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Elaine's photographs contain nudity.
I think, as a woman who transitioned, my body and I haven't always been the best of friends. And I think that the interesting thing about transitioning, maybe the challenging thing if you want, is getting to the point where not only do you recognize that you don't necessarily have the best relationship with your body, but also you know how to fix it. I don't know what she wanted and I know what she's been telling me and I haven't been able to understand until pretty recently, or maybe not that I haven't understood, but more I didn't know how to listen. And now it just feels like my body. And I think I understand what cis people feel like, because it's just theirs, they don’t question it, they don't have to interrogate their relationship with it. And I know, now that I've done this thing, I don't really interrogate my relationship with it anymore.
If you picture yourself in a really uncomfortable sweater that you're sewn into, it's a magical sweater. So it grows with you and like, don't overthink it, right? But you're always a little scratchy, you're always a little itchy, a little uncomfortable. And then you meet someone who says, God, I was in this really uncomfortable sweater, and I got to take it off. And I was like "Fuck, I can do that? And also other people are uncomfortable in their sweaters?" And then you figure out how to remove your sweater and you don't feel that constant discomfort anymore. That's what it felt like before.
That's the other cool thing about it, about my body, is I've really had to learn how to communicate with her about how to grow and shape, and the practice of chemically transitioning with hormone replacement therapy has been absolutely fascinating. It's just super grounding in a way of like, I know what I'm doing to my body, with my body. And I can see her changing over time.
I hate the fact that I've had to do these things to make it work. Transitioning is the best fucking thing I've ever done in my entire life; the act of transitioning isn't the challenging part. The challenging part is that there are people out there who don't understand that, and don't appreciate it for what it is, a sort of act of self-creation and and self-actualization as this thing of beauty. And I hate that, especially at this moment in 2023, the idea of transitioning is so repellent to lawmakers in certain parts of the country and the world that we are denied what is undeniably life saving-care. That's what I don't like about it.
The hands are one of the things that give us away, because testosterone makes for really big and knuckly hands, and I say big and knuckly as though they’re value judgements; it’s not. I'm also six-foot-four. So proportionately I just have very large hands. But I'm an artist and a rock climber, so large hands are good for manipulating a paintbrush and for climbing on fake plastic rocks. So they have their uses, and I've done a lot of really wonderful things with them, but I hate the fact that they are easily identified as non-traditionally feminine as a giveaway. So I wanted to highlight my hands in this project as something that I can't change, but that I love because of what I've done with them, and what I can continue to do with them.
There's no one way to do it. If you want to go on hormone therapy, do it. If you don't, don't do it. No one has a right to tell you how to use your own body. And anyone who thinks otherwise, whether they themselves are trans or cis, is on the wrong side of history. I would also say that to those who are considering their own gender identity, if you don't feel safe now, you will feel safe later. And if you don't feel seen now, you will feel seen later. Just just stick it out if you can, and think about how grateful you will be to be able to tell someone who was young in two or three or five or ten years that it's going to be easier. Do that for me. And know that you're not alone.
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