No photographs, please...
April 12, 2016
“Gina, you seem to be doing great things and we’d love to have you on our show. Send us a few photos of when you were male along with your birth name and I’ll show them to our producer and we’ll get right back to you.” She said.
“I’m sorry, I don’t share that information.” I replied. “Oh. The story is in the change and people need to see before-and-after to get it, so we really have to have those. Let me know if you change your mind.” This conversation has taken place a number of times over the years when talk show representatives or news organizations have reached out for new people to talk about being transsexual or transgender, usually during ‘sweeps weeks’.
And then came Laverne Cox and Janet Mock; strong, empowering women who elevated the profile and status of transgender women. Then came the TV series ‘Transparent’ on Amazon. Then came Caitlyn Jenner. And suddenly, ‘being trans’ is hot.
Yet in the aftermath of all those changes, the one constant I see is how stories of transsexuality or transgender still seem forced to include the obligatory birth name and pre-transition photos. As if one’s transition cannot be understood without a ‘ta da!’ moment, like the culmination of a magic trick. As if a guy from the audience is brought on stage to walk behind a curtain, only to reveal a woman when the curtain drops.
My transsexual history is just that – mine. As a motivational speaker, writer, and coach, I rely on my words to convey the necessary information to garner the desired emotional response or reaction from people.
In the last year I’ve included stories of my life when male as a tool for illustrating how to overcome adversity, overcome familial and societal expectations, and of how to ‘be authentacious’ ®
I speak of how the nearly all of romantic loves of my life have left upon learning of my transsexuality, and the feelings of shame and rejection associated with that.
I speak about my time when, as male, I was a spokesperson for Dodge Truck Engines, when I was a George Michael lookalike, and how people responded to those personas.
Are photographs from those times necessary for you to know what it feels like to hide your true self behind a fabricated image you’ve created for the world to see?.. For you to imagine a time when you are being, and being seen, only for who you are without comparison to what you used to look like?.. If you were being honored with an outstanding achievement award, would you want your 4th grade photo – the one with the glasses and braces – used in your introduction?..
I’m not embarrassed by my past; in fact, I’m actually quite proud of many of those old photos. And like finding one’s childhood diary, I may even skim through them once in while, though never feeling a need to post it online. I trust you to understand.
As always, continue to ask me anything as that is how we learn. Just don’t be upset if I don’t give the response you want.