This zine is a compilation of genderqueer and trans people in the UMBC and local community showcasing their outfits, their identities, and what fashion means to them. To begin, I set up a poll with time slots for genderqueer and trans identifying people to sign up and model for this project. My original idea was to take photos of the volunteers and ask them only for their gender identities and pronouns. Through discussion with others, I decided to add an additional section where I would ask models, “What does fashion meant to you?”. I recorded each person’s response. This addition was essential and facilitated important conversations with each model.
Originally, I felt that the impact of the final product would be the most powerful. I quickly realized that the fashion shoots themselves turned out to be a wildly meaningful part of the process. Not only were genderqueer and trans folk able to showcase their unique and creative fashion choices, but they were able to feel beautiful along the way. The genderqueer and trans community often faces a variety of insecurities, anxieties, and sadness when deciding how to present themselves each day. Rather than focusing on the difficult aspects of fashion for genderqueer and trans people, these fashion shoots gave each model a positive platform to be themselves whether dramatic, silly, serious, or just plain happy. The photo shoots were able to foster feelings of positive energy as well as moments of affirmation for the genderqueer and trans individuals involved. I was even able to set up a second week of photo shoots to give a wider access to potential genderqueer and trans folk who couldn’t volunteer for the original photo shoot time slots. I want to continue to work on projects in the future where I showcase the beauty of this community.
Once completing each photo shoot, I uploaded the best pictures online and shared it with each individual model so they could have access to their photos. Next, I transcribed the recordings of what fashion meant to each model. I then printed out the most expressive photos of each model and printed the fashion quotes using a common font so it would feel familiar to the readers. I decided I would give each model one page including a few pieces of content: their photos, current names, pronouns, gender identities, and their responses to my question. I gave model Namy two pages because they volunteered for three separate photo shoots!
Using scissors and an x-acto knife I cut everything out, added water color to border the fashion quotes, and collaged each page together with mod podge. I added cute magazine cut outs of plants and other images to add a bit of pizazz on each page. Once they dried I used a marker to add some doodles. I wanted the zine to have a journal feel to it, a little messy with some imperfections (just like all of us!). I wrote out the intro and outro pages, mod podged them and waited for everything to be set. Once reviewing the final pages, I photocopied them to create a digital copy of the zine for two reasons: it could be posted online for free, easy access to the general public and be used as a template to make printed copies of the zine. The Women’s Center was helpful along the entire process. They used their resources and connections on campus to help spread the word about the zine to potential models. Once seeing the final digital copy the Women’s Center staff wanted to print copies of their own to be kept in the Center. They are also advocating to have printed copies of this zine put out for the official opening of the first Multi-Stall All-Gender Restroom at UMBC on May 28th, 2019. Here is more information:
In the future, I would like to organize the photo shoots with an improved method. I received feedback from one of the volunteer models that they were expecting a confirmation email once they signed up for a slot. I hadn’t thought of this, but I will be sure to implicate confirmation emails it in later projects. At first, I wanted this zine to be more informationally rooted from accredited sources online, but then I realized the voices of the genderqueer and trans community already face adversity and these voices are essential to understanding the various ways we exist in this world. I think the quotes on each model’s page provides extremely important and comforting viewpoints. There has been some feedback from genderqueer and trans readers of the zine who said it provided them with positive feelings. My hope is that this will zine will benefit people of all gender identities. I will continue to use the voices of the genderqueer and trans community at the forefront of my projects. Here is a copy of the zine:
As an activist, I want to reassure people that they’re capable of being an activist themselves. I want my work to encourage people and remind them that their voices are essential and have endless value. In relation to grassroots activism, it is evident that a lot of wonderful changes can start with the hard work of a few individuals. I am excited to see where this path of activism takes me and the incredible people I will meet along the way.