Made Up (Maggie) image

Made Up (Maggie)

Made Up, conceived and executed collaboratively with Erin Vaughan, is an exploration of human transformation via play, the primary mode through which we learn to be human and form individual identities. The project began with an ad posted to Craigslist in New York, NY, seeking individuals who either had a secret feminine identity, or wished to cultivate one. Erin and I met with those who responded, and made a portrait of them as they self-present on aline daily basis, in the public sphere. Then, we conducted an interview based on their dreams and visions, and helped them to develop an idea of future fantasy play, which Erin and I would attempt to bring to reality. After helping the participants to craft a new physical, emotional, and spiritual feminine identity, we created a new portrait and conducted another interview, wishing to emphasize emotion over reason. Erin and I believe that identity is fluid and the practice of working closely with trusted others can have a positive impact upon one’s feelings regarding both their inward and outwardly perceived self. Made Up was motivated by both the nuances of humanity and the love of those who embrace their differences, while attempting to break down othering classification schemas. Our only hope was to help people to realize and embody their true ego and the feminized person they had always dreamt of becoming. Thank you to Erin Vaughan for your love and friendship, and to all who reached out and placed trust in us.


*Name changed to protect identity

Occupation: Software and App Design, Architecture
City: Brooklyn, NY
Born: Hong Kong, China
Age: 32

Maggie’s Hair
Archival Pigment Print
Edition of 8 and 2 Artist’s Proofs
30 x 42 Inches

This interview was conducted before Maggie was transformed into her new female identity.

Erin: We placed an ad and you answered it. So, tell me first what made you interested in participating.

Maggie: Let’s see. That’s an interesting one. I always just browse around craigslist, but I never really go for any romantic connections. It’s mostly just shopping, reading, people for work, collaborations … Yeah, every time for love, it is strange to me. But, then, one of the things that I always search is “W for T,” which is “women for trans people,” which are very rare. Not a lot of people post on craigslist (for that) and I always wonder “do these people even exist?” There’s a lot of “M for T,” male for transgender people and they all kind-of have the 4-chan or 7-chan (porn links). After a while, when you look for all these messages about transgender in terms of romance and relationship, it’s like … are there really only so few ways out there for a relationship? But, back to “W for T,” only once in a while there is like a genuine post in there.

Erin: Right, that are not just a link to pornography?

Maggie: Yeah. And most “M for T” are just a guy with a dick just trying to treat … they think the trans person is just really into having sex and not a human being. A lot of people like that post so it makes me really afraid to respond to anybody. So, when I see this post (ours), I think there is some … it is this time in my life right now where a lot of things have fallen apart … so, it’s good to talk to people about it. So, if you guys are interested in it, it will give me some perspective.

Erin: What do you mean your life is falling apart?

Maggie: I dealt with a lot of stuff this year … oh man, a lot of things have started over for me. Like earlier this year, I lost my girlfriend, I lost my jobs, I almost lost my immigration visa, almost lost my place to live. Then I basically lost my savings and so it was really tough for me for the past 8 or 9 months. So, I have been seeing a therapist and then started making new friends and talking to people. It’s a lot about spirituality and also it’s good to really try to figure out my identity more clearly. I think I am pretty clear myself, but in a relationship, it’s always unclear because there are so few people out there.

Erin: So, it’s hard to find someone to relate to, which would help you understand yourself more?

Maggie: Yeah, exactly.

Erin: So, tell me how you would describe your identity now, up until today.

Maggie: I kind-of just think I am who I am and I don’t really think about it unless I am hit with something.

Erin: What do you mean hit with something?

Maggie: Unless, I am in a situation that I am in contact with things that challenge my existence … that make me feel uncomfortable or discriminated … I never want to think that I am being discriminated (against), but there is always that pressure … when I am trying to work on my job and trying to meet people, it’s like, “wait a minute, why does everyone … especially in the tech world … why is everybody always talking to the… don’t want to say, white man?”

Erin: White man?

