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Sm{art}: Translady Fanzine

Translady Fanzine is a fine art photographic periodical, that in its first issue, features high-gloss portraits of video and performance artist Zackary Drucker. Amos Mac, editor and founder of the trans male quarterly Original Plumbing, is both photographer and publisher. Photographs are taken from the collaborative series "Distance is Where the Heart Is/Home is Where You Hang Your Heart" documenting a visual memoir of Drucker's early life in locations shot in and around her family's home in Upstate New York. Drucker writes in TF: "How can we have fans if we don't exist? How do we know we exist without visual affirmation?"     

translady fanzine-banister           

In December 2010, the artists spent a weekend snowed-in, staying up late drinking coffee and black tea, composing photographs that would later appear in the 9 x 13" pages of Translady Fanzine, ranging in tone and content from, PHOTO: near a snow covered graveyard, Drucker stands off to the side like a stray mourner to, PHOTO: Drucker in her underwear with hands and knees on a doily on top of her parents dining room table. A trained photographer herself, Drucker uses her own image as the centre of her work, often collaborating with other artists, such as Manuel Vason,  as in the photograph below entitled, "Don't Look at Me Like That" on display in Los Angeles earlier this month.

Zackary Drucker-Don't Look at Me Like That

While shopping in an adult store in the West Village, Mac stumbled upon the 1990s magazine Transsexual Illusion, inspiring the creation of Translady Fanzine after the photo series was complete. In Transsexual Illusion, images are taken by and of trans women, and even though Mac IDs as a trans man, he felt a kinship with the work. At first, Translady Fanzine appears to be Mac's trans female counterpoint to the trans male quarterly Original Plumbing. Yet, OP is "a community-based magazine that is designed to feature and create visibility for trans guys by trans guys." Why, I wonder, is Translady Fanzine claiming within its self-explanatory title to be about trans women, but unlike OP and TI, does not use a trans woman photographer and/or publisher?

translady fanzine-amos and zackary

A photograph of Zackary Drucker and Amos Mac from Mac's Tumblr not shown in Translady Fanzine.

Drucker, in a letter to Mac (published in TF) provides a few possible answers: "Trans women have yet to redefine themselves as a vital unified community, and our visibility is in dire need of reinvention." In a review of TF by Michelle Tea for Huffington Post, Tea explains that Translady Fanzine is not attempting to represent the range of trans female culture, but rather showcase the words and image of one woman of trans experience per issue (Drucker's writing takes up 2 out of 23 pages). Simply put: it is a fanzine not for and made by trans women, but for and made in collaboration with trans women and their fans. Drucker writes:

We need more fans because we live with barriers intact, because we are evolving faster than our culture can perceive, because shame is a scavenger bitch eating us from the inside out, because we are beautiful survivors and we deserve it.

zackary-by-amos-mac-translady-fanzine

What is perhaps radical about Translady Fanzine is not altogether obvious when observed from a queer/feminist cultural viewpoint. The production quality and traditional beauty of Drucker could land many of the photos in a mainstream high-fashion magazine...and what isn't radical about that? They are images of one contemporary trans woman that allow her and the viewer to transcend the common narrative associated with her trans experience.  

For more information on Translady Fanzine and to order a limited-edition copy, visit: http://www.transladyfanzine.com

Previously: Coco Riot, Eve Arnold

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Comments

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ummm...

Ok. Can we think about this for a sec:

If this was a cis dude taking these kinds of pictures of cis women, in these types of hypersexual poses, wouldn't we be a little more critical of (1) the motives of the photographer/founder of the Mag, and (2) how these types of publications/photos propagate the belief that women are nothing more than sex objects? Especially considering that it is quite literally a male eye who is seeing/capturing these images? Just cause its a trans woman bent over doesn't make it RADICAL, that's just the status quo.

