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Beyond the Binary System

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Far too often, this world is reduced to binary options. Boy/Girl. Man/Woman. Old/Young. Black/White. Rich/Poor. Fat/Thin. Big/Small. It’s so basic.

There are infinite shades of grey, no Christian or Anastasia intended. Life has all kinds of different dynamics that operate beyond the simple static separations of such one-dimensional realities. And it’s not to say that there are not times where these realities are relevant, yes of course there is.

But there’s so much more to the world than just these sides of the coin, and to not see more than it is to limit your entire experience of life.

It’s not like my parents taught me, because what the hell did they know or what the hell were they taught about transgender truth in the 1970s or 1980s? These people and these ideas were hidden from society for the most part, or spoken about disrespectfully or as a cautionary example, not as a friend or neighbor, political ally or artistic collaborator. But these days, wow are things ever different than they were back in the day!

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I don’t have any kids, but one day when I do, I’ll be saying “I remember when nobody would talk about fighting for transgender rights in a public forum… and there wasn’t even any public forums for them to speak up in… and there wasn’t any internet forums either, because the damn internet didn’t even freakin’ exist. And people used classified ads in newspapers and magazines, word of mouth, and networks of families and friends to find the entrances to the private world of non-heterosexual sexualities…”

There’s a third dimension to human identity that transgender truth opens my mind to, that is enlightening to know. Growing up, it’s all about “boy or girl, gun or doll, soft or hard, nice or mean?” Things are so binary, basic and brutally boring. Why can’t there be a third or fourth identity to explore? And the truth is: there IS. There always is and always has been, and it’s always been here for people to identify with and learn from, whether society has been willing to give trans people space and time to exist or not.

I spent an afternoon with a wonderful trans man, taking photographs and sharing wisdom. I felt an interesting life connection, simply because they weren’t a man nor a woman, but my sexual energy was necessary to complete the photo shoot. When I shoot with a man or a woman, it’s different, whether I try to neutralize it or not. Too many factors and variables are involved, and erotic art is too sensitive for me at this point. 

Shooting with a trans photographer was absolutely delightful and educational, and allowed my identity to explore places that were new for me. It was a joy. I look forward to you seeing the stunning photos we took… especially the ones of me wearing white fishnet stockings and a red feather boa, ha ha!

In courage and love,
Addi Stewart

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