The Gender Frontier

The Gender Frontier

by Mariette Pathy Allen


I have found photographing, writing, and participating in the lives of people on the crossroads of gender identity to be a liberating experience. The people in these photographs embody the concept that anatomy, sexual orientation, and gender identity are separate components of a human being: they influence but do not dictate who we are, how we relate to sexual partners, or to ourselves.

 

People whose bodies, partners, and sense of self differ from the majority, are not a small minority of disturbed, dangerous degenerates as many tend to assume. On the contrary, they are the ones asking the important questions: Why are we the way we are: what is nature, what is and nurture? Beyond anatomy, what does “man” or “woman” really mean? Is it possible to live without gender definition? Finally, what is the essence of a human being?

 

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    1/23 | Antonia, 1993, Christmas time, NYC. She misses her 3 children who live with her ex-wife.

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    2/23 | The “Be All You Want to Be” Convention, 2008, Chicago, IL.

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    3/23 | Blake, 2009, at the “Southern Comfort” convention. Blake is female-to-male in a long term relationship with a woman. They live in Georgia.

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    4/23 | Delia, 1999, at Fantasia Fair, Provincetown, MA.

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    5/23 | Holly, 1999. Holly Boswell created “Kindred Spirits”: a spiritual group that relates to nature and Native American spiritual practices.

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    6/23 | Monique, 2003. Monique, 21, wanted to be a singer, and to move out of her bedroom, the only room in her mother’s house where she was allowed to be “herself”.

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    7/23 | Sam, 2009, Asheville, NC. Sam has an office job, designs clothes, and identifies as “genderqueer”.

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    8/23 | Joshua, 2009. The 19 year old child of Australian missionaries in China, Joshua is in the process of transitioning from female to male. He lives in Hong Kong.

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    9/23 | Tash, 2009. A university student in Portland, OR, Tash identifies as “genderqueer”: neither male nor female. Some people, especially younger transgender youth, do not believe there are just two sexes, or that they need to jump from one to the other.

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    11/23 | Robert and Lola, 1998, Toccoa, GA. This photograph was taken on Easter, early in their relationship, when Robert was still relatively healthy.

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    10/23 | Lola and Robert, October,1999. This photo was taken at the Saturday night banquet, at “Southern Comfort”, in Atlanta, GA. Robert died in January, 2000, of ovarian cancer.

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    12/23 | Kiwi, 2002. As a student at New York University, Kiwi Grady identified as “genderfluid” and organized students from other schools to come together for “T-Parties”, and be politically active for GLBT rights.

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    13/23 | Tommy, 2003. Tommy Wang is a Chinese-American who came to the US with her mother when she was 8 years old and began his transition from female to male at 16. When this picture was taken, he was a college student and political activist.

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    14/23 | Katie, 2009. I was drawn to Katie’s tattoo when I met her at “Southern Comfort” and asked her if I could photograph her. She had just moved from Alaska, and is in the early stages of transitioning from male to female.

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    15/23 | Drew, 2002. A student at NYU, and friend of Kiwi’s, also identified as “genderfluid”. S/he wasn’t interested in “passing”: as a woman.

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    16/23 | Moe Moe, 2008, Myanmar. As a country that is over 90% Buddhist, there is greater tolerance for transgenderism.. Moe Moe lives in a village where she sells necklaces to tourists and is unlikely to be able to have enough money to have surgery, or even get enough education to get another job.

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    17/23 | Daeron, New Zealand, 2007. Daeron’s Maori father was a female impersonator who met his mother, a cocktail waitress at a club. Daeron identifies as female-to male.

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    18/23 | Ciaran, and Alex, 2003, in Brooklyn, NY Touching fingertips, a romance was just beginning. Ciaran identified as a female-to male, Alex as a “glitter boi”, a person who enjoys playing with gender.

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    19/23 | Maxine, 2009, during the Fantasia Fair conference. Tattoos were the first form of body modification that Maxine chose. It is what helped her realize that she was transgender.

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    20/23 | Nancy, and her aunt, Ida Mae, in MA.

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    21/23 | Donna and Dee, 1997, a married couple, are learning line-dancing in their basement near Baltimore, MD.

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    22/23 | Jamison Green, 2001, at fantasia Fair in Provincetown, MA. Jamison is a well-known female-to-male activist, writer, and the father of two children, through his former partner, who identified as lesbian.

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"The Gender Frontier" by Mariette Pathy Allen.Copyright © 2010 by Zonezero
Web design: Elisa Rugo. Picture Editor: Nadia Baram. Webmaster: Alejandro Malo


Comments (7)
  • Sharon  - Padrisimo
    Me encantaron las imagenes y.la.explicacion sin prejuicios.
  • Frederick H Hecker  - Bravo!
    What a good introduction to your amazing work!
    I hope it will lead people to get the full Gender Frontier book, with all the images and their fascinating stories...
  • Daphne Louise  - Thanks So Much!
    This site is fabulous! I'll spend hours here. Thanks so much for sending it along!
  • Pamela Camhe  - Great Show
    Loved the photographs and the attached commentery.
    Pamela
  • Pamela Camhe  - Great Show!
    Loved the pictures and commentary!
    Pamela
  • Brian Paul Clamp  - The Gender Frontier
    06.14.2010


    These stories are amazing, Mariette! A very impressive feature. . .

    All best,

    Brian
  • Sergio
    Me gustaron mucho las fotos. Las encuentro estéticamente bellas, además de antropológicamente interesantes y hasta pedagógicas. Antes de verlas ignoraba, por ejemplo, qué son los intragéneros (gender-queer)o géneros fluidos. Me parece que las fotos destilan sensibilidad y un interés genuino por el tema y por compartirlo. Muchas gracias!
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