Growing up, I was never all that interested in having my picture taken. Looking back now, I understand why. But at the time I guess I felt I just wasn’t all that photogenic. I wasn’t averse to it, I would pose if asked, but I was never the type to “photo bomb” someone just to get in the frame.
Over the years I had my picture taken from time to time. There are still quite a few in albums or now in digital cameras or hard drives, maybe on relative’s walls or curios. I don’t know.
I know quite a few transgender people who almost try to erase their prior life – mementos with their birth name or photos of them as their birth sex are absent from the walls and dresser tops, instead relegated to albums stashed in the dusty recesses of their home…if at all.
I’m kind of ambivalent with regard to photos of me from “before.” I have one hanging on my wall when I was 9 years old. Well, it’s really a picture of Mickey Mantle. He just happens to be standing with his arm around me! I’ve treasured this picture that was taken by my uncle Andy. It was every kids dream. #7 Mickey Mantle. I was a happy kid. Why wasn’t I smiling? I thought I was. But look at the picture! (well, imagine you are…I’ll describe it) I am standing with what I thought was a smile but kind of a half-smile that more or less defined for me what a smile was through the years.
People don’t usually photograph bad times. Fights with loved ones (Unless you are on a reality show or a You Tube attention whore) or injuries…no, you photograph each other and places during happy times. So why, no matter what was happening, was I not smiling? I thought I was. I don’t look “UN-happy” I just don’t look “completely” happy…if that makes sense.
Until recently –
Since I have begun my transition from male to female, I have been chronicling my journey in many ways. A monthly photo slide show is one. Especially since starting hormone treatment I have wanted to see any changes via time lapse since they are so subtle. I have shown a few people this ever growing collection of photos and EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. The comment is something like:
Wow, you look so happy!
What a smile!
I’ve never seen you look so happy!
On and on. Same thing in person, I don’t feel like I’m walking around with a big stupid grin on my face, but I must be. It always gets noticed.
I actually LIKE having my picture taken now. I feel relaxed and confident.
We transgender folk are an insecure lot – we question everything and often doubt if these feelings we have are real or the result of something else…among dozens of others. But for me, all it takes to put that to rest is to look at a picture. There it is, the million watt smile, and I KNOW, I am doing what is true and authentic.
Pictures don’t lie.