Photo shoot allows for humanization of transgender community, allies

Elle Boatman said she wholeheartedly believes the old statement that a picture is worth a thousand words.

That is why she and her organization, The Face of Trans*, are hosting a photo shoot from 2 to 4 p.m. today in RSC 233, as part of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion’s events for Transgender Awareness Week.

Boatman, a transgender woman, started the Face of Trans* in April 2013.

She said the Office of Diversity and Inclusion contacted her when the group was looking into events for Transgender Awareness week.

“They reached out to me to kind of help with things that I thought were timely and useful for the trans community,” Boatman said.

“We talked about what types of things would be good for trans week, what we thought would be helpful, what we thought would draw an audience.”

That’s when Boatman said she suggested doing a photo shoot. She said the photo shoots have been popular in the past.

Boatman said the photo shoots are a great way to get away from the word “transgender.”

“Most people hear that word and they think, ‘Oh, I know everything I need to know. Everybody’s the same after that,’” Boatman said.

“The pictures are really a good way of showing that not only trans people, but allies of trans people, are more than just their LGBT identification.

“It’s really a good way of putting a face to this idea.”

Boatman said people can look at statistics about transphobia all day long, but that doesn’t humanize the issue. She said the photo shoots allow the trans community to be humanized.

“It really kind of helps to humanize it pretty effectively, especially in the local community,” she said.

She said the photo shoots are also a great way for allies to show their support for the trans community.

“We need allies,” Boatman said. “Without allies, we’re not going anywhere. Allies are critical.”

After the photo shoot, Boatman said, the photos will be posted online on the Face of Trans* Facebook page. She said the posts are some of the most popular on the page.

There is no cost for the photo shoot.

Each person wanting their photo taken are asked to fill out a short questionnaire before the photo shoot, which Boatman uses to post the information online.

Boatman said each portrait takes about five minutes to do, which includes shooting a few pictures and each subject picking out their favorite image.

The Face of Trans* encourages portraits other than just ones of individual people, Boatman said.

“It started out as just single portrait-type shots, but over the past year, the whole couples or significant others, or even groups you’re associated with, those types of shots have become really popular,” Boatman said. “So, we encourage not just single people, but groups and offices and whoever else to come and have their pictures taken.”

For more information about other events scheduled this week for Transgender Awareness Week, call the Office of Diversity and Inclusion at 978-3034.