Maggie: It’s like I had more accolades under my belt than anybody, but nobody would talk to me.

Erin: So, you felt discriminated against in your job? And what is your job?

Maggie: I mean, is that actually discrimination or is it other things in me that are not working … like, am I not communicating with people? So, there is a lot of self-questioning. But, then there is like so much self-questioning that I feel like maybe that’s not really my problem. Maybe that’s the world.

Erin: Maybe it really is discrimination?

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: And tell me a little about your job … just briefly, what it is.

Maggie: I am creative. I do design for a lot of things, mostly for computer software, apps on the phone, things like that. In tech, basically.

Erin: Tell me … I want to go back … you were born physically as a male, so tell me about the evolution of …

Maggie: My past life?

Erin: Tell me how did that feel as it evolved because it seems like you have a clear sense of yourself and I want to know how you came to that.

Maggie: Gender is a combination of a lot of things. It’s really hard to say, “I am male and I am female” because that is like – how would I describe it? I try to think of a good metaphor. It’s like trying to generalize about all the dishes of food on a menu – “this is sweet, this is salty, this is bitter…” But, there are so many other qualities in each thing that defines that plate of food.

Erin: So, you see that there is a combination of many qualities. It sounds like you are describing many flavors, not just male/female.

Maggie: Yeah, that’s how I see it these days. But when I grew up and had to … in terms of all these phases where I have to deal with my identity … I have to stick to a certain gender. Ok, I am woman or I am man.

Erin: When you were growing up, you had to stick to one gender?

Maggie: Yeah, I have to stick to one gender. I am a guy, I don’t really have any deviations. And then when I swing the other way around, there is no guy stuff, only woman.

Erin: At what age did you realize that you had to face that choice?

Maggie: I started to realize that I had to face that choice around 16 or 17.

Erin: Tell me about that experience.

Maggie: For a while I just … I don’t have a good family. I have insomnia that started early in my life, which is something I still have.

Erin: You’re an insomniac because of your family?

Maggie: I think a lot, my mind races a lot because of family, childhood problems. My parents’ divorce, they fought a shit lot …

Erin: They are apart now? Do you have brothers and sisters?

Maggie: Yeah. I have an older sister. So, it’s like, even starting 10 years old, I start having trouble sleeping all the time. And then I start realizing there are ways to actually help me go to sleep. So, it’s not counting sheep or counting numbers. Those don’t work either. It’s … before I go to bed, I fantasize things.

Erin: And what did you fantasize?

Maggie: I fantasize me turning into something else.

Erin: What would you turn into?

Maggie: A lot of times I think I was turning into a girl. But, I also think about doing other things. A robot, a dog, a horse or something. (Laughing) A fetishist …

Erin: And that helped you to sleep?

Maggie: Yeah, when I think about being a girl, it really helps me to sleep. And for a while, it’s like “oh, cool! I enjoy going to bed, I like going through all of that.” Then after a while, it’s like, “why do I think about these things so much?”

Erin: And when you would fantasize about becoming a girl, what would happen in the imagery?

Maggie: Just imagine my body changing, growing longer hair and you know, (points to breasts and laughs) and boobs.

Erin: Just physical changes of your body?

Maggie: Yeah, physical changes and feeling much lighter and happier. So, then I can fall asleep, just thinking about it.

Erin: How did it make you feel when you were a boy? Would that keep you awake? Was it a pressure? And anxiety to be that? Was that a pressure from your family?

Maggie: Yeah, I do all these things in the middle of the night when nobody is awake. Sometimes, if I think about it, I fantasize another thing until I can sleep. But yeah, Hong Kong is a very conservative place, so it is strange. I mean even putting face paint on the face is kind-of like I am deviating from the norm.

Erin: Face paint? You mean makeup?

Maggie: Yeah. Something as simple as that. I feel almost like committing a sin or something.

Erin: Because your family is conservative?

M: Yeah, last night I am in a party (Halloween party) with all the naked bodies and a red, giant cross hanging upside down (covers face with hand and laughs).

