Fine-Artist and Editorial Portrait Photographer Sarah Skinner @ Takako Photography is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this portrait photography. These images are from her project ‘Drew’s Story‘. To see Sarah’s body of work click on any image.
Written by Drew Faithful
Drew Faithful, February 2, 2014
My body is a machine; it is a vessel, carrying me through this battle called life. I’m fighting to survive. I survived the cool blade coursing my skin searching for relief through self-mutilation. It was a relief from the self-hatred and pain of not knowing who I was. I am transgender; a hatred so deep that suicide would have been a solution. I chose to survive.
I survived the verbal assaults of discrimination from society and by my parents, the ones who gave life to this vessel. I survived the rapes; his and then her body on top of mine, taking what was not theirs. The domestic violence, her hands around my neck, whispering, “You’re lucky I’m not taking your last breath”.
I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in which my body is in constant battle to not reject itself; a slow war against each organ in which the perpetrator is my own health and yet, I survived.
I am neither female nor male – I am both – I am an evolved being.
One who can walk this world with knowledge of both genders and has learned to view this as a gift. Finally the daily battle with the mirror, with the person looking back, fighting for self-acceptance is coming to an end.
I will not be my first obstacle when I wake up and look in the mirror. I have chosen to fight, to choose to survive, even if it’s with a faltered vessel. I’m not a “rape victim”, a “domestic violence victim”, I’m not a “victim of my health”, a “cutter”, “transgender”, “gay”, a “male or female”.
There is only one label for me. I’m me, a survivor. I am hope.
Drew Faithful, March 2, 2017
This is Trans Life
I don’t know if anyone has ever told you this but being transgender is hard. It’s not all sunshine and roses, filled with transition photos and achievements. It’s staying up in the middle of the night replaying all of your thoughts and fears. It’s deciding which bathroom to use while in public. It’s out yourself to medical providers, lovers, new friends, and coworkers and often… everyone you meet. It’s answering questions about genitalia, “how and when I knew” that I’m trans. It’s losing your loved ones, being viewed as a sin, a freak and circus show.
"It's looking at your parents in their eyes and seeing their disappointment"
I’m not your fetish, your experiment, your experience, and your willingness to try it out. It’s looking at your parents in their eyes and seeing their disappointment. It’s the acceptance by your friends, who, meaning well, thinks your transition is cool so they tell everyone about it. It’s the confusion dating women, when they get concerned they will be lesbian for dating a trans man. It’s dealing with the pit in your stomach when you have to show ID, and your appearance and name don’t match the documents. It’s the painful surgeries and the financial blow of affording the medical care needed to transition, to feel comfortable in your own skin. It’s about being stuck in the middle between your birth sex and your authentic gender. It’s going through puberty all over again but this time in lighting speed, with no guidance but your own personal experience. It’s the rushing to the mirror in the morning hoping to see your outer reflection match the person you know to be on the inside and being disappointed that the process is slow.
"It's building a support network through social media to replace the lack of acceptance from those you love"
It’s not even so much about others acceptance as it is the struggle to love yourself when the world tells you otherwise. It’s building a support network through social media to replace the lack of acceptance from those you love. So next time someone objectifies a trans person, thinks it’s a fad, just remember this person has fought long and hard, against obstacles you know nothing about, while dealing with the same daily stressors as our peers, just to become the person we’ve always known ourselves to be. Be kind and gentle to one another, because everyone is fighting a battle that you know nothing about – this is what trans looks like, this is trans life!
Drew Faithful, June 22, 2017
Man in the Mirror
The journey to become myself has been a long and trying road, filled with many ups and downs. It’s comprised of sleepless nights in my car and still getting up for work. It’s bouncing from friends house to friends house, couch to couch, floor to floor, to offer a sense of stability. It’s working 70 hours; 7 days a week to ensure I can afford my transitional surgeries and work towards financial independence. It’s going without, to make sure my bills are paid. It’s seeing that thing I’ve always wanted but deciding to save my money instead. It’s looking at myself in the mirror after a 14-hour day and forcing myself to the gym. It’s pushing through that last rep when my body just wants to quit.
It’s looking everyone in the eye that has said I can’t and telling them that I can. It’s having the confidence to look past the judgmental stares and discriminatory comments by being secure within. It’s facing health issues, medical procedures and the fear of the unknown, with strength and perseverance. It’s saying out loud, this won’t defeat me.
It’s dealing with the let downs and heartache knowing that my journey isn’t with the approval of those that I love. It’s learning to look at my scars and see the beauty and the freedom they possess. It’s the struggle of looking at certain body parts or lack there of and still seeing the man that I am. It’s looking at myself in the mirror and telling myself “I will not be my first obstacle”. It’s knowing that I’m in control of my destiny and my goals will be achieved. I may not be the man I know myself to be just yet, but I’m still fighting everyday to ensure one day that I meet him.
By Sarah Skinner