About BecomingI remember when I was younger my mother told me that her father had said she should have been the boy, while my uncle should have been the girl. This was said in a derogatory way, for my uncle was a quiet sensitive lad, not a man’s man. He was a 60’s hippy who lived in the shadow of his much stronger older sister. His views were based on what society expected from each gender. He was a man who was raised by Victorians and those views still prevailed.
From birth we are slotted into a box; blue for a boy, pink for a girl. Boys are tough, don’t show emotion, are strong, while girls are sensitive, weaker, submissive. I shunned that as a child and was allowed self-expression as I grew. I was more at home with mud pies and water bombs. I kept stick insects and frogs. I wore jeans and t-shirts. I was definitely not ‘sugar and spice’. I replicated this with my own children, encouraging my teenage son to stick a dress on at Shambala festival and my daughter to indulge her ambitions to work in construction and events.
I am comfortable with who I am. I am a heterosexual woman with an open mind.
Over the years I learned that anatomy, sexual preference and gender roles are entirely separate entities. We may have been born male or female, but our masculinity and femininity are a choice we make. They are also societal constructions. At festivals like Shambala casual cross dressing goes mainstream in a safe and accepted space, and that is admissible. In the domain of the everyday world however it is still quite a different story. Slowly, but surely though this is changing. The trans world is becoming more widely recognised, if not always understood or discrimination free, the transgender world is emerging from the shadows.
In creating this body of work, I have met and spoken to numerous people from within the trans community. I have visited people at home, hung out at the beach, drank tea and generally learned an awful lot about how it feels to be a trans person. Individual stories differ but there are themes that run throughout. Inevitably there has been struggle and soul searching, pain and sometimes rejection. But I didn’t want to dwell on that, I wanted to explore how people feel about themselves now and how they felt when they stepped into the shoes of a new person through transitioning or cross dressing. I wanted to understand what it meant to them.
This is a story about human beings. Real people in their everyday lives. We all do the same things, we work, eat, sleep, cook, wash up, walk the dog, hang out with friends. The participants cross all the sectors of the trans community, from those that have fully transitioned, to others who simply enjoy wearing the clothes of the opposite sex.
The one thing they have in common is that they simply want to live their lives; free from judgement, abuse and rejection.