Erin: What was your family’s religion?

Maggie: They don’t really have a religion. I went to Catholic school and my mom’s kind-of Catholic … that’s about it. It’s not like a religious household. But, Hong Kong in general has that religious conservatism.

Erin: It’s mostly Catholic?

Maggie: Yeah, it’s not about Catholic or not. It’s just about conservatism. You don’t have sex.

Erin: Most people don’t talk about sex?

Maggie and the Flower Hat
Archival Pigment Print
Edition of 8 and 2 Artist’s Proofs
30 x 42 Inches

Maggie: Most people would never ever talk about it. Yeah. Nobody talks about it. So, I actually had no knowledge of sex until much much, much later in my life.

Erin: When?

Maggie: Until like 28.

Erin: You had no knowledge? You didn’t know anything about it?

Maggie: Like, how to actually do it. (Laughs) You know, I’m pretty new.

Erin: How did you find out about sex?

Maggie: It’s like, I would fantasize as a kid, then I would wake up and say, oh my underpants are wet. And I don’t know what’s going on actually, which is actually cum. I had actually cum a lot (Laughing).

Erin: No one ever told you?

Maggie: No one ever told me what that is. I thought, “did I start peeing in the middle of the night? What the hell is going on?” Yeah, I am that stupid.

Erin: No, it’s not stupid. How would you know?

Maggie: Nobody tells me. So, all the way until much much later in college in the States, I wouldn’t even found out what it is.

Erin: So, the fantasy about being a girl, in your mind, was also sexual?

Maggie: Probably, it was.

Erin: You just didn’t realize that there was such a thing as sexuality.

Maggie: Yeah, it probably just built up really high, but never know how to jerk off because you don’t touch it.

Erin: Right, it just goes by itself if you are that young.

Maggie: Right, exactly… (laughing)… So, then, of all the characters in my head, just being a girl sticks out the most to me, you know. Maybe if society allows, maybe I would fantasize about going to school as a dog, but what I fantasize in the classroom is, “what if I were a girl just sitting around all these boys,” you know. Like, I would be a very special person.

Erin: It would make you feel more special because all the boys would see you?

Maggie: … I don’t know.

Erin: You would just feel special?

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: But you like women … as far as dating, you would rather date woman?

Maggie: Yes.

Erin: That’s cool.

Maggie: I know. I don’t like men.

Erin: You don’t like men?

Maggie: No offense… (pointing to Gray). It might be like a childhood issue, also.

Erin: Not liking men? Why?

Maggie: This is not going to use my real name, right?

Erin: No, whatever you want.

Maggie: So, yeah, it’s like, from what I can remember, and it took me a long time to figure out what is really going on… it’s like, my dad probably raped me when I was a kid.

Erin: Your father?

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: I’m sorry.

Maggie: Yeah, I was like 2 or 3 years old. My sister and I slept in the bunk bed. Hong Kong is small, so there isn’t a lot of space. We have to sleep in the same room. I remember many days when everybody is not in the house and somehow only he (father) is in the house, and I am in the house. I am in the lower side of the bunk bed. The bunk bed is like in the corner of the room. And because I was a baby, they put a gate and it’s like bars, the gate … it looks like an animal cage or something.

Erin: Really?

Maggie: Yeah. And you know how a crib is like, the top is open … for me, it was on all sides.

Erin: It was closed?

Maggie: Yeah, walls on all sides, like bars on 2 sides.

Erin: Until what age?

Maggie: Until 6 or 7.

Erin: You slept in the crib with …

Maggie: It’s like the lower bunk bed with a gate.

Erin: So, you couldn’t leave?

Maggie: Yeah, I couldn’t leave. And that’s when my father would come inside. And I can’t escape. And then he would like … it’s like gross and fucked up … like, would try to strangle me and suffocate me with the blanket and it gets really hot and I can’t breathe.

Erin: He didn’t want you to make sound?

