As I Am
“I exist as I am, that is enough” Walt Whitman
The project, “As I Am”, arose out of my process of coming into my gender identity as a non-binary trans man. Self portraits became a refuge from words that felt limiting and a place to listen to the wisdom my body. Photography is a medium associated with reality, with capturing a moment. Trans existence and experiences are continually scrutinized, questioned, and erased from cultural reality. To photograph myself is to make my multitude of experiences visible and validated. Self portraiture and time is the means with which I am able to look at myself, and tease apart truth from an imposed binary gender system in dominant culture that seeks to erase me.
Body postures, colors, symbols, emotions, objects are gendered from the moment of birth, and imposed on humans depending on their genitalia. My images challenge those gender norms, and find new possibilities of existence through the dynamic tension of contradiction. Through contradictions new ways are made possible.
Each photograph has a span of time between printing and completion. As time passes for each photograph, the narrative I started with changes. I add on to certain portraits with gold leaf, paper, paint and objects, changing the original image, allowing the portrait to transcend into something more. With each addition to a portrait, I am blessing the full existance of my trans identity and honoring the time it has taken me to arrive where I am, and the continual journey I am on. Each photograph becomes a narrative in my change. This project started as a means to witness and see the truth of my gender identity; it morphed into a celebration of myself and the power that exists in the trans identity.