Saturday, January 8, 2011

A chest surgery photo adventure

I'm busy packing my bags in preparation for a trip with a friend of mine to Florida, where he is having chest surgery next week.  I first photographed him in 2007, when he had just began taking testosterone.  A few months ago, he told me he was planning to have chest surgery and asked if I would be interested in photographing him again, and of course I was.  Though originally he asked me to photograph him post-op in Boston, one conversation led to another, and he is so graciously allowing me to accompany him to Florida to photograph and be a part of his experience.

I am thrilled to be involved in his journey, and I am greatly humbled that he trusts me enough to let me be a part of what is bound to be a very intense and personal experience.  I remember the intensity and excitement of my own chest surgery, though now that I am 6 years post-op, I almost can't remember what it felt like to inhabit a body that didn't feel like mine.  Though it took me years to get used to my chest, now it feels like it has always been this way, flat and masculine.

I have also received permission to photograph his surgeon, which I am greatly looking forward to.  Part of my goal with this project is to include providers who work with our community, and this will be the first portrait I make of a surgeon.

I could never fully articulate how grateful I am that people continue to allow me into their lives to make photographs, nor could I ever express how profoundly my connections with other queer and trans folks affect me.  I am very much looking forward to this trip, as it will be the first time I have spent a full week experiencing and documenting someone else's experience with chest surgery.  I've got bags full of cameras and film, a few clothes, my journal, and my copy of "Butch is a Noun" by S. Bear Bergman, which seems like appropriate reading for such a journey.

Below are the two photographs I took of Alex in 2007.  I can only imagine how thrilled he must be that after next week, he will never have to wear that binder again.  Alex also has a website about his transition for those who are interested.

Alex, 2007

Alex's Binder, 2007

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