The best photos that were ever taken of me pre-transition are from days where I almost died. There’s a resignation in my eyes in those photos — a kind of surrender that poked through every cheeky smile and goofy pose I could muster. I can see it and so can others, now that they know to look. A fair amount of those photos exist — but that’s nothing compared to the amount that exist of me from the last eight months, since I started transitioning.
The photos I take today are nothing like those old ones. The old ones were clinical, clean, and composed. They were photos of someone who wanted to leave something that would look good on a mantel in memoriam. Now I take photos to say that I’m alive. I love the person I see in these photos and I can see that she loves life and looks forward to it. As I swipe through the photo library on my iPhone I can’t help but notice her glance is inquisitively focused on the right side of my screen in so many of them, as though she’s asking me swipe over so she can see what happens next.
And there is so much next to see. Every day this body looks different than the day before. Everything is a new milestone. This will be my first holiday season as Evey Winters. This year I will take photographs with people I love during the holidays and I will do that as Evey Winters. There are so many small activities I do — like buying boots — that I realize “wow, this is the first time I get to do this as me.” And I want to capture all of this life in as many photos as I can and I want to be in them because for the first time in my life I can see me in those photos — and so can everyone else. The person in those photos has love and curiosity in her eyes — she’s alive and wants to be.
And that’s not just my story.
The trans narrative is often reduced to our suffering and fear. Every single day I wake up and check my phone biting my cheek worrying about what piece of my humanity might be on the table for debate today — and that’s how it is for every trans person I know. This November brings us another Transgender Day of Remembrance, a moment to take stock and appreciate the gravity of our existence and the violent rhetoric and atrocities that we face. I don’t want to diminish or overlook our suffering with anything I say here, I just believe we have more to our stories.
I have the absolute joy to be friends with amazing parents to trans children who have an entire life of opportunity ahead of them. Every single trans person I know is filled with creativity, aspiration, and vibrance. Several are musicians. Some do social work. Some want to map the stars, some want to travel to them. Many create beautiful works of art. They dress up for fun and they go to parties. They go skiing. They watch scary movies. I haven’t met a single trans person yet who didn’t want to leave a mark, even a small one, on the world around them.
Being trans is more than just survival — it’s revival. So my hope for us as we enter this time of remembrance and community, is that together we will resolve to make more beautiful moments and with them more photos. I hope that those photos don’t just show us surviving or existing. I hope they show our joys and loves, our wants and our goals, our successes and our stumbles, and the tiny moments and glimmers in our eyes where it’s plain to any person who looks at those photos of us — we’re not just alive, we’re living.