Walk a Mile in Someone’s Shoes

This is a photograph I had the pleasure of taking of the very beautiful Xena Wilson, a trans woman. I know that many people have never known (or never known that they actually know) a transgender person. I like to share things like this so that people can hopefully understand this situation and that good people can have an more educated viewpoint. My post today is actually something I just saw on Xena’s FaceBook post. So, I am sharing. I think it makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks, Xena.

“Ok so I just got a phone call from New Talk Radio at 98.7 in Knoxville to do a radio interview this Friday at 10.Last night I did an interview for a group of college students the subject “The Bathroom Ordeal”. I have kept pretty quiet about it because I don’t like to put my issues on this platform. I do however have my point of view and I am going to state it now. One major reason is a long time friend of mine made a post two days ago how they were fine with people living their life how they want and to each their own but they didn’t want a transgender woman in the bathroom with their girls. FIRST off I have used the restroom with this person. Second transgender does not just apply to trans women…there are transgender men too. Third we are all just trying to go PEE. If you say it is so your children will not be exposed to perverts and child molesters you are sadly wrong. WE are not out to get your children!!!!!!!!! If a child molester or pervert, who DOES want to get your children, wants to they are going to get to your children inside or outside of a public restroom. There is not one instance where a trans person has been arrested for miss conduct in a restroom. I am SICK of being compared to child molesters. My trans friends and I are not perverts who are out to hurt children. THIS REALLY PISSES ME OFF!!!! I AM NOT A PERVERT OR A CHILD MOLESTER!!!!! If you people think that putting these laws into place are going to stop child molesters you are SADLY mistaken. All you are doing is segregating a group of people, who honestly, would protect your child if they saw something wrong going on. I would beat a MAN that would be going after a child in the women’s room and I know my trans brothers would do the same in the men’s room. I have nieces and nephews that I would die for and I would protect your child too. Putting me in a men’s restroom does not protect you BUT it does hurt us. Please get your head out of the clouds in thinking that these disgraceful laws are going to protect your child. That is a weak excuse to allow bigotry to keep on going. If you want to keep you children away from child molesters and perverts then you might as well put them in a bubble at home because these laws are not going to do it. You are either going to keep being part of the problem or you can be part of the solution. That is something you have to live with. You are either a bigot or you are not. And yes honey, being part of the issue DOES make you bigot. Is that what you want your children to see you as while they are growing up?” Xena Wilson

Dylan. Lipstick, Powder and Paint #9

Another side to the personalities of these two Dylans. A bit of a sullen moment, perhaps?

We shot this one on two separate days. The light in that living room at around 4:30 in the afternoon was so bright, but I kind of like the way the outdoors was almost exposed out. I had to be careful of timing on this picture…it had to happen at the same time of day. I ended up having to brighten the window side of her face a bit, but I think it works pretty well.

Dylan. Lipstick, Powder, and Paint #8

This bathroom scene is one of my favorites. It is such an intimate thing, for two people who are in a relationship with each other to share a bathroom. During those routine moments, when you do what you do everyday…put on your makeup, shave…you are lost in your own thoughts. Yet you are aware that the one you love is right beside you. Fred and did these same things most every morning in this room. I think Dylan captured this moment beautifully. This photo makes me feel nostalgic.

Dylan. Lipstick, Powder and Paint #7

Before we had even finished our first photo session I knew exactly how I wanted to photograph Dylan. I wanted to play up both sides of his gender identity at the same time, in the same photograph, as though they were having a relationship with each other. This was such a fun project to do. I really enjoy playing around with photoshop, so this was a great way to play. I had seen other similar things done with photoshop and I thought Dylan would be perfect for this because he was such a great mixture of both these characters. One of my goals for this project was for Dylan to portray himself as either gender, in a very real and comfortable way. We really didn’t need to make up a name for the female character, because she was Dylan, too.

Of all the photos from this series, this one really makes me smile. I think Dylan completely nailed it with personality here. All these photos were done at the house where Fred and I lived in Nashville. So, I figured out what this couple would be doing in various parts of the house.  The female character was wardrobed from my closet.  Dylan just posed in whatever he had worn over to the house. We would shoot a couple of male characters one day, and the corresponding females on the next. Sometimes there would be a day or two between shoots, because Dylan was involved with school. We would work for about 3 or 4 hours, then go out to eat. Or, sometimes I would have something cooked. Fred would usually join us for dinner. It was such a joyful project.

