Yesterday, Broadly launched a stock photo library called the Gender Spectrum Collection. The rich resource of 180 photographs centers 15 trans and non-binary models, photographed by Zackary Drucker, and is available to the public for free.
The collection’s aim is to help media sites expand their visual representation of trans and non-binary individuals, without pigeonholing gender as the totality of their identity. The models stage typical stock photo scenes in classrooms, cafés, the workplace, at home, and more. Broadly describes the project as going “beyond the clichés of putting on makeup and holding trans flags,” explaining that while transgender and non-binary individuals are experiencing heightened mainstream visibility, “they’re often portrayed in ways that are misrepresentative, and at times outright destructive.”
“The majority of Americans understand what it means to be trans through the media they consume, making media imagery depicting transgender people particularly significant,” Broadly explains.
Stock photo website Shutterstock told the Vice publication that there was a 64 percent increase in “transgender” as a search term from February 2018 to February 2019. Searches for “gender fluid” on Getty Images tripled from June 2017 to June 2018; however, the three most downloaded images hid the faces of the trans people they were meant to represent. A harmful trope common in stock photography reduces trans individuals to images of their isolated body parts.
The series photographer, Zackary Drucker, is also a Transparent producer and experimental short film director. In 2018, for the article Seven Contemporary Photographers Represent Trans Communities on Their Own Terms, she told Hyperallergic, “Photography, in my earliest developmental years, provided a space for me to author myself and to actualize my identity.”
In a promotional video for the Gender Spectrum Collection, Drucker elaborates: “Images of trans and gender non-conforming and non-binary people, it’s like a vacuum. There are so few images of us in culture. I’ve always felt a personal mission to create more images of our people. […] It’s imperative that trans [and] non-binary people are included in the authoring of their stories, their images. There’s something empowering about being photographed, especially when you are understood by the person making the image.”
Participating models gave their testimonies of how gender diverse representation in the media would have helped them and their families better understand their identities in their youth.
One model explains, “Had I seen these images when I was a kid, it would have ignited something in me sooner to know that I am entitled to present how I want to present, and do what I’m comfortable doing, with who I’m comfortable doing it [with]. […] Trans has always been, it will always be.”
Drucker concludes, “I hope that these images reach all corners of the world, so people, where there is less representation, less visibility, less presence of gender diversity, can see that we’re out there. That we’re living full lives, that we are in relationships and loved.”