Arresting Images Of Trans People Accompanied By Their Own Words Are Stunning

by Brenda Pitt

Zackary Drucker: “I identify as human.”


Policy Mic recently asked the photographer Amos Mac to contribute a portfolio of his portraits of transgender individuals to their series on Transgender Day Of Remembrance 2013. For Amos Mac, a groundbreaking artist and trans activist, the task was daunting. Portraits capture their subjects in a specific moment in time, but our identities, whether we are cisgender or transgender, are fluid. Portraits like Amos’s pinpoint an individual as they are in an instant, but they also leave room for transformation and the evolution of the self. So instead of simply presenting the photographs in light of his own identity and a trans person and running the risk of framing a subject in a way that no longer corresponds to his, her, or hir gender identity, he reconnected with his subjects and asked them to explain their current definitions of self. 


Arisce Wanzer: I find both solace and a sense of pride in being different from everybody else. I draw strength in not living up to standards that are not my own for what it is to be male or female. I love the person I know in the mirror because I see that she’s being herself.


Some replied only with their names; others wrote poetry. All responses tie in beautifully with each image. As we all do when gazing at a picture of ourselves in the past, the inspiring subjects provide windows into how they’ve evolved and how they have remained loyal to who they are in the years following their sit-downs with Mac. The pictures and the responses alone only reveal portions of the individual, but taken together, they are moving confessionals of complex and diverse human beings who are defined by far more than just their gender identities. Take a look, and let us know what you think in the comments!


James Darling: “I’m a queer, self-made transsexual man.”

Juliana Huxtable: “cyborg cunt priestess witch nuwaubian princess.” 


Ayden: I’m a gay man and curmudgeonly Jew who publicly transitioned over a decade ago. Since moving to a conservative small city for my Ph.D. (and not hating it), I’ve mostly identified as so over it.

Stephen Boyer: “There are so many factors that play into ‘identity’ posturing but a few I’m always listening to are my emotions, continually trying to remain aware of exterior immediate influences. Sexual arousal and cultural happenings all definitely help determine how I identify every day … some days I’m more ‘androgynous’, some days I’m more ‘butch’, some days I’m more ‘femme’, some days I’m more ‘queerfreak’, some days I’m sorta ‘normal’ … and really, what does it matter, as long as I am loving and being loved and getting laid!”

Quay Dash: “I’m a black trans woman of knowledge, wisdom and understanding, living life and loving every aspect of it.”

Rocco Katastrophe: “There are many levels to my identity: first and foremost I am a lover of cats, second I am a feminist, then a bunch of other shit — like someone who is up for almost any adventure, someone who suffers from logorrhea, a good friend, a twin, an airplane cry-er, a hyper sensitive new age guy, a Californian, sober, magical thinker and a straight man who is culturally queer/trans.”

Colin Self: “Trans doesn’t always have to apply to gender or sexuality. I try to unidentify or be in a constant state of flux. I kind of see gender as a part of my disciplines — same as music, dance, appearance. I identify as transdisciplinary — it’s a dedicated practice of existing in the world perpetually as myself.”


D’hana Perry: “I identify as genderqueer/androgyne.”

Auston Bjorkman: “I identify as a menswear designer primarily. My gender identity is as a masculine person. I have never felt any other way, even though I was trained to believe otherwise. But that conditioning just never took with me.”

Black Cracker: “Thin-skinned and skinned knee plenty. Nothing short of a tree. Much less than all the sand. It falls. A fractal hidden. A silent sea.”

Janet Mock: “I’m a writer and trans woman living visibly, the daughter of a Native-Hawaiian mother and African-American father, a lover of books and popular culture, and the author of Redefining Realness.”

Dominic: “Personally, I don’t like labels or put myself in a box, so I just go by Dominic. It’s who I am, but if I had to pick a label, I guess a man of trans experience could fit.”

Rae Spoon: “I identify as a musician, an author and a composer, as well as queer and gender-retired.”

Elias: “Transfag.”

Thanks to Policy Mic  and Amos Mac

Images via Policy Mic and Amos Mac

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