender as “aligned.” And while it is common for both men and women to want to improve their appearance in conformity with stereotypes that are ascribed to their sex and gender, when people like me cross gender boundaries to change our bodies, it is often difficult for others to understand.

Some small percentage of people in every race, every class, and – as far as we know – every culture since the dawn of recorded history have felt the need to transform themselves in some way in order to live comfortably with their gender. Debates about meanings of the words “sex” and “gender,” about what is “real,” and what can and cannot be really changed have raged all around us, and accusations of “deceitful” and “delusional” have plagued people like me for countless generations; yet we persist. And we continue to fascinate artists and storytellers, theologians and mythologists, psychiatrists, psychologists, physicians, social workers, ethicists, police, and perverts. While some would still make jokes about us, others are taking a new look. And when people allow themselves to experience us as human beings, they are often transformed themselves. Not that they suddenly want to change their own bodies, but that they come to appreciate the integrity of the human spirit in a new way.

Praise for Transfigurations

Here’s what people are saying about Transfigurations by Jana Marcus.

Transfigurations is a bold, gutsy visual feast – not just for the eyes, but for the heart and soul. In her courageous endeavor to explore gender, Jana Marcus takes us along a hypnotic ride that invites us to question everything we think we might know about “man,” “woman” and the typically uncharted water in between. Stunning!

–Greg Archer, San Francisco Examiner and Huffington Post

Jana Marcus’s Transfigurations is revelatory. A series of larger-than-life-size black and white portraits that – perhaps as a function of a wide-open camera lens or the fine quality of printing, but more likely because the eye of the photographer has called forth a deep veracity from the subjects – make available the human essence.

–Mareen Davidson, Art Critic, Santa Cruz Weekly.

This is powerful stuff! Transfigurations is deeply moving. Marcus captures the dignity of people with clarity and honesty, calling forth the hope that many closed minds may be opened and many faint hearts be mended.

–Dennis J. Dunleavy, Ph.D., Department of Communication, Southern Oregon University

Transfigurations – Photos

From the prize-winning book of photographs by Jana Marcus – Transfigurations.

Introduction

Transfigurations aims to illuminate who transgender people are, a subject which the mainstream culture has often shadowed in mystery and misunderstood. Navigating the waters of gender politics, the work also explores what comprises masculinity and femininity. The knowledge transgender people have acquired speaks to bridging a gap between the sexes. They have experienced the world from both a female and a male perspective. They have created for themselves what they believe masculinity and femininity to be, and they have found the courage to be who they believe they were born to be, despite daunting odds, ridicule, hate-crimes and murder.

To be transgendered is to transcend gender boundaries in our society. The strict binary boundaries of what is male and female in our culture start as early as birth, when pink or blue colors are chosen for infants. However, what if you knew from an early age you were a boy, but your body was developing as a female? What if the whole world saw you differently than you saw yourself? The transgender invididual’s experience has often been traumatic. Many have lost their families, their partners, their children and their jobs. In addition, they have qduestioned their religions and undergone painful surgeries, all in the name of becoming “whole” – to have their appearance on the outside match who they are on the inside. They have gone against the status-quo to find truth and balance in themselves, no matter what the cost. For many it has been a “do or die” situation.

In 2003, I started interviewing and photographing transgender men (female-to-males) about their journeys of self-discovery. The thought processes intrinsic to what kind of men they were striving to become, and what was informing their choices, were the stories I wanted to tell. In 2005, I turned my lens to transgender women (male-to-females) to photograph and document their thoughts on femininity and how societal pressures may have influenced their views on womanhood.

In shooting the portraits, I chose to take a formalist approach. The more I learned about the complexity of gender issues, the simpler I wanted the images to be. The stark studio, sans props, does not allow you to judge the subjects by their surroundings. They stare back at you, returning the dominant gaze, asking to be recognized, and confronting the viewer with their presence. I wanted each person to be seen simply as a human being, no different from anyone else.

I discovered that gender is both real and illusory, natural and constructed. By capturing the physical and mental transformation from one sex/gender to another, the photos reveal the importance of the body in gender identity, as well as the effects of transformative practices on the body, which creates a reality beyond ordinary experience.

I invite you to look into the faces of these truly self-made men and women.

Jana Marcus

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