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Persons whose gender self-perception differs from their anatomies have probably been around "forever," but burgeoning population, communications, individualism, and human rights during the past half-century have made them more visible, vocal, and various. Most of Allen's photographic subjects haven't undergone genital reconstruction, even when they have taken other steps such as altering facial hair and breast size. Most say they've gone as far as they want with physical changes. They now want to be respected as the persons they have become. Allen, who has photographed transgender persons for 20 years, shows them as they wish to be seen, which for some gender-reassigned persons includes nakedness (and, for one, images from penile-constructive surgery) as well as wearing everyday and special-occasion attire. Informative and more endearing than Allen or her subjects perhaps intended, the pictures are photojournalistic, not studio work, portraying the subjects at work and play, at home and in public. If the concluding biographical statements report plenty of pathos and worse, Allen's pictures demonstrate that such suffering lies in her subjects' pasts. Ray Olson
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Mariette Pathy Allen documents the lives of extraordinary individuals, their partners, families and friends. Through photographs and short texts, the reader is offered an intimate connection to the book’s subjects and -insight into how their own lives are affected by gender. As Allen says: "Trans-gendered people offer the rest of us a potentially exhilarating -vision of fluidity, freed from traditional roles or definitions. They make vivid the questions: What is the essence of humanness beyond masculinity or femininity?"
Framed by the emerging transgender political movement, The Gender Frontier is one of the first book to include both female-to-males and male-to-females, as well as queer youth. One of her subjects, Robert Eads, a female-to-male who died of ovarian cancer, was also prominently featured in the award-winning film Southern Comfort