Photo Book with Forward and Photographs by Elizabeth Anne Taylor
I love transgender women. I’m fascinated by their combination of male and female traits and by the lengths they go to live as they wish. I have worked with hundreds of trans-women, applying their makeup, helping them dress, and taking their photographs. While each person is unique, themes have emerged: strained relationships with loved ones, secret storage units and mailing addresses for their femme side, dressing only while on travel, getting ready in their cars, and, above all else, secrecy. Meanwhile, many have formed vibrant friendships and are actively involved in the trans-community. The majority of my friends are transgender women. I want to tell the story of these beautiful and courageous women.
After retiring in 2012, Erica Fremont began to explore her female side at male-to-female transformation studios nationwide. Since her first shy days at my studio in summer 2013, she has become an outgoing, fun-loving woman who organizes events to Freddie’s Beach Bar – a venue that mirrors Erica’s personality. She enjoys the pampering of a professional makeover but does her own makeup most of the time. She is transitioning to live as Erica full-time.
Alisha Edward is thrilled to be alive! And she will let you know that at the top of her lungs at least once a night and usually more often. After surviving prostate cancer, she had her first makeover in spring 2015 and quickly became involved in our social group. Since her wife has generally tried to avoid Alisha’s girl side, Alisha gets ready in her “changing wagon,” a cargo van fitted out for her male-to-female transformation. She has come out as a transgender woman to a few people and is trying to determine the way forward.
Jizzelle la Creme loves to flirt with excess. She’s partial to custom corsets that give her natural cleavage, six-inch tall heels, and gorgeous makeup. She enjoys both her male and female sides, but her ex-wife could not tolerate her dressing, which led to their divorce. Jizzelle has found a partner who not only tolerates her dressing but loves it – namely me. When I met her in summer 2013, Jizzelle would only go out after dark; by summer 2015, Jizzelle and I routinely took day trips together.
Tracy Lynn loves clothes, makeup, and shopping. Since her wife cannot tolerate her dressing, the true Tracy only comes out while she is on business travel. If you can call it “business” travel: she brings four suitcases full of girl clothes and a small duffel bag of guy stuff. She starts each trip to Washington with a French pedicure, a manicure with no polish, and a body and eyebrow waxing session. Outgoing and approachable, Tracy makes friends everywhere she goes. Tracy travels to DC monthly, and we always have a good time. She has a four-year plan to transition.
Kimberly Moore and I met in summer 2013, and we instantly hit it off. I asked her to model for my website, which she loved. She has taken her modeling to the next level with Model Mayhem and has appeared on mainstream websites. Her wife doesn’t approve of her girl side, so Kimberly often uses her minivan to change. Kimberly is seeing a gender therapist and trying to determine the way forward.
Jamie Lee Henry has overcome enormous obstacles to live authentically as a woman. As an active-duty Army officer and medical doctor, she faced homelessness and imminent discharge due to being transgender. Meanwhile, her wife divorced her and they fought an ugly custody battle in court over their young son. Unexpectedly, Jamie kept her Army commission and her fortunes changed. Jamie has legally, medically, and socially transitioned to living full-time as a female though she has to follow the Army’s male grooming standards. When she and Anna met at work, they quickly fell in love and got married six months later despite Anna’s job relocation keeping them apart. Jamie’s parents reluctantly acknowledge her female identity.
I love these women – they are very much my people. We accept and love each other for who we are. These photographs are my attempt to capture their beauty and strength as they strive to be who they want to be.