Click here To see to other Creative People and their art

Debbie Humphries - Photographer

'Gender Crossings' - First time cross-dressers

'Gender Crossings' - Female twins now brother and sister

'Gender Crossings' - Femaole fire-fighters (standing) with male


"Wnat to take on holiday"

'Vicky 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".

I visited her home to find out more....

Debbie showed me the latest project that she is doing to maintain her creative edge? ... she explained :-

I 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 of myself.

Above 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.

It 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 a woman?”

For 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 Watershed Bristol

“Very clever, great photography - If only there was such a empathy and understanding throughout society”

“I'm 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 :-

“A 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:-

“But 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!”


Gender Crossings

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.

These 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.

I 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.


You may have seen pictures from Debbie’s ‘Gender Crossings’ project, in publications including:-

The Observer,
The Independent, J-17,
The BBC publications,
Bella, Diva,
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 Kingsgate,
The Flaxman,
The Watershed Bristol.

She won awards for her work at
The National Portrait Gallery,
Royal Photographic Gallery
and The South Bank Photo Show.


'Gender Crossings' - Heterosexual couple expecting their child

'Gender Crossing' - Transsexual with her mother and son