“If you don’t see yourself anywhere else online, come here.”
posted on May 31, 2013 at 11:16am EDT
The Test Shot: Williams, left and Pallas, right.
“It’s always the very expected trans narrative in the newspapers; it’s always some horror story,” says L. Garnons Williams, photographer for the savvy trans-style Tumblr blog The Test Shot, which pairs photos of a transmasculine subject alongside a treatise on that person’s style. Except instead of profiling their subjects, Williams and business partner Jamie Pallas insist that the trans folks they document write their stories themselves.
Telling our own stories is an opportunity rarely granted to trans folks in mainstream media. Misgendering, sensationalizing, and otherwise undermining trans bodies is something of an international journalistic pastime. The New York Times has done it, and so has the Guardian across the pond; the New York Post was banned from this year’s GLAAD awards for particularly transphobic content, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer recently came under fire for disrespectful coverage of a trans murder victim (trans women — and trans women of color — are the most maligned segment of the trans population by far). Even the less egregious stories, the ones that reinforce binary identities or simplistic narratives like “born in the wrong body,” render diverse trans identities invisible.
Like a lot of younger folks unhappy with these portrayals in traditional outlets, 24-year-old Williams and 26-year-old Pallas, who met in a real-life London support group for trans guys, found themselves drawn to social media as a solution. Pallas, interested in style blogs, rarely saw trans men represented in a context that wasn’t trans-specific, and Williams’ nonbinary gender identity was at odds with the macho guys they saw at the support group and in YouTube videos. They say they wanted to show diverse masculinities and trans folks engaging deeply with the infinite iterations of style and identity as they figured out their own gender identities. So they turned to Tumblr.