Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold

San Diego is helping rewrite the way stories about transgender people are told, through an exhibit of more than 30 portraits of people in the local transgender community.



I was not raised with strict gender roles. My parents were proud to have a rough-and-tumble daughter who refused to wear a dress even to a wedding or a funeral. And yet, in the three years that testosterone has been working its biological magic on my formerly female body, I have found myself wondering again and again: what does it mean to be a man? In the beginning, I tried my best to be as masculine as I could. It just didn’t take. I wasn’t that kind of guy. So what was I?

About two years into my transition, my (now ex) partner and I decided on a whim to dress me up as Tinkerbell for a party. As he was fixing my make-up and frilling up my skirt, he answered his phone: “I’ll have to call you back. I’m making my boyfriend into a fairy.” In that moment I saw myself reflected in his eyes: a gay man in a girly costume. He’d cracked the door to a kind of manhood I hadn’t even considered.

Since that relationship, I have gone in search of other men like me. I’ve ventured as far as the woods north of San Francisco for a weekend “faerie” gathering for queer, gay, and bisexual men. I’ve stayed as close to home as a little yoga studio in San Diego that holds nude classes only for men. On these adventures, I am almost always the only transsexual man. It can be scary; I’m a “naturalized citizen” to male culture and I don’t always know the customs. But even though my journey is a little different than that of the men I find in these places, they’ve usually found me a little spot in the circle.

Scott Duane, age 28, Visible Bodies creator and producer
Assigned Sex: female
Gender Identity: transsexual man
Pronouns: he/him/his

Tags: Transgender