The Stories of "You Brought Your Own Light."

Manchester central Library Gallery 27th July - 29th September 2018. Open daily. Currently exhibiting at Salford University.

Stories of transformation fascinate me, especially when they are women's stories. I love to photograph teenagers, trans women, women surviving illness or escaping violent marriages. It is not just the physical changes that draw me but how sometimes our internal, emotional lives change too. To take a persons image is political and is, in part, self portrait. I am representing women, exploring their narratives and interweaving them with my own. When I construct a story of femininity I inhabit it. When people walk around this exhibition they will weave their stories too and project onto the prints their own readings. This series of portraits is ongoing and focuses upon women born with the wrong biological form. To become their authentic selves they begin a journey of transformation, they are a different stages and no narrative is linear or simple. 

I shot them in a home studio in natural light and only directed them by saying, "Show me how you feel- use your body and your eyes." Once the work was completed it came to the attention of Joanne Mason the chairperson of Sparkle, The National Transgender Charity. They are exhibited on behalf of Sparkle, with tonnes of help from the trustee Lee Clatworthy and curated by Aj Wilkinson.

Allie Crewe   

"A terrific body of work filled with heart and empathy." Lensculture

"Highly rated. Sincere, poignant and classical work." 

Magnum Photography

My Story


The only real choice in transitioning is between living as your true self or not living at all.....Up until i came out, I was in a bad place in my life. I was struggling with anxiety and depression linked to that and coming out felt like a huge weight had been lifted from me. It felt like the turning point, when things started to get better. Finally having an understanding of myself, a sense of belonging helped me feel better about my life. Thank you for helping me see myself in a new light
Abi

Growing up shrouded, often in overwhelming sadness, because of something you have no sense of control over or the vocab, the terminology to express the dark feelings of dispair. To break that bondage to become the woman I have always known I am is utter relief and freedom that so few can relate to. I'm one of the lucky ones!
Claire

Living in the deepest darkest depths within myself and keeping my secret hidden was all I could do most days of my adolescent and adult life. That became all consuming and soul destroying. I truly believed that I'd never find a way to escape from the prison cage of which I, and society, had created for myself. It wasn't until I stepped out of the darkness of the continual perpetuating circle of deceit, self-loathing self-hatred of my true inner self myself and deception to others and into the light of enlightenment and freedom that I finally found comfort and joy from being able to fully appreciate and celebrate the real me freely and openly.
Jude

"There is nothing linear about femininity - or what it means to be a woman - in the 21st century. Sex and gender are not limited to the monolithic paradigm of genetics; they are informed by something intangible, and it this essence of the female paradox that makes Allie's work as relevant as it is important and sets her apart form others in her field."

The liberation of being true to myself is like getting my head above water after my lungs have been burning and screaming for air. The positive ramifications, upon my mental health and confidence in creativity as an artist, are beyond measure.
Joni

Since coming out in December of 2016, my life has taken a turn. I've fallen into unhealthy relationships, sexual dysfunction and drugs. My career and financial stability are on a knife edge; I've already lost my beautiful home, pets and split with my supportive, long-term partner.But I persevere. With the help of my friends, my family and my trans sisters I'm rebuilding my life. Learning to live and love again. Coming out was the worst decision I ever made, but finally being myself will always be my best.

 Holly

​I attempted suicide before I transitioned, mainly due to my Dad not being able to accept me. Coming out of the darkness and into the light it helped to save my life, i was then enabled to be my true self and no longer hide from my true form, I was also able to turn my negatives into positives so I could help others through their Journeys too.
Ariana

It's a little difficult for me to talk about difficulties of coming out, as for what I'm aware of, I don't feel i ever did come out. Not because I couldn't but simply because I never needed to. On this front I am blessed with the most amazing mum, who's always known these things before I would do, and at some stage even made me aware of them as I was so innocent and protected. Coming out as non binary more recently was not so much about coming out, my family just love me for who I am, without judgement or prejudice, but more about explaining. How do you explain non binary identity in a world that is so rooted into binary models? I'm a French and Spanish native speaker, so no English with my parents, except... There is no gender neutral in any shape in either of these languages. Everything from people to things, from a sibling to a fork or a car, has a binary gender, male or female... Everything. So I think the hardest was done already: explaining it... To myself.This being said, while people who do come out say that they felt a tremendous feeling of light and liberation, a weight being taken off their shoulders, I must say that this is exactly what coming out to myself felt. Isn't self acceptance and self understanding the most important after all?