Dylan. Lipstick, Powder, and Paint #6

I have posted an image of Dylan as Frida before from this same photoshoot. This one was not the original one I decided to use. When I looked again, I think this one is stronger. This is the last picture I took of Dylan. I took it the summer before this past one. Dylan got back from Los Angeles, and I got back from a long stay at the beach. That summer I was getting things ready for us to be gone for 6 months on our big Mexican adventure. I was pretty focused on that, and Dylan had a lot going on, too. One thing was a film that he was working on with his friend Bralyn Stokes, “Silas.” I spent some time with them around the movie, and I even had a walk-on part.Part of it was shot at our house. That was fun. I was cast as a woman in a bookstore, giving Dylan a dirty look because his character was making too much noise. If you get a chance to catch a showing of that movie, check it out.

Dylan and I did get some time  to act on one last idea of mine…to make him up and shoot him like Frida Kahlo. I was all about Frida after spending some time in Oaxaca, and Dylan was game for anything. As always, Dylan used his own hair, I did his makeup and I had a great Mexican dress for him to wear. Frida wore lots of jewelry, and loved flowers in her hair.

After we finished the shoot, which we did one afternoon, we went out to a Mexican restaurant for dinner. No, Dylan didn’t keep the dress on, but he should have. He did wear the makeup. I hadn’t heard from Dylan in a while, but this series of posts has re-connected us. He sent me one of the Marc Jacobs ads that he was recently featured in. Dylan is the gorgeous one on the right. With the legs.

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A State of Mind

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Sometimes it’s just time to shift a gear and move on to the next thing. People who know me seem surprised that Fred and I have sold our business and retired. Not that it’s so unusual for a woman approaching 70 to be ready for a change. It was great to get in touch with what I really wanted to do-design jewelry-and then to somehow manage to do it, and do it with a fair degree of success, for 30 years. It was a wonderful life for Fred and me to both quit our day jobs and do something that seemed so risky and adventurous. And we did have an adventure. We went places we otherwise would not have gone, and met some very interesting people along the way, but when it was time to move on, it was time to move on. Personally, I had reached a point where I wasn’t enjoying my work as much. My motto for the past few decades has been, “Always leave while you’re still having fun.” I wasn’t having much fun and I was completely tired of selling things to people.

I had jokingly said for about the past five years that I liked photographing the jewelry more than any other part of my job. I really only had time to do one portrait a month which was the ad for my jewelry. I needed to spend more time on photography in order to see my photos become art. I wanted to spend more time studying Spanish, and to turn our 3 week vacations in Mexico into much longer stretches of time. I also wanted to have time to cook more and develop wheat-free, vegan recipes. I felt I needed more time every day for physical workouts. As I was approaching 70, I realized more every day how fleeting time really is.

Fortunately, my husband and partner, Fred, is a good planner and he had starting to thing about the economics of our retirement. That is huge, and you are never to young to start thinking about this. We found a great financial advisor, and realized that we actually could retire without living in a cardboard box.

It took a year from the day we knew we were both ready until we actually left. In the midst of that time we sold our business to Mclaine Richardson, a very talented young woman who had worked for us for about three years. She is young, doing an excellent job, and I believe she is having fun in the same way I did so many years ago. I was so happy this happened; for many reasons. Obviously, it’s great to sell your business. It is also a very good feeling to know that your loyal employees will still have jobs, and to see the name of something you have worked hard to develop for a long time be continued.

I’m sure everyone who has ever retired has had their own process to go through. For Fred and me there was some stress to get here, but for now, it’s absolutely the best life I’ve had so far. I don’t really think of myself as “retired,” just as someone who has changed her state of mind.
This blog will be about how this journey unfolds. I will focus a lot on cooking, and try to be helpful to people who want to eat healthier. I will explore issues that relate to gender identity, as this is currently the subject matter I am most interested in photographing. When we travel I will share those destinations. Next trip up is to San Miguel in the mountains in Mexico. The photo for this piece was taken there last summer. I don’t want to define and confine this writing on the front end. Who knows where it will go? Who knows where the journey will take me? I’d love to have you go along for the ride.