Now, I'm not saying that there is something inherently wrong with sexualized images of trans and cis women (As a sex worker--that'd be a little hypocritical of me, now wouldn't). But you know, lets not be dense and think there isn't a difference between Sexy Teen Lezbos #4 and On Our Backs. If this was a trans woman run mag, by trans women for trans women, and not "for and made in collaboration with trans women and their fans" it'd be a different story.

Also, who exactly are our "fans?" Those who sexualize our bodies? YAY! just the kinda fans I was hoping for, because I don't get enough of those when I'm working as it is. Geezus.

Moreover, while Drucker might claim that the trans woman community isn't "unified", I think that this has a little more to do with two things:

First, the lack of effort of the part of the queer/feminist community in general to seek out the plethora of wonderfully amazing trans woman artists, performers, activists, etc etc. I think we've become so accustom to having everything handed to us that when we don't see trans woman on the cover of glossy magazines we assume they are all sitting in their rooms reading manga--which of course is what I do between being an activist and performer.

Second, can we just finally, just for a second, acknowledge that maybe another reason the trans woman community isn't "unified" is because we are constantly, constantly, constantly jogging up hill with the queer/feminist community. The tides of second wave are sill high, yo! Michfest still doesn't allow trans woman onto the land, and name ONE--I Dare you--trans woman singer who is as popular as whats-his-face from the Cliks. We're not a community because those with the louder voices only let us have the bits and scraps that they allow us--like a 20 dollar magazine that lines the pockets of some trans dude and not our community.

You know, maybe everyone thinks were not a unified community because nothing more than a whisper gets heard over all the trans dudes and cis women silencing us.

Finally--I swear--I just wanna say that, I'm tired of the trans woman perspective and body ONLY being acceptable when its told by and photographed by trans dudes or cis women.

I got a voice. I can use it. I don't need you to be my megaphone. Trust me. I'm loud enough as it is.

The revolution will not be in a photo glossy jerk-mag.
The revolution will happen when we stop paying 20 dollars for our own objectification.

Trust and Solidarity,
Curiouser Jane
(aka Dalice Malice)

I would disagree that there

I would disagree that there is NO unified community. I definitely feel like I am part of SOMETHING of a unified community. Nothing on the level of most other queer communities, to be sure. But aside from that, I absolutely agree with you - if you were to remove the "trans" prefix from this article, you'd have an article about guys taking naked sexy pictures of women and publishing them for ridiculous sums of money that they very likely are keeping the lion's share of.

That doesn't really sound all that "radical" to me.

"We" are unified.

"We", Transwomen like myself, are unified. It is hard to see that since many of us are being held back in some ways by our own "community". One of the biggest issues I have is actually not dealing with Transwomen, but transmen. I have a few transmen friends who have pretty much been ostricized and excommunicated by both straight and lesbian women who were there friends before they decided to "come out" again. All trans people seem to deal with this, although I must give kudo's to all my gay male friends. I volunteer at a place that houses a large number of recory type meetings, some 12-step, some other formats. I have been welcomed and loved by all of my friends there, I feel very accepted there. I see a large gap in the "T" area of "LGTBQ". I will end with this: I am very offended and outraged to here someone from our "community" berating and/or belittling a transperson because they think it is wrong, isn't that what all of the gays, lesbians, and friends and allies spent all those years marching and petitioning to help you get your rights? Now you wanna sit on some high horse and cast judgement on others for persuing their happiness? You have some real nerve! I also agree that magazines like this one are more damaging than helpful. They set another standard which 99% of us are not able to live up to...yet. You wanna make a helpful magazine for transpeople? Go out and find those of us who are struggling to get by and be who we are on little or no money. Show those struggles and how "we" manage to overcome all these walls and barriers constantly being set in front of us. That would be helpful and inspiring. Just a thought from a broke ass transwoman trying to survive another day.

...

I agree that a magazine that shows the Real experiences of trans women, especially those who--as you said--are "struggling to get by and be who we are on little or no money" would be amazingly powerful; however, maybe we as a community should demand from those people like AMOS MAC (who has the means and the clout) to show those stories/experiences, instead of bending us over like every porn mag on the shelf.