Maggie: Yeah, and then he tried to like … He kisses all over me and touches my body naked … stuff like that … Uhhh…

Erin: So, you talked to your therapist about it?

Maggie: Yeah, I talked to her about it already, so … I have a problem with men who are aggressive, probably for this reason. Yeah, that probably affected me too, you know…

Erin: So, you don’t like the aggressiveness of men?

Maggie: No, that really doesn’t appeal to me. Like, anger that is not under control.

Erin: Was your father angry?

Maggie: Yeah, he was angry and have a temper all the time. And I feel like for that reason, that’s why I was submissive for most of the time in my life so far. Only until very recently.

Erin: And then what?

Maggie: I always feel like not empowered. I always feel like something is taken away from me. Like I live scared of other people. And yeah.

Erin: But, recently you have become more empowered?

Maggie: Yeah, recently I feel like some of the events that happened … like, everything fell apart, so I was like “fuck it, I’m dead anyway.”

Erin: Fuck it, you’re dead anyway, so you are just going to get over it?

Maggie: I feel like the therapy helped in a lot of ways. I really try to challenge myself and try to … you know, it just clicked. It’s really like the night before I meet you guys.

Erin: The night before?

Maggie: And I had a dream…

Maggie and Her Coffee Scarf
Archival Pigment Print
Edition of 8 and 2 Artist’s Proofs
30 x 42 Inches

Erin: Really?

Maggie: It was my biweekly, no, twice weekly masturbation session and I was going through pictures and I actually feel empowered and in control and I actually feel good about feeling myself in control of other men.

Erin: Oh, that’s good.

Maggie: It’s really interesting. It’s like a switch, which is interesting too. I was taking the psychology test and I used to be introverted and it’s only like this year that I turned to extroverted type.

Erin: So, there is something in you that would like to be able to control other men?

Maggie: I still have yet to try it. (Smiling)

Erin: But, it makes you happy to think about?

Maggie: Yeah! Look at this! (Points to smile)

Erin: Yeah, I see that.

Maggie: (Laughing…)

Erin: Well, I hope that works out. I hope you can explore that.

Maggie: Well, thank you for some opportunities.

Erin: That’s good. So how did you come to New York?

Maggie: (Still laughing)

Erin: Is that a dumb question?

Maggie: No, just still thinking …

Erin: You should be a dominatrix.

Maggie: (Laughing) … Yeah, my head is so filled up with stuff right now… (Laughing) … feeling horny just talking about it. Oh, good lord, what have I become? Yeah, finally, the therapy makes me feel like I am in control of my life. I mean, even though there is all this discrimination, I still can change what I feel. To face all of these things.

Erin: But that makes you feel more like a powerful woman, not a powerful man, but a powerful woman … if you had to pick?

Maggie: Exactly. Powerful woman. A woman warrior.

Erin: So, tell me about what you would be like as a woman, ideally? What have you done to move towards your vision of yourself and what is your vision of yourself?

Maggie: I mean, I am really happy with myself right now. So, I don’t exactly have a vision for myself.

Erin: Yeah. You’re taking hormones, right?

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: So, tell me about why you did that and what else you would like to do.

Maggie: Okay, this is going to be a five-hour conversation. I hope you guys are okay with that.

Erin: That’s fine. We have time.

Maggie: We can build a bon fire and talk until midnight. We can cuddle and drink red wine and have sex.

Erin: Okay … (Laughing) … what made you want to take hormones?

Maggie: Hormones is a strange strange strange strange thing. It symbolizes a lot of things and also physically manifests itself in a lot ways. You know, physically, and physiologically and mentally. How do I start? Taking hormones is always a contentious issue to me.

Erin: Contentious?

Maggie: Yeah, because … being a man or a woman … I see myself in my thirties … what makes me happy by the next decade? I am still a very family focused person. I want to have a farm, a nice place, a family. I don’t need to worry too much about a job just like everybody does. I mean, I am simple deep down.

Erin: You are a family person?

