Meg Hensley, a St. Louis-based freelance editorial and advertising retoucher, recently started a project called Stepping Forward in which she's been photographing local transgender people and their loved ones in order to help the general public understand their stories a bit more.
I'm photographing transgender people and their parents, partners, and children. Each participant was asked to write a caption about their life to be displayed with their portrait. This project celebrates a diverse community, shares real stories that aren't told often enough, and makes a positive change in the visual representation of transgender people and their loved ones. I think the public doesn't see enough honest, gentle images of this group of people.
People seem to have an idea of what trans* must look like, or an idea of the kind of life trans* people must lead. This project shows that this community, even in a town as small as St. Louis, is rich and diverse, sometimes out and proud and sometimes not out at all. Transgender people and the ones who love them can be the people next door, your nurse at the hospital, your digital tech on a photo shoot.
The participants in this project are stepping forward to be seen and heard.
They've all got important and unique things to say about love, family, hardship, and acceptance.
It Was Time
For a long time I was a lesbian. I lost my job because of going on disability, and lost my girlfriend. Because of all this, I decided it was time to transition. There was nothing to hold me back now. I could be the man I was meant to be.
Church is everything to me. I was the first trans person at Epiphany UCC, and I was welcomed. They even added a section about trans welcoming because of me.
I Love Willa
My family is very similar to other families. We fight, we laugh, we cry, and we spend time together like any other normal family does. Willa is my second mother. She is my father who wants to be a girl. Willa is a great person. She's kind, she's helpful, and she's a wonderful mother. She is a great person to be around and it hurts my feelings when people talk bad about the LGBT community because I know a few people who belong there. My life is wonderful and I love Willa very much and one day I hope the world will accept the people in the LGBT community and there will be equality all over the world.