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Timothi Jane Graham | California, United States

Lexi is a 60 year old Trans Woman. She began her medical transition two years ago. Transitioning has been a challenge for her later in life as she feels disconnected from the younger Trans Women in her community and what she sees as their more glamorous journey to wholeness. She feels insecurity and shame over her hereditary hair loss and will never go out without one of her many wigs. On this rare occasion she allowed me to photograph her at home as she is.

I first met Lexi at the beginning of her medical gender affirmation journey in December 2020. At 58 years old, she had identified and lived as a woman for decades behind closed doors. She was born and raised in Ecuador where the LGBTQ community faces intense discrimination which often ends in violence. After her family immigrated to the USA, she began to explore her gender identity and like many Trans women she spent her early years rejected and isolated from family and friends. This led to a deep depression and several suicide attempts. She supported herself and funded her transition through sex work and cleaning nightclub toilets. Apart from her former partner Laura, she still spends much of her time alone. Now at age 60, she has started to venture out of the shadows, exploring what this next chapter means for her as an out Trans Woman and finding her place in a world that both supports and fears her.

When Lexi and I came into each other's orbit, we discovered we had much common ground. We’re close in age, we spent significant years of our lives in NYC and we both danced around the edges of the Trans Ballroom scene back in the 80’s and into the early 90’s. Me, as a curious bystander, who befriended some of the girls, and Lexi, as someone who was looking for inspiration and a path forward as she worked as a bouncer by night and embodied her female gender at home, alone, during the day.

Many of the Trans Women I knew back then were trailblazers. They set the table for those that came decades later. Most, abandoned by blood relatives, came together as "Houses", a kind of chosen family where they could support one another as they expressed their gender identity. For many of these out Trans Women the only way to make a living was sex work. Most of the girls I knew from back then didn't make it. Taken far too early by AIDS or violence at the hands of a john.

Although still somewhat closeted during that period, Lexi walked that tight rope too. She had more than her fair share of brushes with potentially fatal encounters and it took some time to gain her trust. Unlike now, Lexi and these otherTrans Women came out in an era with very little support and Trans heath was basically unheard of. Coming out in her day was a dangerous game. So she hid. This formed a neural pathway for isolation that she has carried with her her whole life. It continues as she tries to enter a community that is in many ways focused on those that are decades younger than her. It also informs how she expresses herself and interacts with others.

Despite the fact that Lexi often wears brightly colored wigs and clothing, I found myself converting her imagery into black and white. I think this is because I see Lexi as someone who has lived in varying degrees of shadow her whole life and only now, at 60, has she been able to take her first steps into the light.

The LGBT Center Los Angeles


917 349 3743

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