ArtFilm / TVSex & Gender

the black trans women & mothers of ballroom culture are paid homage to in this personal photo essay

June 18, 2018
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By Kae Goode*, AFROPUNK contributor 


My life has been filled with moments where I searched high and low for a series and works that represented me and my Black Trans-sisters’ realities. I found myself taking in works like Noah’s Arc which was ground-breaking for its time but not quite my story. As I grew confidently in my womanhood I found myself indulging in characters like Mary Jane Paul played by a forever fav Gabrielle Union but regardless of her fierceness, beautiful imperfections, and strength in which aided me in finding own gumption, it still wasn’t quite what I was looking for. I got to a point where I felt I would eventually have to task myself with the labor of attempting to create works that centered Black Trans Woman and our experiences—eventually…Though it is something I would love to do and am working on, having to be forced to or feel obligated to execute a task, that big could become very exhausting, draining and not to mention anxiety driven.  It wasn’t until POSE made its debut on FX where I felt I found the representation I was searching for.

POSE is a TV on FX (by American Horror Story‘s Ryan Murphy)  that tells the stories of Queer and Trans People of Color navigating 1980s New York; a time before companies wanted to commodify off one’s identity or a time before there was a hashtag or rainbow heart reactions on Facebook. In POSE there may not be constant visuals of black fat femme bodies my heart is still filled with joy when I see stunning Trans-woman like Dominque Jackson strut across the screen powerfully. It is amazing to get to experience the things I have searched through my childhood and well into my adulthood for; seeing Black Trans Woman placed in the center, where it is apparent that their voices are heard and our actual stories matter! POSE is filled with drama, laughter, suspense, fear, and a lot of realities that Black Trans Woman face today! There are a plethora of Trans Woman in this show, unlike other shows where there is one tokenized trans body that we constantly see but don’t really hear.

This photo series was inspired by the POSE team as well as the ancestors from that era who couldn’t make it see their daughters on television as more than background characters, secrets or side chicks & sidekicks. I may not fit a size 2 but I exist in this sort of privilege to have a space to create my own reality thanks to woman like Octavia St. Laurent whose goal at one moment was to become a model/actress and I may not make it to fashion week or on someone’s campaign or even television but, I still have the space as an artist to make my visions very visible. My goal is to continue to execute art to represent my ancestors, my fat femme family and Trans/GNC fam who will come after me.

This series was shot by Prime (Instagram). His amazing skills brought my concepts to reality and for that I am so grateful.

View more more images on Instagram

*’POSED’ is a Photo series conceptually created by Kae Goode and Shot by Prime; an Atlanta Based Photographer. ‘POSED’ was inspired by newly-aired television series POSE which properly tells the stories of Black Queer and Trans People of Color navigating 1980s New York. This photo series is also a form of homage to the Black Trans Woman/ Mothers who existed in the 1980s Ball Scene who were glamorous, sultry, and sexy.