Seven Letters to my Transgender Lovers
~ by Minerva Magdalene
Minerva Magdalene is female, because that is what she says she is. Since there are far too many who donʼt understand or respect that, she is also transgender. She identiﬁes as a dyke, because she is a woman who is not for men. She hasnʼt yet found a better word to describe her sexuality than “queer”. She is polyamorous and an amateur domme. She is working on an undergraduate degree in Feminist Studies. This is the third, and last, year that she will be considered a senior.
" Seven Letters to my Transgender Lovers" is a somewhat self-explanatory series of non-ﬁction pieces. She wrote it because trans-for-trans queer love is a subject that we could all stand to hear more about. Details have been obfuscated where appropriate to protect the anonymity of the recipients.
Jana Marcus - Transfigurations - Winter 2014
In 2003, I started photographing and interviewing transgender people on their notions of masculinity and femininity as they changed genders. By 2006, after photographing nearly 150 trans men and women and distilling down their stories, Transfigurations— the touring exhibit —was born. This startling and groundbreaking photographic series on the transgender
community has now toured across the country—from galleries in New York City to universities such as Stanford—to rave reviews and curatorial acclaim.
The photographs illustrate how gender is both real and illusory, natural and constructed. The subjects, a cross section of all ages and ethnic backgrounds, share their thoughts, in their
own words, on transitioning from one sex to the other. By documenting the transformation from one sex/gender to another, the photos explore the importance of the body to gender identity as well as the effects of transformative practices on the body, creating a reality beyond ordinary experience.
My initial investigation into the world of transgender men and their ideas of masculinity resulted in Transfigurations: The Making of a Man, which was my MFA thesis at San Jose State
University in 2005. After graduating I continued shooting new work, this time turning my lens on transgender women and their notions of femininity. The new work, along with a selection of the earlier work, became Transfigurations,and premiered in 2006 at the Santa Cruz Institute for Contemporary Art - The Attic.
I am greatly honored that the trans community has embraced this work and together we have seen the power of photography bring positive change to minds and hearts, giving their
community a voice where they may not have had one before, to the general public. Today, the transgender community is emerging into its own place in history, as a new movement, expanding the language of gender and sex. People had been asking me for years to bring the work into book format. Unfortunately I was unable to find an agent to represent the book to publishers, due to the subject matter. Without an agent it has been impossible to solicit to publishers. Those publishers I was able to speak with loved the work but ultimately declined because photo books are very expensive to publish and they didn't feel the transgender theme was one they could bank on. Thanks to Kickstarter.com and over 100 generous supporters, we raised enough funding to publish the book, and it official came out in September, 2011.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this important work possible. Artists can’t complete their visions without public support! —Jana
About Jana Marcus:
Jana has been creating award-winning documentary photography for over 20 years. She is a professional photographer in the California Bay Area focusing on the documentary. editorial
and performing arts genres. Her work has been exhibited across the United States and extensively published in newspapers and magazines. Jana received the UC Berkeley Center for
Photography’s International Photojournalism Award for her series After Midnight Youth Subcultures of New York City and she was named one of 50 Exceptional International Photographers by Exposure of New York in 2010. Her latest book Transfigurations received the
Best GLBT Non-Fiction Book of 2012 by the Independent Publishers Book Awards. Her photographyhas also won many prestigious awards including the Best Photo of the Year in both
2004 and 2005 by Photo District News of New York. Jana received her MFA from San Jose State University, a BA in Community Studies from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and studied photography at The School Of Visual Arts in New York City. Jana’s first book, In The Shadow of the Vampire: Reflections From The World Of Anne Rice, was published by Thunder’s Mouth Press of New York. She frequently lectures on the subject of documentary photography.