View Full Version : Hearts On Our Sleeves: Portraits and Stories of Transgender+

21-May-2016, 16:10

By the time I was four I knew I was not a girl, but back then, there was no option to do anything about it. I thought puberty would fix everything, but then I started having periods. I don't remember anything at all about my 7th grade year because I was completely dissociated. When I came back to reality, I resigned myself to being a girl and completely buries any memory of my true male self. Over the years, I had a few lesbian lovers, but I always told them that “I am not a lesbian”, which, understandably, confused the heck out of them.

2 years prior to my transition, I saw this painting called "Mermaid Metamorphosis" by Sheila Wolk in a print store in Vancouver. For some reason, I just *had* to have it. During my years in psychotherapy, I had a very important dream, I walked up a hill to a mausoleum, and inside was a slab of stone. Lying on the stone was a four year boy, pale, naked and lying very still, He had no genitals whatsoever. Then he said, with his eyes still closed, “Don't kiss my sex”. In fairy tales, you kiss the princess to wake her up. So here, “do not kiss my sex” meant that I must not wake up my male self and sexuality. The next morning, I knew exactly what the dream meant. I went to my therapist and told her that I had to transition. And after answering some searching questions from her, she gave me her blessing -- which was a requirement for transition at that time.

Reactions to my decision were almost universally greeted with support, if not outright enthusiasm. My beloved stepmom said, "That's great! I've always wanted a son!" My partner, Cynthia McQuillin, said, "Oh, good!, I finally get to meet the man I fell in love with".

I see myself as a twin, Jane and James, joined at birth, and separated when I was 56.

-- Dr. James Robinson, PhD in Biology with a particular love for Paleontology

"Hearts On Our Sleeves: Portraits and Stories of Transgender+"

p.s. for those who do not know, I am doing two other portrait projects currently:

In "Transformations:Cosplay", I am photographing cosplayers / media-genre costumers in costumes and in their "civilian attires". The work in progress slideshow is here: http://richardmanphoto.com/PICS/TransformationsCosplay-Portfolio/

In "Worldbuilders of Science Fiction and Fantasy", I am photographing genre writers, artists, and editors. The work in progress slideshow is here: http://richardmanphoto.com/PICS/WorldbuildersSFnF-Portfolio/

Randy Moe
21-May-2016, 18:52
What a story told.

Richard your color processing has vastly improved. Good work and keep the 'faith'!

22-May-2016, 02:52
Thanks Randy. Using Kodak C-41 chemical and paying big $$ for Silverfast really help with the color processing. I may print a few images REALLY large (5 by 8... feet) later on this year and I will have my wife to make sure all the colors look right before printing :cool:

George E. Sheils
24-May-2016, 01:34
What a fine story to go with a strong portrait. Excellent work, Richard.

Edit: I forgot to mention the Transformation project is really good. My favourite image is number 14/68 the girl in the green dress.

24-May-2016, 03:16
What a fine story to go with a strong portrait. Excellent work, Richard.

Edit: I forgot to mention the Transformation project is really good. My favourite image is number 14/68 the girl in the green dress.

Thanks George, re: #14 - after I set up the session with her, I found out that she is actually local to me. She graduated from UC last May and in fact I will see her again this weekend. I plan to do a follow-up photo shoot as her skills improved quite a bit. One thing I need to do (besides fixing some of the color cast issues) is to add the captions to the images. I have heard wonderful stories.

Thanks again. I have two more sessions scheduled for the "Hearts on Our Sleeves" project in the next 2 weeks. Very excited.

27-May-2016, 17:21
Nice shot. I think this one is my favorite of yours I've seen.

13-Jun-2016, 03:47

"I got active in the Transgender Day of Visibility [event] because while Day of Remembrance is important, I was really hungry to talk about something other than death for trans."

"Growing up, I felt like I lived my whole life behind glass, and I wasn’t allowed out and that really affected everything. Transitioning in part is letting the glass down and that was really scary. I see positive changes everywhere, I hear less anger from people, particularly from younger folks, and certainly there are more support."

-- Lance Moore, photographed on June 12, the day of the terrorist attack in Orlando

24-Jun-2016, 03:13
Jean, gender fluid Drag King that sometimes participates in burlesque shows. Jean also DJ at goth clubs and events, which is where we met for this photo session. She grew up in a very acceptable family and neighborhood where her gender fluidity was never an issue.

"Hearts of Our Sleeves - portraits of Transgender+ People on 4x5 large format film"


17-Jul-2016, 04:06
BJ Fadem
B was born intersex. In those days, the usual recommendation was that it is easier to remove bits, and “if you raise someone as a girl, they will be a girl” and so B was raised as a girl. Even though B had the body of a football player, and indeed played at the high school’s football games somewhat clandestinely, he did not know that he was intersex until he was 19. It was then almost 20 years afterward that B finally transitioned when his body was becoming non-functioning, as his body was not producing enough testosterone and was not producing any estrogen.

B has a successful law practice and spends about 20% of his time doing pro bono work on children’s cases. He has many toys in the office and the rule is that they can play with the toys if they can reach them.


26-Jul-2016, 18:54
"I wish that no one else has to go through what I went through."

Penny's father worked in law enforcement, and perhaps because of that, Penny felt she needed to grow up trying to be hyper-masculine, even though in her heart she wanted to "feel all the soft things". Partly due to conforming to the hyper-masculine facade, and partially to protect her real self, Penny went into law enforcement herself with the National Park Service. She believes she is the first transgender woman employee in the NPS's 100 year old history.

She finds peace in her parks, the great Redwood forests of Humboldt county. A redwood tree dies, and from its root sprouts a new tree. After much difficulty of living a life that wasn't truly hers, colored by her physical stature of 6'3" and her job in law enforcement, Penny finally began her transition two years ago.

May the trees that she so loves give her the blessing and love that she so deserves.


13-Aug-2016, 13:04
Eli will be entering college in a few days. Even when he was growing up, he had always been uncomfortable about not being able to do "boy sports" and other "boy things". He was enrolled at a local all-girl Middle/High School in 6th grade, but finally understood at 13 that he was actually a boy. It was a difficult realization - not because of other people's reactions, but because of the internal processing of the things he knew he would have to face. Fortunately, both his parents, his friends, and the school were very supportive of his decision. The "coming out" process took a while, but he has been feeling much happier now that he can finally be who he is.

On a gear note, I am now using the Gibellini 4x5, a super sturdy camera that I can work with confidence. Portra 160, Cooke PS945


22-Aug-2016, 13:30
This a great series, Richard. I'm looking forward to seeing more of the project. You can get a real sense of the subjects' personalities in your images. Thanks for shining a light on the transgender community.