To put these wonderful souls up as brides before a wedding. All decked up in ornaments and beautiful sarees. To put them up on a pedestal and celebrate their beauty. To help them, at least in some small way, live out their desires. The idea was to tell us that, in the end, Transgenders were no different from us. Doing so, however, was not all too easy.
The models themselves, who had peppered Rejoy with questions like “Anna, will I look like a bride?” And “Anna, will I look beautiful?” were suddenly awestruck at how beautiful they were. To be portrayed in such a positive, beautiful light was new but thoroughly refreshing for them! This shoot represented not only how beautiful they were but to also communicate a beauty within them they hoped others would see.
Way before this project had even materialized, Rejoy was always sensitive to the Transgender voice. Their lives, their struggles, their ambitions and so on. Two aspects of their experience that spoke to him in particular was one, their striving for recognition and two, companionship. That as a community they have essentially been disregarded as capable individuals and more importantly, as people. People with the same dreams and ambitions as the rest of us. People who want to be recognized for their feats, for their abilities and perhaps most importantly, for their humanity.
Companionship, the idea that we are, after all, not alone. That as normal a life ‘regular’ people seem to lead, is just the kind of living they yearn for. To care for another, to be cared for by another; Rejoy had begun to notice a pattern of this need for companionship and what better signifies the epitome of this idea than marriage!
Even his crew had initially found it uncomfortable to work with the transgender models but eventually began enjoying their company. One example Rejoy pointed out was his make up artist who found himself quite uncomfortable around transgenders. Duty bound, however, he quite reluctantly began his work. A few minutes later, out walked the make up artist, a beaming smile across his face with the transgender model’s hand in his saying, “Look, look at my bride!”. Almost like a bride being walked down the aisle at her wedding. This was the impact they’d had on people in just a few minutes of actually connecting with them.
This photoshoot was not just a statement but an aspiration. A hope that they be recognized for their identity, not stigmatized for it. That they be appreciated as people with beliefs, ambitions and insecurities, just like the rest of us. That the walls of ignorance we put between us can be brought down by simply taking the first step to getting to know them better. Transgenders are beautiful, transgenders are people too… Just like the rest of us.
I had no intention of doing Engineering or Medicine, the norm for a person from a middle class South Indian family. I just had one ambition, to study Psychology at PSG Arts & Science College, Coimbatore. In my 2nd year at college, the course VISCOM was introduced in the college. Interacting with Viscom students, I realized that my calling was to ENTERTAIN people. I joined Radio Mirchi as an RJ. In no time, I became very popular. Seven years later I felt the urge to do something different and decided to explore my passion for photography.