We don’t transition for aesthetic purposes. We transition to exist truly exist. Even if we know that in the end, we’ll probably be less attractive. Because a mask, even a beautiful one, will always be a mask. And beauty is only one of the things we have to grieve when we decide to follow this path.
Society will generally say that a transition was successful and therefore legitimate if the final result is visually convincing. With little to no thought for what the person involved thinks. And without realizing that genetics play an important role in this story. And that good genetics are not handed out based on merit.
My body is non-conformist. All my scars, my cracks, my bumps reveal my story to others. And since my story is beautiful, how could I not forgive it?”
My name is Jody Rose Helfand, and I am someone who changed my female body to match my male soul.
I am also a professor, an author, and a professional keynote speaker. I’ve been perceived in this world first as female, with a female socialization, and second as male, with no socialization.
I learned how to move in the world as a male, while being careful not to abandon the “female” self, because within my male soul and outer male expression, there is a desire for polarity– the balance of feminine and masculine.
I am someone who had to destroy myself before finding myself. I worked within the confines of the sinister — constructed labels and categories that can limit the Soul’s true expression. I deconstructed and reconstructed, while speaking my truth and listening to my heart. When I did this, intense relief and a deep sense of inner peace followed.
As I enter my 52nd year, I have to look back on my life so far as a non-conformist. From childhood years where I was simply labeled a “tomboy” for refusing to entertain girls’ toys or clothing; through school years when I was something of a loner and a misfit with transient friends; on to a life as a music journalist after leaving school; then finding my niche as a bodybuilding writer in my early 20s… definitely a life spent defying expectations.
I never really examined my “body image”; I always considered myself male… though when I encountered puberty, I did turn to anorexia to thwart my body’s attempt to develop more female attributes.
Luckily, I discovered the healthier way in bodybuilding when I was around 18 (having started working out when I was 15). Funny thing is, when I was asked this for an interview with the bodybuilding media a couple of years ago, my venture into bodybuilding was never to create a more masculine appearance. In my head, I was just creating the body that made my relationship with the mirror more comfortable.
I officially transitioned three years ago, though I have been viewed by most as male since I was a baby, even the minister at my christening made the “error” of using the male version of my given name Karen, calling me Kieran, and having to be corrected by my mother.
At the end of last year I had chest surgery, something I thought would never happen in my lifetime, but the same friend who supported and encouraged my transition also paved the way for this to happen. I owe a great debt of thanks to her and she will always have my heart. So consider me to be simply a man with a vagina… and someone who, following my transition, is finally comfortable in his own skin.
I’ve always seen myself as a tomato. A tomato because it’s an in-between: it’s not exactly a fruit, not exactly a vegetable. Far from me to say that I’m a vegetable, but rather the best of both worlds. For a long time, I saw my difference as a burden that I would carry all my life, until the day I understood that I was in possession of a special power. The power to transform what I thought was my biggest weakness, into my biggest strength.
I live in a world that is harsh and unaccepting to the lifestyle and religion I find myself in. Many people hate and despise what they do not understand. Lack of knowledge is the root of all the major issues in our world today: that and pure ignorance. I don’t like drama nor will I stand for it. I classify myself as a grown man. I can clearly say I feel 100% more comfortable as a man within my skin. I’ve always felt trapped in this body of mine and have been screaming to let the real me out. Now that I can finally take my own life into my own hands, I am doing what makes me happy, regardless of the complications and circumstances that may come.
The tattoo means strong, because I have to be. I started my transition at 30 years of age. Five and a half years of weekly injections, two surgeries, and I now finally feel comfortable in my body. I can’t imagine it was ever any other way.
Bouchard’s classical approach in these works highlights the normality of each portrait. Bouchard has spent more than three years researching this reality and meeting members of this community. His subjects traveled from all over the world to his studio located in Montreal. Photo shoots were also held in New York City and Los Angeles. By spending time with people at different stages of their transition, Bouchard discovered the vast complexity of the processes and transformations that female-to-males have had to undergo in their quest for physical and psychological self-alignment.
But as the photographer puts it: One thing is very simple and straightforward; I could have been roommates with any of these guys and never for a moment thought to question that they were anything other than men. trust me, it never crosses your mind to say ‘she’ instead of ‘he’. Very quickly, you see just a person; one with dreams, aspirations, and challenges many of us share.
Garde-moi encore une nuit
Si tu as l’envie,
coute-moi une autre nuit
Console-moi et berce-moi encore une fois Est ce que tu voudras ? Est ce que tu vou…
– She Night, Indochine
I have always been hypersensitive. For a long time, I thought my hypersensitivity would be a major obstacle in looking like the man I wanted to become. Because in my mind, feelings and creativity were synonymous with femininity. Who would take me seriously, as a man?
Today, I’m proud to be * queer. I no longer see my feminine qualities as obstacles. With body changes, with experience, my soft side, I’ve simply reinforced my identity. I’m now working in my field, graphic design, as an illustrator. My hypersensitivity and my imagination don’t make me a woman, but an artist. In other words, the man I wanted to be.
Transition has changed my life in so many great ways.
Physically, I’ve never been better, more connected with my own self and body, although there is still work to do. But transition has affected me even more profoundly. It allowed me to discover and understand that I have full control over my life. And that is something we all have. It also taught me that questioning myself is a good thing, even a really GREAT thing.
And that applies to all aspects of my life.
I no longer hesitate to dig deeper into my own feelings and desires. I no longer fear what I’ll discover in doing so, because I understand it will only bring me closer to my very true self.
As for you, the viewer, I can’t recommend enough that you question yourself.
Transition is something everybody goes through regarding different aspects of their lives. Transition within the workplace, transition within relationships, transition within our own selves as we age and more. Moving from one place to another is very fulfilling. You don’t have to doubt yourself, just question it.
Question even the things which you feel are solid, be it gender identity, attraction to other people, interests you have, the things that make you who you are, etc. What you’ll find out about yourself and the reasons behind it all will make you even more grounded, even more into yourself, more aware, more interested in putting things into perspective and looking at them from all sorts of angles, more open to others, more accepting of others. And in the end, more human.
Don’t be afraid to become who you are.
For as long as I can remember, I’ve never really felt like I belonged. It was as if I’d been cast in a play as soon as I was born. I felt like my entire life was nothing more than a set-up. They had given me a costume, an identity that wasn’t mine. A costume in which I’d been suffocating for too many years.
Then, after 19 years, I finally found an identity that was made for me. In fact, people often tell me I was courageous for doing what I did… but for me, being trans doesn’t take courage, it takes will. Will to be happy and well. Will to express yourself, discover, laugh, love, and respect yourself.
After 23 years, I can finally say I’m well. Like everyone else, I’m the main actor in my life. A life full of passion, intrigue, and joy. A life filled with surprises, happiness, wonderful people, and inspiring moments. Every day is an enriching experience, and I’m slowly realizing that what once seemed so negative has now become the biggest positive in my life.