Current Project: Gender Exploration During Lockdown

The pandemic has provided individuals with the unique opportunity to sit with themselves and really look inward. I was curious how this time spent focusing on oneself would affect the LGTBQ+ community and I sought to learn more about how the pandemic was impacting gender exploration. 

I found a beautiful story of two people who were both transitioning but experiencing very different realities. This photo story takes a look at what gender transitioning looks like with the added element of the pandemic and how social distancing impacts gender expression. 

Questions that have guided my reporting:

  • How does social distancing affect a persons ability to socially transition?

  • What role does a support system play in transitioning? What is it like when one lacks support in their transition? 

  • What happens when a pandemic prevents trans folk from gathering with their support systems? 

  • How does the pandemic's influence on the medical field affect the ability to medically transition? 

  • What are the positive outcomes to transitioning during lockdown, if any?

As a transgender woman, Amy LeBlanc used her time in quarantine getting to know herself better. She read books about the trans experience, met with doctors to help in her medical transition and awaited the day when she could receive gender confirming surgery. 

She struggled without her trans support groups and greatly lacked the social support that she desired. She felt like the pandemic put her back in the closet and stunted her ability to fully express herself as a woman. Her surgery was postponed multiple times due to the pandemic, leaving Amy deeply depressed and feeling alone. 

On a parallel track, Jenner Ackerman—who identifies as trans non-binary and uses they/them pronouns—used quarantine to embrace living authentically. Jenner came out as non-binary and sought out top surgery.  

In contrast to Amy, Jenner has support from many sources; their ex-wife, current love interest, co-workers and family. While both transitioning, stark differences are apparent in their social lives that are exacerbated by the pandemic.

My project will continue to follow both Amy and Jenner as they both undergo surgery and continue to explore their gender identity. 

Planning to have this passion project wrapped up by August 2021.