Out for a Ride

skyride, originally uploaded by laura handbag.

Posted by on February 12th, 2010 at 10:00 am

Category: faces 5 comments »

5 Responses to “Out for a Ride”

  1. Lauren S

    Ok, I am trying to figure out what is going on in the minds of some of you Genderfork editors. This is a site that “explores androgyny and gender variance through artistic photography and other neat stuff.” So either:

    1) Women riding bicycles is somehow androgynous or gender variant. As a female cyclist who knows a lot of other female cyclists, I will have to disagree.

    2) Trans women themselves are inherently androgynous or gender variant because… umm… help me out here? Cause you read them as trans?

    Just last week someone posted another random photo of an older trans woman wearing a business suit that left me similarly befuddled.

    I just think it’s kind of skeezy and un-gendering for you to poach photos off of flickr of trans people doing fairly normal everyday things, and putting them up here as an example of gender-variance or whatever. And even skeezier that it tends to be trans women, whose gender variance is often used against them, and whose relationship with the gender-variance that you’re highlighting is unknown.

    Sure, many trans people are very consciously gender-variant in the way they present themselves or pose for a particular photo. I think you can usually tell by the context of the photo if they are going for intentional gender-variance or not. Maybe you should be a little more thoughtful about which photos you choose.


  2. Sarah Dopp

    Hi Lauren,

    Thanks for this comment! I’m glad you’re here, and I appreciate that you’re being thoughtful about your commentary.

    You’re absolutely right that this is a sensitive issue, and I’m completely open to the suggestion that we need to change our policies. It will probably help, though, if I first offer a few more pieces of context around what you’re seeing…

    1) One of the most common criticisms we get about our photo pool is that it’s dominantly transmasculine. There are lots of reasons for this, but the short version is: we have a lot more of those photos to work with. Our curators are asked to dig harder for transfeminine photos to attempt to balance this out. (Ditto for age, race, class, and body types, though that’s an entirely separate conversation.) Sometimes this means taking some liberties.

    2) Our curators are asked to only run photos of people who seem like they’d be proud to be on Genderfork. This photo was cross-posted in Flickr to the “Extreme Crossdressing,” “t girls outside,” and “Trannys on 2 Wheels” photo pools. That, to us, is a green light for inclusion, at least from the perspective of the person who owns the photo.

    3) When we first started the site, we were very careful to only run photos that had obvious gender ambiguity in the photo (and because of this, I even included a disclaimer in my original materials that a photos of trans people may not fit that criteria… and I continued to receive lots of those submissions anyway). But we eased up this rule a few months ago after a big conversation about femmes wanting more inclusion on the site — the argument being that femme is genderqueer, and that this site is becoming less about ambiguity and more about the conscious subversion, rejection, or reclamation of gender. So we’re now opening up to photos where the gender story is behind the image, rather than always visible.

    It’s a clumsy evolution, to be sure, and we’re still figuring out how best to describe what we’re about. But I hope that explains to some degree why this photo is here, and what we’re trying to accomplish.

    I would love to hear your suggestions on how we can improve our presentation of this process, and where you think we can go from here.

    Most importantly, we’re about celebration.

    Thanks and love,


  3. Adisson

    It’s also important to note that we leave comments on all the photos we run so that the photographers have time to tell us if they DON’T want their photos run (and the lag time between putting things into the queue and them going live is often weeks).



  4. Anonymous

    I guess I learn as much from the discussions as from anything else. Thanks to Lauren for raising this point. And thanks to Sarah for this discussion that takes these issues seriously. I like this line: “the conscious subversion, rejection, or reclamation of gender” as opposed to simple gender ambiguity. I mean the most gender ambiguous photo you could possibly show would be a newborn baby wrapped in a blanket, but somehow that doesn’t totally get at what people are doing with their lives in terms of consciousness and intentionality. Although i do like the kid photos.


  5. Lauren P

    Lauren S.:

    Who are you to determine what sex someone is? Genderfork includes everything, because that’s exactly what each and every one of us should be doing when we think about gender: including, accepting, and loving every possible expression of gender.


Leave a Reply

Can I show your picture? If you have a Gravatar associated with this email address, it will be displayed as your photo. If not, I'll just put a picture of a fork next to your comment. Everybody likes forks.

Be nice. Judgmental comments will be quietly deleted and blacklisted. There's plenty of room for those elsewhere on the web.

For legal reasons, you must be age 13 or older to post a comment on Genderfork.

You can use some HTML tags for formatting, e.g. <em>...</em> for emphasis (italics) or <strong>...</strong> for strong emphasis (bold) or <a href="http://(url)">...</a> for links.

Back to top