A self-portrait of transgender photographer Loren Cameron
University Under Attack for Transgender Exhibition

By Diane Anderson-Minshall

Originally published on Advocate.com September 19 2012 2:16 PM ET

Transgender photographer Loren Cameron began documenting his own journey to manhood in the early 1990s, photographing his gender affirmation from female-to-male. He also began taking images of other transgender and transsexual people in the San Francisco Bay Area and within a few years his exhibitions were nationally renown. That led to Lambda-winning books (includng Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits, which put him on the proverbial map) and photo projects (including work that focuses on the sexuality of gay trans men) and extensive lectures and exhibitions around the globe. Now the University of Minnesota at Duluth is under attack for giving Cameron a $4,000 honorarium for his appearance and presentation of transgender images, according to LGBTQNation.com.

A conservative student group affiliated with the Arlington, Va.-based Leadership Institute is objecting to the exhibition because it has explicit images of trans men. According to LGBTQNation.com, Campus Reform's Oliver Darcy complained that “A public university plans to host an event in which a self-described man displays sexually explicit images of his transition from a female to male physique. University officials also refused to comment on how the presentation is educational to the student body or provide further details on the event."

Darcy complained that this is another example of UMD funding suspicious presentations, pointing out Queer History Month, a National Coming Out day lunch, and what the writer called a speech by "anti-white author Tim Wise" on race relations. Later on Fox News, Campus Reform's Josiah Ryan argued that “UMD’s administration has spent thousands of dollars in public resources this year to support a radical and divisive agenda. While [UMD] President Lendley Black’s administration’s sponsorship of this sexually explicit presentation may satisfy a small minority on campus, it will surely offend many more students, alumni, and donors.”

For her part, Angela C. Nichols, director of UMD’s GLBT Services, told LGBTQ Nation that Cameron’s lecture is a routine guest appearance for the student services cultural center and for the Queer and Allied Student Union, the group that lobbied to bring Cameron to campus. She said that Cameron’s work would present "the diversity across the spectrum of the LGBT community at large, and to help educate students."