Steve Conlan | T.V., T.S. & Drag2

Since these pictures were taken, in 1984, the politics and language of transgender have progressed significantly and, with it, a greater acceptance and understanding in the general psyche. Thank God. However for the purpose of historical context, I have included the original press release for the exhibition in its original form.

Unfortunately, the original interviews referred to in the press release have been lost during the exhibition's travels between various archives in the north west and no copies were made (computers were few in the mid '80's and it was assumed that the text panels would be preserved along with the photographs). I am sure there are a couple of C90 cassette tapes gathering dust somewhere ready to be found and transcribed. Until that time, I hope that the pictures will go some way to speak for themselves.

Here is the original press release:

 

T.V./ T.S. & Drag

The world of transvestism and transsexualism is still very much a clandestine affair, caused in the main by the male dominated, macho-orientated society of the western hemisphere in general, and the North of England in particular. Harassment, abuse and physical violence have all ensured that the taboo subject of men as women and women as men has stayed well and truly underground, resulting in a great many myths and misconceptions being centred around the lives of transvestites and transsexuals, perpetuating more fear and consequent hatred for a totally misunderstood part of the community.

This exhibition is centred around the lives of two transsexuals and tow transvestites, one seeking medical advice in order to prepare him/ herself for the long and involved process of becoming a transsexual. However, the exhibition begins with a look at present day drag, the stereotyped image of a man in a frock, in order to highlight the differences between the area of entertainment and the ordinary life of the transvestite and transsexual.

Having spent the last twelve months visiting those people in the photographs, an awareness of each of our needs were developed to the point where I could take pictures without disturbing the atmosphere. They were very much aware of my presence yet very few of the images were of a posed nature. Through this mutual understanding a set of photographs of this fascinating, if not somewhat bewildering subject, of a sympathetic, non-voyeuristic manner were produced.

Along with the photographs extracts from interviews with those concerned are hung on the walls providing brief life stories, giving specific details about the problems they have faced; the childhood guilt, facing the family and the long and complicated hospital and psychiatric treatment incurred.

In this exhibition the words and images form an important integration, the text providing the past-history, the photographs showing the present day. It is important within the subject of T.V.'s and T.s.'s that events prior to the photographs are explained in order that a fuller understanding of the images can be achieved.

All the photographs were taken indoors. most within a home environment. This fact on it's own provides a kind of insight into the T.v./T.S. world, the fact that there are few places in Liverpool where T.V.'s and T.s.'s feel safe; home, the T.V./T.S. group on a Friday night and one or two clubs being the closed circle available. It is a sad fact that in this relatively free political society, that society produces its own laws which deprive the individual of his/her self expression.