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COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A central Ohio photographer is collaborating with Stonewall Columbus for a photo gallery challenging stigmas and stereotypes in the transgender community.
Vincent-Natasha Gay is the creator of “This is Trans,” an upcoming gallery at Stonewall Columbus that showcases diverse identities within the trans community. Gay is a nonbinary person and the owner of Mx. Gay Photography.
When they came out, Gay was confronted by stigma in the trans community: The belief a transgender person is only valid if they transition “fully” through hormone replacement therapy and gender-affirming surgeries. However, Gay knew they did not want to transition in that way.
“I just look at my existence as one that I live fluidly, in between gender lines,” Gay said. “I just present myself as I am.”
Gay found they are not alone. Many in the trans community, especially nonbinary individuals, are bullied into thinking they must complete surgeries and receive hormones to be a “valid” trans person, they said.
To fight these notions, Gay has been photographing local transgender individuals and showcasing the umbrella of identities in the trans community. The result is “This is Trans,” a series of more than 70 portraits displayed at Stonewall Columbus starting next month and running through the end of the year.
“Participants in this project have been photographed as they are, showing the world that they are completely valid in their unique and diverse transgender identity and presentation,” Gay said.
The portraits feature a written quote on what being transgender means to the participant and only their pronouns, to protect their identities.
Accompanying the photos is a 30-minute documentary featuring interviews with gallery participants, produced by Gay and videographer Alex Rogers. The documentary is an open conversation on what it means to be transgender and how community members navigate coming out in various settings.
Gay said they hope viewers of the gallery and the documentary leave Stonewall with a new understanding of trans identity and a feeling of empowerment to live as their true selves.
“My goal is, when someone comes to look at this gallery, they feel empowered in their trans identity because they see people like them,” said Gay. “They see someone who is just authentically living as themselves and not having to conform to anyone else’s notions of what being trans is.”
“This is Trans” unveils at Stonewall Columbus at 1160 N. High St. from noon to 6 p.m. on Nov. 19, coinciding with Transgender Day of Remembrance. The opening will feature a wellness fair with organizations from across the city, a silent art auction and guest speakers.