Loved ones. WHERE DO I EVEN BEGIN? This is my brother, Liam. Liam is transgender. For all purposes of spreading the love we’re going to chat a bit about that but I want to make something so beautifully clear before we do. Liam’s gender or his sexual preference has never been his defining persona for ME. Liam is and has always been one of the most thoughtful, poetic, wisest of souls, oldest of souls, spiritual, kindest, well spoken, compassionate, empathetic, GOOD, intelligent and hilarious people I’ve ever had the honor of living side by side with. When Liam identified as female and faced the music of his true life’s identity which lead to the birth of Liam, it affected me very little. Liam is still Liam. The essence of Liam is still the same. His identity and all the pronouns were embraced whole heartedly. (And that’s not to say that I haven’t slipped up from time to time and felt like a giant ass in the shame of my unintended insult. After all, the majority of my memories took place with that of another name and other pronouns.) But the only way this giant change affected me was in the form of a giant swoll of pride. Liam was now not only all of those things I listed above but he was brave and courageous too. And mark my words, this facing of oneself that rubs so uncomfortably up against the standards of our social norms is incredibly brave.
But this isn’t about me. This is about Liam and the effect of embracing his transgender self has impacted his world and the ripple of goodness he sends out into the world. So to start this little diddy off the right way, I would like to put it in the words of Liam himself. “From field to metropolis, the demise of shitty men has begun….join us as we speak with the Movement’s War Chief and Admiral.” And if this isn’t the best picture to represent that statement, I don’t know what is.
“When I had the idea for these photos, it was originally for my wife’s birthday. I see women doing all these sexy photo calendars for their boyfriends/husbands to hang up and I got to thinking how hilarious that would be if I joined in on the debauchery. In all seriousness, we’ve been through a lot together and truly, nobody’s ever loved me in all the ways she has. I mean that we’ve loved each other in honesty, ugliness, intimate and brave ways. To acknowledge this, I wanted to make a calendar that would make her laugh out loud at how ridiculous I am but also be the most accurate representation of who I am. The idea evolved over time into something really special to me because as I was planning to do the shoot for somebody else in humor, I realized how much it was for me, too. I knew I could either panic over how different my body feels in comparison to other men or experience it for what it was: an opportunity of body positivity that not everybody has the platform or privilege to expose.”
“I started my transition from female to male in 2015 at 25 years old and its no joke, man. Nobody tells you how well you’ll be treated as a man. That shit is PRIMO. The ears perk up and your ideas are considered first. However, I find that my safety lies equally in that people know I’m a man as well as them not knowing I wasn’t always that. Nobody could’ve prepared me for the dynamic of having a spirit run by an internal femaleness and an outward expression of maleness- that I can’t and won’t walk behind a woman on the sidewalk at night because I don’t want her to feel fear or that engaging in play with small children can look a way that is completely inaccurate. There are ways we get by though. Trans people can make themselves fit because we get resourceful in order to validate our identities but to also experience the human right of feeling safe. We do this in the way we walk, train our voices to be higher or lower on the phone and at drive thru’s, with things that make our hips smaller and less feminine or where to add curves when trans women don’t have as much. My wife watches the door of any beach bathroom I enter since my scars are more than noticeable and can put me in a dangerous situation. When I close that door, I know that anything can happen if suspecting eyes feel some type of way. I’ve even accidentally slipped up in social situations when women are talking about their periods and its created confusion when I relate to how much they suck (talk about retracting a statement). Ultimately, by showing my body in this photo shoot I’m paying homage to the woman who knows me best but its also me surrendering my own personal white flag to the art of Hiding that my community has had to master. Everybody deserves to be deeply loved and protected by their own selves but also by the ones they share space with.”
“Having said all that, I want you to know I am beyond fulfilled despite the realities of my everyday hamster-wheel of affirmations and decisions. Being a person of Trans experience, it’s a balancing act of seeing changes and none; of having expectations of development and sometimes feeling stagnant. You want to feel like you’ve arrived but never really knowing when you finally made it. Transitioning from female to male is also a grey area of feeling comfortable in my masculinity but struggling with the group I now belong to. So many ‘good men’ are welcomed only in femininity by women and are in turn rejected by other men as valid or true. I have to own that as a ‘passing’ male figure in society that there’s nothing wrong with a guy that can compete in sports and enjoy all the masculine genres but may also be rooted in a nurturing feminine expression. We celebrate that the gender roles in our house are all over the place but outside of my home, I have a responsibility greater than how I identified before. That’s not some hero complex, either. It’s an obligation to do right by the women I’m surrounded by, the ones who took me in while growing up and gave me a place in their homes, the women who exercised their rights in a culture that doesn’t give a shit and the privilege I have of having been on more than one side of the gender arena. When my wife, Sam, opened her calendar in September, she had the exact reaction I wanted. She cried out with tears in her eyes asking me “what the hell is wrong with you?!” followed by “this is so beautiful!” She got it. She always does. Enjoy my sister’s badass photography skills and enjoy these gems of me in my underwear.”