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The Elegance of Gender Identity and Expression

Gender expression and identity are major struggles within our society today among people of all ages, backgrounds, ethnicities, and cultures. Many trangender individuals struggle their entire lives to find and live with authenticity.

Addie Rosenthal is one of those trans individuals. As a child she used to “borrow” (steal?) her sister’s clothes and makeup, as she tried to affirm herself as the woman she wished she could grow up to be one day. From a very young age she has struggled with her own gender identity, but was often way too scared to confide in others, for fear of being laughed at, mocked, and/or – worst of all – rejected. Which is what she often had to deal with.

After much deliberation, time, and research Addie made an informed decision to begin hormone replacement therapy (cross-sex-hormonal treatements) on June 10, 2020 at the age of twenty-one. Eleven months later in her transition journey Addie was photographed by Amalya Shandelman, a rising Houston photographer .

After coming out Addie was initially met with acceptance, but acceptance doesn’t always mean understanding. The heavy burden that comes along with the transition process for trans women is excruciating to bear, both physically and mentally. Most people want to be there for the final result without sticking around for the journey. Addie has often felt dehumanized by her “woke” peers, who behaved as if her own identity was just a costume or a political ideology, rather than an integral part of who she really is as a person. Addie is not just a trans woman, but an artist, a game designer, and a devoted adherent and practitioner of Judaism. With that said, Addie feels that the few people who did stick around for her transition into womanhood are the people she most wants to have in her life.

This photoshoot is meant to present a trans woman at the beginning of her lifelong journey toward womanhood. It highlights not only her feminine features, however, but her insecurities as well. It’s a moment in time when the model knows that she does not resemble a man anymore, but at the same time neither does she yet appear to completely resemble a woman. This photoshoot shows the beauty of who Addie aspires to be, but it also highlights the obstacles she is facing as she advances toward her destination. The photos are vulnerable, uncomfortable, and – most important – very, very real.

Dress: Houston antique shop
Dress: Houston antique shop
Dress: Houston antique shop

Photographer: Amalya Shandelman

Model: Addie Rosenthal

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