In early 2012, a friend and I were talking about the genderqueer movement: what it was, what it meant, and how one defined themselves as a part of it. I wanted to explore it further. I never felt like my gender identity fell neatly into one group or another, so I immediately identified on a personal, and deep, level with this topic.
But what ultimately prompted me to author — in the photographic sense — Outside & In Between Monograph, was Sasha Fleischman being burned on a city bus ride through Oakland, CA in the fall of 2013, likely for wearing a skirt. I had photographed Fleischman, who identifies as agender, previously for San Francisco Magazine, which became a spread on the genderqueer community. Each person I shot was striking and inspiring in how much they were themselves, not only in how they dressed, but in how they interfaced with and understood the world around them. Most had felt pressure their entire lives to fall more neatly into a binary and it had been a source of torment, so to see them so clearly as their real selves was very moving and liberating.
After Fleischman's assault, I noticed that more people were willing to talk about their feelings and experiences with gender, its nuances, and how we treat people who don’t fit into society’s accepted norms. They were also willing to be be photographed, and the result is my book, which extends far beyond the SF Mag piece.
What initially drew me to this movement was the freedom involved: you could be yourself in whatever way made sense to you. You could explore traditional archetypes on one day, and on another, disregard them completely. Your sense of self, sexuality, and gender identity was able to evolve beyond a polarity, to a place of coexisting harmoniously.
Many of the people I photographed for this series have felt tortured or out of place their entire lives, unwilling or unable to live a lie. Society has been unrelenting in making them feel their normal is not acceptable. The older generation lived their real lives in secret, dressing as themselves only in the privacy of their own homes, never in public. The younger generations have had much more freedom in this regard; but of course, there’s long way to go.
Pronouns are an important part of identity and vary greatly within the community: from “they” to “ze” to “it” and many more iterations. Non-binary, genderfluid, genderqueer, androgynous, agender — there are many different ways folks identify themselves and each has its own meaning.
Gender and self-identification are complex. This movement allows all of us more space to explore ourselves. I never wanted to fall into the archetypes of traditional femininity, nor did I want to be entirely male. It’s exciting to be able to present and explore oneself in whatever way makes sense to you, be that wearing dresses or men’s suits — or something more internal like feeling free to express yourself and your body in a way that feels genuine and comfortable.
This series was shot in a meaningful place for each individual, most often in their homes to give readers and viewers r a true sense of who they are and how they live. It’s an exploration of what this movement looks like and what it means for each person involved. Many of them have written a brief statement on the idea of home, and their own journeys in regards to gender, which you can find on the following pages.