Majojo

My biggest issue is the life I don’t want to leave behind. My family love me and I love them back,  I don’t want to be without them.  But, they are finding it difficult to accept me since I told them I’m Trans, so we all pretend. They are fearful for me, fearful of what might happen to me, how I might be treated, and I suppose how it may affect them, also.This is human and to be expected, but it is not ideal. I would love them to be able to accept who I feel I really am and be there for me like they always have.I am living my life as best I can as a balancing act, though not everyone can understand, I felt that this was for the best.Things may be about to change and there is always the future, so I remain hopeful that it will all work out and everyone will be as happy as possible in the end,Me, my family and maybe even you.

Kyrsten

Coming out felt like a big deal at the time. I’d pushed so much stuff down because I didn’t feel like I could deal with it and I didn’t want to admit to myself that this was a part of who I was. Eventually, stress in other areas of my life built and built and I couldn’t keep how I felt in check; repressing feelings about my course, my exams, my social life and what I would later come to recognise as my dysphoria all at once was just too much. I messaged a friend from high school. I panicked a lot, this had been something I’d kept a secret and avoided for so long, and then it was out in the open. But she was immediately okay with it. That was huge. I told my house-mates, a couple more friends, my GP, eventually my parents. Then the waiting started. Waiting for healthcare. Waiting for documents to be updated. Waiting for my new passport. Waiting for hormones to start working, then waiting while they continue working. Waiting for the right time to tell friends, extended family, the university. The storm clouds had been gathering for a long time, and I hadn’t really recognised that until they got really dark. Life goes on whatever the weather. Sometimes the rain fades into the background; sometimes a storm demands centre stage. The forecast is looking a lot better now, though.


Grace

Undead, that’s what I was. Not alive, merely existing from one period of dissociation to the next. Unable to express myself, robbed of the vocabulary I needed. A shroud of normalcy wound about me, to protect the world from my so-called deviance, and myself from the world. Obviously, I spent a great deal of time contemplating a more decisive form of suicide and weighing the consequences. One day, I chose to live, consequences be damned.I cast away so many aspects of myself, falsely deeming them ‘masculine’, trying to dance within the double standards imposed upon all trans folks. Turns out I needn’t have bothered, but I’m still glad I did. Over the years of transition, these aspects have returned to me. Each one with an improved understanding of myself and a renewed drive to enjoy my various hobbies, to do things my own way, and to not put up with society’s delusional expectations of what gender and sexuality should be.I am the sum of my dreams and experiences, I live a life of no regrets, I am the Navigator. Hopefully, my siblings can learn from our lessons and find themselves faster, and with less anguish, than I did.

Ashley

Some Findings

  • Two in five trans people (42 per cent) who would like to undergo medical intervention as part of their transition, haven’t done so yet, because they fear the consequences it might have on their family life.
  • Almost half (48 per cent) of trans people don’t feel comfortable using public toilets through fear of discrimination or harassment.
  • A third of trans people (34 per cent) have been discriminated against because of their gender identity when visiting a café, restaurant, bar or nightclub in the last year.
  • More than a quarter (28 per cent) of trans people in a relationship in the last year have faced domestic abuse from a partner.
  • More than two in five trans people (44 per cent) avoid certain streets because they don’t feel safe there as an LGBT person.
  • One in four (25 per cent) were discriminated against when looking for a house or flat to rent or buy in the last year. One in five non-binary people (20 per cent) have experienced discrimination while looking for a new home.
  • When accessing general healthcare services in the last year, two in five trans people (41 per cent) said healthcare staff lacked understanding of trans health needs.
  • More than a third of trans students (36 per cent) in higher education have experienced negative comments or behaviour from staff in the last year.
  • 84% of Trans people have suicide ideation and 48% have attempted suicide. 

     Source: Stonewall Trans Report 2017.

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