20 Photos Tell The Story Of One College Student's Transition

Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
This story was originally published on January 26, 2017, and we're bringing it to your attention again in honor of Transgender Day Of Visibility.
Alexander Lane Miller never felt comfortable in his own body. Born Lexus Chanté Miller, the 22-year-old grew up knowing he was a man, but never dared to say so out loud, since he grew up in a Southern Baptist family. Miller came out as trans in the spring of 2016, not long after he met photographer Betina Nathalie Garcia. In her photo series He, She, It, Garcia captures the subsequent months of Miller's life and transition.
Advertisement
When he was much younger, Miller believed that, since he was biologically female, he must be a lesbian: "I was trapped in a woman's body, and I guess that’s why I kind of identified as a lesbian, because legally I'm a female, and if you date girls, then you're a lesbian," he told Garcia in an interview. "But I never really liked saying that I was a lesbian."
After leaving home for Western Kentucky University, Miller got up the courage to tell his mother he was a lesbian. She gave him her love, but told him she couldn't accept that part of his identity. "It made me feel like I was selfish," Miller said. "I was destined to end up not only in hell, but also without the support of my family."
Soon after, Miller's family stopped supporting him financially and he lost contact with his mother. "I’m not the perfect daughter she always thought I was," he said.
Despite his personal struggles during college, Miller found comfort in his role as the university mascot, Big Red. The character's gender neutrality didn't pressure him to adopt a male or female identity, while its persona reminded Miller to look on the bright side: "When you're so caught up in school, life, and adult stuff, it's great to portray this character that has no responsibilities other than to...be the life of the party."
Miller called mascotting the "perfect outlet" for him, especially at that point in his life, when he needed time for self-exploration. "Most people assumed that Big Red was a boy, but it’s gender neutral," he told Garcia. "However, no one could tell the difference between myself and the cisgender guys that were also Big Red, so I started to take it as a compliment when people would call me 'he' while I was in the suit." In fact, he said that mascotting eventually helped him come out to his friends.
Advertisement
Garcia plans to continue to photograph Miller into 2017, while Miller plans to schedule his top surgery this year and come out to his mother as trans. "I know this will risk losing her entirely, but I’d rather her know the real me," Miller said. "I’ll be on testosterone for the rest of my life, because it makes me happy and whole."
Click through to see Garcia's photos of Miller, along with her captions.
1 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Archival photos of Lexis Chanté Miller."
2 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"The Big Red team went to Daytona Beach, Florida to attend the Mascot Nationals on Wednesday, April 6, 2016. When they got some time off, the group headed to the beach. 'People always look at me weird at the beach. I just want to be a guy,' Alex said. The worst thing about being in this transition is being in between."
3 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex is about to give himself a shot of testosterone for the first time. His family doesn't support him, which is why he can't afford to keep going to the doctor to get his shot. He has seen multiple YouTube videos to learn how to shoot himself. A bottle is $89 and will last for five months, while the doctor is $50 every time."
Advertisement
4 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex graduates. He gets to wear the gloves of Big Red, so people can see that he was portraying the mascot."
5 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex gets ready to perform at Play Nightclub for a drag show where he'll play Alex Ryder on April 28 in Nashville."
6 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"On the day of Alex's graduation ceremony, Courtney and Alex left for Tennessee to celebrate with Courtney's family. The morning after they moved to Arlington, Texas, to start a new life. It was very hard for Courtney to say goodbye to her mom, who has always been very accepting of and kind to Alex."
7 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"During the Mascot Nationals, Alex wasn't allowed to stay in the room with the other guys on the team due to his sex, but hung with them all the time anyways. Here, he and Austin are getting ready to get some lunch.

"When Alex looks at himself in the mirror, he thinks, 'I'm on my way to finding my happiness. I see the small changes and I know this is who I'm supposed to be. I just prefer my body to be covered up until I'm fully transitioned.'"
8 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex and Courtney enjoy their day in the mall in Texas, after they moved there. Courtney wanted to go into Victoria's Secret. Alex is constantly nervous about being misgendered, which is why he hates being in public."
Advertisement
9 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex feels he has to work out and get bigger so he can protect himself and Courtney should something happen."
10 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex works one or two times a month selling raffle tickets at the Dallas Cowboys Stadium while the team is playing. It pays $15 an hour. He has a degree in broadcasting, but while studying at WKU, he spent all his time being Big Red, so he doesn't have any experience.

"He would love to be the mascot with the Dallas Cowboys, but that's very difficult. 'Right now, it's important to get a job that pays the bills so we can get settled and don't have to worry about the financial situation,' Alex said."
11 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex's hair is continuing to grow now that he has been on testosterone for 10 months."
12 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex is in Walgreens to get syringes for his weekly testosterone shot. He stopped to look at some magazines."
13 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex dances backstage with the other mascots after they performed at the Mascot Nationals."
Advertisement
14 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex performs at Play Nightclub. He has performed as a Drag King for about a year. This was how he got into dressing more manly.
15 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"The third time Alex takes his testosterone shot he starts feeling really bad and ends up having an anxiety attack. Here he seeks comfort from Courtney. 'Sometimes, it just gets really hard, and I wish I could just wake up in three or four years time and be over with my transition,' he said."
16 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex performed so he could earn some money to afford their move to Texas. He kisses Courtney at the end of the stage."
17 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"This portrait of Alex was taken on November 19, 2016. 'My body has changed quite a bit since I started testosterone. My breast are getting smaller, my arms are getting bigger. You can still see my waist, but it's getting better,' he said."
18 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Big Red on campus."
19 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex and Courtney go to Kroger on their weekly shopping trip. Courtney is testing new shower gel and lets Alex smell."
20 of 20
Photographed by Betina Nathalie Garcia.
"Alex works out and hangs out at home."
Advertisement