Welcome to Visible Bodies

Production on Visible Bodies: Minneapolis and Visible Bodies: Portland will begin soon, and we need your help! Check out our fundraising page to donate.

Visible Bodies: Transgender Narratives Retold is a grassroots transgender community photo project whose goal is to empower trans people and educate cisgender people. Learn more about Visible Bodies from the Advocate.

Every week, we’ll feature one of our participants’ narrated portraits. This week, check out Ali and her story.

“Like so many transgender people, I knew from a very early age that there was something very wrong with me. I began to realize that I being born a girl would have suited me better. Growing up in the early sixties, well before the dawn of the Internet and the information age, there were few, if any, options for a young boy who believed he was not supposed to be born that way. So I made the best of it. I joined the Boy Scouts, played baseball, dated girls, got married, and had kids because that was what males were supposed to do. But I felt disenfranchised with myself and I continued to battle conflicts between orientation and identity. I sought psychological counseling and took anti-depressants for thirty-five years.

I looked in the mirror every day and wondered who that person staring back at me really was until a very dear friend asked me to do something special for her on her birthday. She saw in me what I was looking for — she purchased a dress, bra, panties, a pair of boots, and a wig. Much to my surprise, she asked me to put them on. She didn’t allow me to look at myself in the mirror until she finished putting on my make-up. I was extremely uncomfortable and felt awkward until she allowed me to turn around and face myself. For the first time in my life, I recognized the person in the reflection. I liked what I saw and suddenly realized that I could never be who I was before ever again. I was a woman, and from that day forward, I knew who I truly was. I began the slow and painful process of accepting the challenges and heartbreak that can accompany transition, but doing so has made me feel complete. I am happy.”

Ali Renee, age 58

Assigned Sex: male

Gender Identity: transwoman

Pronouns: she/her/hers