Entry Title: "Who We Are"
Name: Michelle Kunz , United States
Category and Expertise: Portrait|Deeper Perspective, Non-Professional
Entry Description: A series of portraits of transgender men and women in various stages of their transitions
Story: I am not transgender. I have no idea what it feels like to be stuck in a body that’s not mine—to look at my hands, my neck, my chest and see parts that don’t fit. I don’t know how it feels to be harassed because others don’t know how to categorize me—to walk down the street and have garbage thrown at my back; a blow that hurts my heart more than anything else. To be physically assaulted… just ‘because’.
I don’t know how it feels to decide that a complete physical transformation is the only way I can continue living—that decades of needles and surgery and hormones would be less painful than inhabiting this stranger’s body.
I can’t know how it feels to watch that body morph into what I’ve always known it should be. To feel as if I’ve truly earned the skin I’m standing in. To know my voice finally sounds to other people the way it has always sounded to me.
I don’t know the peace that comes after years of intense self-evaluation. Or the strength and pride that comes after questioning everything about myself, and everything about the world, before realizing that who I am matters and that I deserve to be here. That I am free and I am whole.
I haven’t found a community that accepts me just as I am, with love and without question. A group of people that knows my struggles and my triumphs because those struggles are theirs, too. People from such diverse backgrounds and experiences who are, in so many ways, exactly the same as me. People who are, in so many ways, exactly the same as you.