Being an inclusive photographer is HELLA important to me. I have friends from all over the trans* spectrum. I was married to a transgender woman, once. So, while I don’t know what it’s like first-hand, I’ve witnessed enough of it. A lot of my relationship with my ex-wife was spent in the Southern USA, not known for its, well… “Southern hospitality” to folks in the queer community. It’s a real eye-opener coming from Canada (where we’ve had marriage equality since 2005) and being told by your wife to not hold her hand or show affection in public because we’d draw unwanted attention.
The fact that trans* people still struggle to gain the basic human respect of being referred to by their preferred pronouns in 2019… well, it’s utterly maddening. During my divorce from my transgender wife, my lawyer referred to her as “He… She…. WHATEVER!!! 🙄”. Regrettably, I said nothing, and silently raged inside, instead. I had no fight left in me, then. After 6 years of being my wife’s #1 advocate and punching bag, I was tired.
Well, I’m not tired anymore.
My journey into non-binary boudoir was born out of the realisation that there’s a distinct lack of visibility for queer or non-femme folk, in intimate portrait work. Scroll and scroll and scroll on any boudoir hashtag on Instagram, and you’ll see what I mean. So, I took a step back and looked at my own business. Was the work I was showing and producing, perpetuating the problem?
So, I immediately got to work. First on the list? Finding a non-binary babe willing to literally bare it all for the internet. So I fired up my trusty model call page and made some changes. Not hours later, the lovely Mx. M’s (Mx is gender neutral!) application graced my inbox. I’d worked with Mx. M before, and I was SO HAPPY for the opportunity to work with them again! I’ve known Mx. M for years, originally having photographed them for a project in photography school. Years later, I photographed their engagement and wedding, too! I guess that would make Mx. M my biggest fan? 😹❤️
Keep scrolling to read more from Mx. M themself, and their reasons for responding to my model call. Then, keep scrolling more to see some of my favourites from their session!
Non-Binary Boudoir Session: From Mx. M
A bit about me: I’m a gender-fluid person (they/them pronouns, please!), and I live with relatively intense clinical depression and quite a bit of dysphoria, and spend a lot of my days hating various parts of myself. I saw Erika looking for models for her portfolio. I had three main thoughts: first, that a friend of mine had done some boudoir modelling for Erika and she was able to capture my friend’s non-conventional but very present beauty, and having worked with Erika before I knew that she does great work, so any photos coming out of this would probably be awesome.
Secondly, I saw an opportunity to take parts of myself I strongly dislike and, through the lens of Erika’s camera, re-frame them in my mind as parts that maybe aren’t so bad after all. I’m speaking, of course, of the meat-suit I’m trapped in, which I spend so much time criticizing that I often forget how much it does for me.
Lastly, and probably most importantly, I read Erika’s list of who she wanted to photograph and saw that since the last model call she had added a category. It’s already groundbreaking that Erika looks for models who aren’t slim, models who have tattoos, new moms, and other such non-standard (for the beauty industry) traits. This time she specifically put down that she was looking for people who identify outside of the gender binary, and I knew that I had to apply.
So much of our world is separated into Men and Women, boy and girl, male and female. As a gender-fluid person, I often feel like I’m in the deep end of the pool and I’ve forgotten how to swim. So, affirming moments like seeing that your favourite photographer is looking to showcase non-binary bodies in her portfolio? That’s not quite remembering how to swim, and it’s definitely not like getting out of the pool entirely. It’s something more like being thrown a couple of pool noodles. It’s a moment of realization that your identity isn’t just valid to the friends and family that care about you. That it’s also valid to people on a professional level. It’s a reminder that even though my body isn’t what I’d like it to be, and isn’t what a lot of people think it should be, it’s still my body and deserves respect.
I felt very nervous, not really because of the idea of being mostly disrobed in front of Erika. I trust her enough that I didn’t really have a problem with that. Really, I was nervous about doing something so very… feminine. How that would feel in my already too feminine body? I thought about what I was going to wear and came up a little short – my body felt like it was designed for lingerie, even after surgery and HRT, so I didn’t have a binder that would fit and actually do anything. Again, would this be too feminine and make me uncomfortable and dysphoric?
Eventually I decided on a button-up flannel shirt and some lingerie, and went into the shoot feeling determined that I would embrace my feminine side and allow myself to feel sexy for once. I spent the session feeling affirmed and uplifted (and a little physically uncomfortable – posing is hard work!), and came out of it with pictures that may not be who I am entirely, but they’re what I look like right now and they’re helping me learn to accept that, even if loving that is a long way away for me.