As an intern for Mamalode, I am frequently meeting unique people and families. As a student, I have recently become involved in women's and gender issues. I was thrilled to be able to blend these two areas with this piece.
I met Garet Walker when we were in high school, and for a while we were good friends. After high school, I left Helena to go to college, and we lost touch. A few months ago, however, Garet announced on her Facebook that she was going to officially begin her hormone therapy (the first step towards the physical part of her transition). I was so excited, and so proud of her. I contacted her shortly after to ask if I could meet with her and see how her transition was going. I thought that Garet’s story needed to be told, and as a photographer, what I really wanted was to take pictures that could capture what it was like in the average day of a transgender woman. There were ups and downs, and there was definitely a lot I had to learn.
My hope is that this piece shows you the side of transitioning you rarely see. Today’s media typically focuses on the medical side of gender transitioning, and rarely peels back that top layer to show the real, amazing person underneath the hormone therapy and surgeries. I didn’t want to reduce this incredible journey to a barrage of medical terms, but rather capture what it is like to finally feel like you—as a woman for the first time.
Garet’s family has transitioned with her as well. Although her mother disowned her when she began her transitioning process, her father’s family has supported her and her journey. They struggle at times to understand, but their love has been unconditional. They have not lost a son; they have gained a daughter.
I think that the discrimination and violence experienced by the trans community is caused largely by a lack of understanding. I hope that after watching this, you come away with a little bit more understanding; if Garet and I have broadened even one mind with this video that will be enough for me.
Through all of the hardships and obstacles, Garet has an amazing sense of who she is; self-assurance that I hope everyone can have one day. Her self-love and acceptance have inspired me and I hope it inspires you too.