This book serves as a platform for navigating the intensely intimate and often disorienting grief that belongs to my gender transition. I’ve been putting effort into exploring and affirming my gender identity since engaging with it in therapy in the last year. In this work, I’ve been grieving for my past self and all its complexities, and for that future that will look markedly different now. That is, now that I’m committing to myself the space to express myself in a way that aligns much more congruently with the truth I’ve largely kept to myself until now – that I am a woman.
I set out with this book to spend time with my transition-related grief with the mindfulness practice that is most intuitive to me, that being my photography. For the subject matter, I decided to photograph sunsets as the way I could practice saying goodbye to the day I had just experienced. The exercise of saying goodbye continued into the image capturing as well because I had to part with the pictures I felt as though I “missed” in the short span of a sunset by not being in the “right place”, not using the “right composition”, or any number of other self-imposed judgements. What practicing these more manageable interactions with grief did for me, was to bring me up above the throwing waters of doubt and gender dysphoria to a state of relative clarity where I could re-center and be better prepared to grapple with more notable moments pertaining to my transition such as exploring fertility preservation options, feeling out what fits as far as gender expression is concerned, and more recently going on both testosterone blockers and feminizing hormones.
My hope in putting these images together as a book is that the reader might be able to recognize the characteristics of a setting sun that I also find in my gender transition: the self-assured moments of intense compassion, the somber beauty of having many places to go but no single, clear path forward, the loneliness that comes with going through an experience that is outside what my support knows, the warmth of feeling reborn into an identity that is truer, and the many struggles and success in-between that are inherent to this journey.