The Transgender community has made great progress in the past decade. With the 2016 presidential election, many trans people are fearful for the road ahead. The new administration seems to have taken us from five steps forward to ten steps back. Larger cities and progressive states have the reputation to be more supportive to the communities of trans people. Imagine what it would be like to be Transgender in a small town or in a conservative state like North Dakota? TransNodak is a photo series about twelve local trans people in North Dakota.
The American media has rightly brought a lot of attention to the issues of trans people and since the 2016 election; call and help centers have seen a huge increase in trans people reaching out about their mistreatment, depression, and even thoughts of suicide. When researching this topic, I had many directions I wanted to take this project. After I met and reached out to every participant, I discovered every trans person wanted to be photographed “as is.” No special props, no hair stylist, no special makeup, no retouching, etc. Once all the portraits were completed, I felt my photographs needed something more.
Through an alternative photographic process, I decided to put a new spin on the old process of tintypes by transferring a color negative onto tin. I placed several layers of different objects (like circle borders, masks, stencils,) in between each plate and aged them in cold water to intentionally make each image unique and different from each other. The digital transfer consists of each participant’s portrait, the pronoun each individual identifies with, and the date of when each individual started to “live their truth.”
The goal of this series is to draw positive awareness to the serious issues that trans people go through. Many live in fear and are bullied just because they may look different from what is considered “normal.” My hope is to end those fears for trans people, but more importantly I hope this series provides confidence to all of the trans people who put themselves out there for this project. I hope each individual sees what I saw while photographing this series. I saw that each participant was incredibly beautiful, kind, real, and unbelievably strong.