Crossings' - First time cross-dressers
Crossings' - Female twins now brother and sister
Crossings' - Femaole fire-fighters (standing)
to take on holiday"
Lee and dog'
Vicky Lee talks about Debbie:
"I love her pictures - but until now I have never
asked her why she has spent 4yrs collecting pictures on
the transgender theme".
visited her home to find out more....
Debbie showed me the latest
project that she is doing to maintain her creative edge?
... she explained :-
wanted to do this partly as an antidote to the self imposed
allegation of voyeurism in my 'Gender Crossings' project.
I have turned the camera on myself. Using a very different
style. I am creating a picture diary of my life. As with
any diary it records the ups AND downs - the loves, the
smiles and the tears that are part of any life. Of course
I hope that one day my projects will be published but
just doing them has helped bring balance and better understanding
of life to me - not only of others around me but also
from “Debbie’s Diary”
I learnt camera technique
at night classes and trained as a photo assistant at a
posh portrait studio in Kensington. I also developed my
own style as photographer in residence at a secondary
school as well as teaching photography to people with
disabilities and running a community darkroom.
was while I was working as a freelance photographer for
magazines like 'Bella' that I first met transvestites
and transsexuals. At this time I would be given a picture
assignment to match with a story and the pictures had
to match the house style of the magazine leaving me little
opportunity for my own style influence. It was the boredom
of these shoots and the opportunity to photograph these
unique people that led me to a project through which I
could reaffirm my sole style.
I must admit that at first
I was visually stimulated for the "worst reason" but after
a few meetings with transsexuals at home with partners
and family over tea my mind began to explore how I projected
myself through my clothes. I attended a drag king workshop.
You might ask did I “pass” I would have to say, “I don't
know”. However I can tell you that women smile much more
than men. I studied literature and reference material
from history and culture on the subject, (later I formally
went on to post graduate gender studies). I found that
from as early as Aristotle (BC) women were viewed as inferior
and were restricted to the point that throughout history
women would pretend to be men to gain opportunities to
learn and achieve. This legacy has imbedded into society
the question “Why would a man want to be thought of as
my project, initially I advertised for transgendered people
to call me. I soon found a network of contacts and followed
up lead after lead over a period of four years taking
hundreds of photographs that I have edited down to an
exhibition of 50 pictures that I call.
The above was written by Vicky
Lee after interviewing Debbie Humphry
The effect of Debbie's
project can be felt through just a few of the comments
from the comment book after her solo exhibition at the
clever, great photography - If only there was such a empathy
and understanding throughout society”
in Love …” “I liked it when they gave us the biscuits…”
“I find it hard to believe some of these transformations
... are you sure?”
However this next comment
highlights the depth of feeling and confusion that Debbie's
pictures manage to stir :-
wonderful way to enlighten the public about societies
"narrow mindedness" (if that's a word), I hope that through
this and other campaigns, you gain rights - human rights
.. do keep it up” …
But then after signing
off this visitor then went on to write more:-
why do people want to do this? Isn't it some sort of insult
to god? Did he do it wrong? OOP's The other part of me
just spoke out! I guess if people can have two genders
- I can have two opinions!”
Through this exhibition
I am looking at what gender means, ways in which we are
defined by it and how we move from the polarities of masculine
and feminine to cross the boundaries. The pictures are
of individuals who move towards what is conventionally
accepted as the Opposite Gender in dress, at work, at
home, sexually and surgically. I am looking at gender-crossing
as a whole, from the extreme to the acceptable, at a time
in Western culture when people are fighting their way
Out of the Closet. Beyond fashionable media representations
is a complex story told by diverse voices.
are ordinary people moving through the world and are shown
in relation to their environment and their friends, colleagues,
partners, families and the public. They are people making
a world for themselves creating, settling and changing.
I want to challenge prejudice by providing familiar contexts
and increasing information I hope for empathy not voyeurism.
This questioning of gender
identity has implications for all men and women. We are
swamped by images presenting a stereotypical 'norm' for
gender behaviour, which is restrictive for everyone. The
juxtaposition of text and photographs in Gender Crossings
intends to raise and answer common questions, upturn popular
prejudices, place current Western notions of gender in
a broader context and highlight gender as a social construct,
rooted in sexism.
am photographing people who have the courage to be who
they want to be. I hope some of that positive energy is
transmitted in the photographs.
may have seen pictures from Debbie’s ‘Gender Crossings’
project, in publications including:-
The Independent, J-17,
The BBC publications,
The New Statesman,
Health and Fitness
and of course The Tranny Guide.
She has had exhibitions at galleries including
The London Transgender Film Festival,
The Chisenhale Dance Space,
The Watershed Bristol.
won awards for her work at
The National Portrait Gallery,
Royal Photographic Gallery
and The South Bank Photo Show.