Friday, April 12, 2019

Mariette Pathy Allen's NY Photo Exhibition

SCC '95

Four decades of photos show American trans communities living and loving

Maieette's Pathy Allen's 1989 photo book "Transformations: Cross Dressers and Those Who Love Them" was a milestone moment for those of us in the gender community.  

I was working in San Diego and ventured into the downtown upscale bookstore, Brentano's.  Displayed in a table, front and center, was a book that took my breath away. Prior to this momentous event almost all transgender literature was relegated to the backroom or under the counter at adult book stores. The cover was pink and had a beautiful reflective photo of one of "us" on the cover.  I quickly purchase my new treasure and exited Horton Plaza not wanting to wait another minute to read and enjoy. We had arrived. See my previous post on this as well.  

Mariette described her book on the jacket cover this way:
Transformations is a book of photographs and interviews with those men who depend on feminine imagery to reach full personality expression.  The crossdresser often sees his femme creation as his better half - the kinder more charming person who has greater access to enjoy life..

These images are as tender as they are powerful, and this provocative study reveals a fascinating sub-culture that challenges the concept of male identity.      

I am honored to call Mariette a friend. We met at a Burbank Transgender Convention, Holiday En Femme, shortly after her book was published. We talked and shared some photography geek stuff and and I applauded her work that helped to move our community out of the secretive closet and be understood.   

We met again at the Southern Comfort Transgender Conference (SCC) in Atlanta. in the spring shortly after her book was published. 

There she presented an hour slide presentation of her transgender work including many photos that had not made the book.  

There she described that her first instruction to our group was while she was attending Mardi Gras in 1978.  " I went to my hotel dining room for breakfast and was confronted by a room full of figures in long sequined dresses, butterfly eyelashes and cascading hairpieces. After breakfast, as if on queu, the group lined up around the hotel pool, striking poses.  Each of then was focused in a different direction, except for one person wearing a green lame dress who looked back at me calmly and directly. It was as if I was seeing into someone's soul, unburdened by masculinity or femininity...  Her full humanity was was present." Mariette's slide presentation had the photo she took that morning.  

Over the years, Mariette and I would spend time takling at many of the conventions she would attend. I would help her setup and facilitates some presentations;  and I am so honored to know her. 

Some of my most prized photos from my early venturing out years were taken by Mariette at SCC.    

Mariette has an exhibition of her work at the Museum of Sex  NY, running until September 8, 2019.  It's title, "RITES OF PASSAGE, 1978-2006".  I hope to visit before it closes. 

Mariette Pathy Allen’s Rites of Passage - photo From Exhibition 



  1. Love this post, Rhonda and so interested to read some of your recollection. The first book I ever found was: The Transsexual Phenomenon by Harry Benjamin, during my university first summer vacation in 1975. I didn't think I was transsexual but found out there were others who thought and did as I had already been doing for many years. Things were so different then for us. Thanks for sharing. Love Linda

  2. The Museum of Sex is a very interesting museum. I've gone to see several exhibitions there.