[I care about] advancing safety, here in Newton, Surrey and world wide. So many women (some men) I have met are survivors, too many! I worry about the discussions not taking place around domestic violence/youth rapes/sexual assaults. Crimes against women/children are still considered low level priority. Canadian penal system does not enforce penalties that would deter. The media distorts by objectifying and sexualizing. People still buy into the myth that somehow the victim provokes or calls abuse upon themselves, therefore have no compassionate empathy. Being a victim of horrendous violence scars for life Persons who never experienced violence are unaware of the realities. It is time to stand up and say, "No". To stop saying T.M.I, switch the channel, or flip the newspaper page. Until, it happens to them or someone close to them. The answer as I see it is much more dialogue; public action plans, education in schools, rallies and protest marches. If we all stood up and said, "Stop", we could change societal awareness and make new laws to protect women and children from systemic Violence. As long as society looks away and says a slap on the hand is punishment enough then nothing will change. I call on all men and women to stop for a minute and think about solutions to end violence against women and children in B.C. and Canada. The silence is killing daily. People need to know other people care and will stand up with them, most I have talked with just feel betrayed and alone.
I care about using photography as a means for change. I am very passionate about the subjects that I photograph, and this always inspires me to push further. My birth photography work started in conjunction with my doula work, accompanying women during childbirth, and documenting the experience for them. This has made an impact in two ways: First, documentation of a vulnerable moment in a woman's life allows her access to it afterwards, to process what happened. Often the births I attend are full of love and support, and women feel proud and empowered by the experience. Having documentation of this makes it even more real for them, and they can relive the moments again. Sometimes, it's a matter of catching moments from an observer's perspective, moments that they might not have even remembered, as they were experiencing it from a very different perspective. Another way these birth images have been making an impact is by showing women what actually happens during childbirth. For the most part, a woman preparing for childbirth, or hoping to get pregnant, has never been to a birth, and has no practical experience or knowledge about what actually happens. My photos have been helping women prepare for childbirth. These photos have changed women's thoughts about childbirth from fear to excitement. Birth is not something to dread. Women's bodies are not incapable. They were literally made to do this. They are powerful and capable. I would like to continue photographing birth, and hope to travel in order to document the differences in birthing around the world. Birth is on the cusp of change. It is in need of change. Women (and their partners) are speaking up about their right to birth where they want, attended by who they want, and under the circumstances that they want. Birth statistics are incredibly disastrous right now, and I hope through photographing the different birth cultures around the world I can help create a more balanced, positive, and inclusive birthing culture for women and their children.
As a female-to-male transsexual, I am a member of a highly marginalized and often misunderstood gender-creative community. The transgender community has one of the highest suicide attempt rates of any marginalized group - a fact I find unacceptable. While statistics specific to Canada are difficult to find due to lack of research in this area, a community-based research project in Ontario determined that 43% of the transgender individuals they surveyed in that province reported attempting suicide. This is in line with findings from the US National Center for Transgender Equality and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. The US task force found that of the 7,000 transgender people they surveyed, 41% had attempted suicide at least once. I have personally experienced the suicide of loved ones and have myself grappled with suicidal thoughts as a result of the losses I have faced due to my transgender identity. My goal is to tell my story and raise awareness about this silent epidemic. While this community is gaining increased visibility thanks to celebrities like Chaz Bono, Laverne Cox, Buck Angel, Jenna Talackova, Lana Wachowski and Chelsea Manning, to name just a few, many in this community continue to face rejection from their families, employers, friends, and communities simply for who they are. This needs to stop. No one deserves to die for who they are.
I started Tips for Change in early August 2013. The idea was to raise awareness to anything that other servers/bartenders cared to by telling costumers at the end of their service their tips would be donated to where that person thought the money should go. I didn't start T.F.C. with a grand scheme. I started it truthfully because I was angry. Someone I love at one point in their life was sexually assaulted. I was angry it happened. I was angry at the individual(s) who were involved. I was angry I was not there at that point in time to intervene - a very male romantic idea to stop the wrong doing just before it happens. I wanted to buy back what happened to my friend. I care about the women in my life. I also care about the males in my life and I'm concerned about the ones who look down on women. I care about what people think it means to be a man in our society, that men can justify taking advantage of women in situations and remove themselves from blame. I care about preventing sexual assault. I care to change the definition of being a man to being Hu-Man.
I am deeply involved in learning and sharing compassionate communication (or nonviolent communication) and interpersonal neurobiology with others as a way to improve the quality of connection and understanding with myself, my friends and the larger community. Being able to identify my emotional reactions and the needs or values that drive them help me communicate more clearly with others, especially when I develop an understanding of how language impacts us. In addition, beginning to learn about the function of our brain and nervous system as a socially influenced whole deepens that understanding and communication with others (or myself). In a supportive, knowledgeable community I can help change the way my brain processes information, so I am making conscious choices instead of unconscious reactions. I can literally build my brain’s functioning to become more whole and integrated. For me, the experience of real connection, trust, love and community was shut down early in my life, and only reawakened and continues to grow as l learn and practice compassionate communication and bring empathy to old memories I experienced as traumatic. To learn that I matter, and belong, and that contributing and supporting others also meets my needs has been transformative, and I want to share this experience with others.
Everywhere I look , there are stories. We all live within a story and from time to time change our entire life because we heard a story that shook our being to the core. Those are the stories that I seek , the ones that we thought never existed , never thought of as possible, thought of as not important, or just down right ludicrous. Well, I know of people who have such stories to share and have most certainly empowered me with their words, and I believe that if I share their stories with the world, the world WILL change.
Photo Submisssion : Dee, North Vancouver