Miami-born, Bushwick-based photographer and artist Adam Ross (they/them) met Alex, an Ivorian born Trans model, actress, writer and activist at one of the rallies held on the Christopher Street pier; Adam reached out to her about collaborating on a shoot. “She responded with a beautiful idea,” says Adam, who also goes by Gaystrychef, their IG moniker, ”she wanted to embody the idea of Trans Women blossoming into their true selves.” Adam says that Alex also had the idea of including Jael, a Brooklyn-born Trans Person, into the shoot.
Adam continues: “The three of us met at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and spent a beautiful afternoon shooting in and around the flowers. We talked about how as queers, the idea of community is so vital to us all, and how we need to always stand up for each other when facing hatred and oppression. The experience of Trans Black women specifically is one that people need to witness and share, which that day it was my honor to do; I’m incredibly proud of the work that Alex, Jael, and I created together, and of how much of themselves they put into it.”
In Our Own Words
Alex and Jael’s portraits by Adam give us a glimpse into the beautiful moments that may come with rebirth, like the evolution of self, love of yourself and the love for others. In Alex and Joel’s own words:
“The life expectancy of Trans Women of color is only 35 years old. There is an urge to improve this statistic drastically. As a marginalized group of people, Trans Women of color especially are taught self-hatred from a very young age. We are indoctrinated into the belief that transgenderism is unnatural and ungodly.
These seeds are planted in the heart of an innocent child whose life experiences are set to be limited and deprived of joy and happiness with thyself.
Hate and intolerance coming from the external world will only exacerbate one’s negative life experiences. Such negative feelings and deeds are rooted in ignorance, obsolete religious beliefs, and a lack of compassion and kindness in this perfectly imperfect world.
Trans people are history.
We’ve existed since the dawn of times through different cultures and throughout the world. From the Fa’afafine (boys raised as girls) in Samoa, to the Two-Spirit people (male-bodied with a female gender or female-bodied with a male gender) in Native American culture.
We are not going anywhere. Black Trans People are expected to Dislike themselves, their history, and their legacy. Not today, Not tomorrow, Not Next Year… WE ARE HERE! And we’ve always been.
This photoshoot at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden was inspired from the concept of Trans Women blossoming into their True, authentic selves. The journey of a Trans Woman is at first internal. She has to come to terms with who she is at the core. Internally, She has to align the truth of her heart with her testosterone-induced brain. The Trans Woman experiences anxieties at different levels varying from one individual to the other. These are mainly focused but not only limited to the matter of misgendering, on a daily basis by folks that aren’t fully aware of her inner gender identity. Medical transition comes into place to alleviate such anxieties and relieve the Trans Woman of a weight She no longer needs to carry: The man She knew She wasn’t.
Once She blossoms into her True self, the Trans Woman is ready to fully live her life like the woman She was always meant to be.“
is an Ivorian-born Trans model, actress, writer and activist. She’s a firm believer that Trans women need to not merely survive, but to thrive, just like other women. Her creative work includes producing and celebrating Queer Arts as a Whole. She’s also invested in HIV/AIDS advocacy and writing. Her writing has the ultimate goal of educating non-LGBTQ+ people and allies on LGBTQ+ issues and challenges needing to be addressed for change. Her writing also has healing purposes pertaining to her personal journey toward self-discovery, self-acceptance, and self-love. She uses her own life experience and lessons learned along the way as a canvas to inspire, empower, and ignite courage in others to live their authentic lives with fierce passion, joy, and happiness.
a Brooklyn-born Trans Person, drowned in traditions of Conditioning that no longer serves her or US in the “The New Earth,” has chosen to live OUT LOUD. She is in essence and aroma, Divine Feminine Energy. She understands the significance of Black History as well as Trans/Two-Spirited/LGBTQ+ culture. Her drive and inspiration is her Mother and all the female figures who represent women’s empowerment. She’s on a journey of discovery and mastery of her TRANS LIFE.