Why We Created a Gender-Inclusive Stock Photo Library
The Gender Spectrum Collection is a stock photo library featuring trans and non-binary models that aims to help media better represent members of these communities.
A transmasculine gender-nonconforming person and transfeminine non-binary person nuzzling. All photos by Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection.
In 2015, shortly before Broadly went live, journalist Diana Tourjée pitched us a story on tucking. When the piece, a humorous and candid guide for non-op trans women and Diana’s first article for Broadly, was ready for publication, the editors searched for a photo to accompany the article. The words “transgender person in underwear” and variations on that theme returned zero results in the stock photo library we used. Eventually, the editors landed on an image of a young man’s lower body, showing his legs beneath a pair of sheer pantyhose.
Immediately after publishing, Diana, who became a staff member on Broadly a few months later, reached out to request we change the image, pointing out how insensitive and harmful it is to depict a trans woman with a photo of a cisgender man. The editors changed and apologized, calling the error an “oversight.” It’s embarrassing to think back on this moment, and it’s still frustrating to look at that article now — the replacement image is of a cisgender woman in shorts, with her head cropped off.
In the years since, Broadly editors have worked diligently to think more thoughtfully and critically about how we represent trans and non-binary people in our work. But even at our best, we have been limited by the stock imagery available to us. Today, we’re launching The Gender Spectrum Collection, a stock photo library of over 180 images of 15 trans and non-binary models, shot by artist and photographer Zackary Drucker, and made available to the public for free.
Transgender and non-binary people are likely more visible in mass media today than ever before in history, but they’re often portrayed in ways that are misrepresentative, and at times outright destructive. Because only 16 percent of Americans say they know a transgender person, the majority of Americans understand what it means to be trans through the media they consume, making media imagery depicting transgender people particularly significant.
Read more on Broadly.
Join Broadly for EUPHORIA on March 30 in New York to see the Gender Spectrum Collection photos in person and celebrate Trans Day of Visibility with performances from Big Freedia and House of LaBeija, as well as a conversation with Alok, Tyler Ford, and Tourmaline.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.