1.What does masculinity mean to you?
I have asked this question a lot within the work that I have made, and I have heard a lot of different answers. All of which are valid and true. I don’t know if there is an answer I have found that can be put into words for my own experience yet. I could talk about the differences we ascribe to masculinity and femininity, but I don’t think that those differences really make sense to me at all any more.
All I know is that my body is more calm when in a physically “male” appearing state. I am more able to concentrate on social connection and personal goals when my body is at peace with my brain.
2. In your series “Female to ‘Male’” you use quotation marks around the word “male” to hint at the fluidity of identity. How is this fluidity expressed in your work?
To me, being “male” is my way of explaining my trans identity in the simplest form. I am male appearing in many ways, I live my life in society as male, but my maleness is really only based on my physical appearance and that alone. I like to use quotes around the word male because, yes, I do seem like I fit into the category of male, but there is a lot more to me and my gender identity. I don’t see myself as being born into the wrong body, really; I’ve pursued this journey to reach a point where my physical appearance is comfortable for me. Everything about my identity is pretty queer.
I wouldn’t say that the fluidity is obvious at all in the series “Female to ‘Male’”. The title is meant to make the viewer question how they read people. I am definitely a masculine-presenting person, but that doesn’t mean I am male or identify as male. There is a story behind every person’s identity, whether it is conscious or not. The title is mean to flip the assumption on its head.
3. How did your transition change the way that you expressed your own masculinity?
I am still “transitioning” and will continue to my whole life. I think being more comfortable in my skin, and feeling like my body naturally presents itself in a masculine way now, has allowed me to explore and feel comfortable with the parts of me that are feminine. I am no longer fearful or dysphoric in regards to my femininity.
4. How do you negotiate the experience of performing masculinities and living through your own innate masculinity?
This is something I definitely have an easier time observing and recognizing as a concept or theory than doing so with my own behaviours and performances. Walking this line means constantly being aware of my white cis-male passing privileges and knowing when to use it to my advantage. At the same time, society has written in stone a lot of innate rules that come with being masculine or feminine. Those are hard to steer away from. Ultimately, I don’t think I am ever fully in control of this duality. It is a constant ebb and flow through personal experience.
5. The images in your series, “Of Centre” are meant to depict the spectrum of gender, and showcase those who lie at the masculine end of it. How are you trying to challenge the audience of this series, and what thoughts are you trying to stir up?
I think it’s important for people to see that masculinity can take many different shapes and forms. There isn’t one way to be a masc-identifying person so I wanted to show a glimpse at the range of relationships to masculinity. This series, when installed as an exhibition, offers audio tracks of each individual’s relationship to their identity and masculinity. I think that this is the component that really pulls the audience in and makes them question their own beliefs.
6.Sometimes gender can be a bit limiting, and set us back. How do you maintain a healthy relationship with masculinity for yourself and others, and within your work?
I always need to be in check with how my politics are coming across in my work. My whiteness offers me a lot of opportunities and privilege within the art world. As a masculine-presenting person, I find it even more important to be in tune with my tenderness, care-giving abilities, and ability to step back and let others share their experiences and thoughts/emotions. This is something I have to work on everyday, and I am in no way, shape or form perfect at this. I find my relationship to this body and how I move through society is always changing and challenging me to do and be a better person.
7. As gender shifts and becomes more fluid, how might you see your work changing in the future?
The work I make and will continue to make will be focused on giving voice and a platform to non-normative identities. Yes, gender is changing and becoming more fluid, but I think that it’s impossible for a capitalist, heteronormative society to fully embrace trans and nonbinary people. I think there will always be room for improvement and space to talk about it and make art about it.
8. It seems as though your work often queers gender. How are you achieving this and why is it important to you?
I wouldn’t say that my work queers gender at all. I photograph people whose identities and bodies are important to me and are carving their own space in the world. My work would not exist without the people who participate as subjects. I see my work as a very collaborative exchange.
9. Overall, what do you want people to get out of your work?
I would like observers of my work to either relate and validate their own personal experiences through my work, or have people step back and think about how they might relate to others in their life. Art is a universal language and I ultimately just want my work to start normalizing queer and trans bodies.