Maggie: Yeah, simple and I am a conservative person.

Erin: You’re conservative?

Maggie: Yeah. (Laughing)

Erin: I understand what you mean.

Maggie: And then, what does family mean? That would be like, you know, have a great partner, do great things together in life and have kids and things like that. But, then how would me as a woman fit into this picture?

Erin: And is that desire to have a family and that kind of stuff part of why you wanted to take hormones?

Maggie: Hormones are part of the picture, but is also in the way. So, to take hormones helps me realize my own identity physically, and by changing the way my body is, the secondary sex traits… So, as I get older and have more failures, that picture started to look less and less realizable.

Erin: The picture of you with a family as a woman?

Maggie: Yeah. And also, the hormone is in the way. It helps by making me realize myself and making me feel better as a person, as a whole, so it anchors myself. But, at the same time, it actually works against it because it actually changes my ability to reproduce. It changes my sex drive.

Erin: It decreases your sex drive?

Maggie: It actually increases my sex drive.

Erin: But, it changes your fertility as far as sperm.

Maggie: Yeah, it changes my fertility, exactly. It also changes the choice of the people that I can meet. It’s like, “are there even women interested in this at all?” Because I haven’t met any. It’s like, everybody, when they met me, they are not sure. You know, everybody in my age.

Erin: Yeah.

Maggie: So, it’s like this puzzle doesn’t seem to fit together.

Erin: So, it’s like you said on craigslist – there is nobody looking for this. It is hard to find. There is not a great pool of people who are looking for that situation.

Maggie: Yeah, it’s hard to find. So, this year I feel like, “fuck it.”

Erin: What do you mean?

Maggie: Like that part of the puzzle might never even fit together. At least, if I feel good about myself, I can still get somewhere. But, I wouldn’t know where that is.

Erin: You wouldn’t know where you are going?

Maggie: And it’s fine.

Erin: And that’s ok?

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: How is gender a component of your spiritual practice? Can you talk about that a little bit?

Maggie: Um, spiritual practice … I have a lot to talk about with the spiritual practice. But, it really didn’t come into the picture until recent years. Let’s see, where can I start? Yeah, it’s like performances. Back into when I couldn’t sleep as a kid. So, I wake up in the middle of the night. I’m sorry, but it’s gonna take you guys a long time to edit this thing, a lot of tangents …

Erin: Tell me when you couldn’t sleep.

Maggie: Yeah, so when I couldn’t sleep, I wake up in the middle of the night, for a while … I went into a Halloween store and there are only like two or three in Hong Kong …

Erin: You went in the middle of the night?

Maggie: No, during the day. Only two or three Halloween stores in the whole city of seven million people. Think about that. So, when I walk in, it’s like I am committing a horrible sin.

Erin: Really? Just going into a Halloween store?

Maggie: Yeah, why would I want to change and deviate from myself?

Erin: What was in the Halloween store that attracted you?

Maggie with Touching Hands
Archival Pigment Print
Edition of 8 and 2 Artist’s Proofs
30 x 42 Inches

Maggie: Like, all these fantasies, right? Things that can make you different. You can be something else.

Erin: All the costumes were opportunities?

Maggie: Like, I can become something else. I can get out of this shell.

Erin: Out of your shell?

Maggie: Yeah. This construct.

Erin: What did your shell look like or feel like?

Maggie: I was a very tame, straight-edge male student.

Erin: A tame, straight-edge male student?

Maggie: Yeah, hyper-achieving …

Erin: Hyper-achieving? So, you did well in school?

Maggie: Very well, yeah and I can continue to be that. At the age of 32, I would be a successful design architect. No, not even design, that’s too weird. I would be a successful architect with a wife and two kids and bought a house in Hong Kong in a skyscraper.

Erin: That was the path you were on?

Maggie: Yeah, that would be the destiny, the path for everybody.

Erin: And that would be easy for you because you were smart and you were disciplined?

Maggie: That would be, but that would still be hard. But, that would be easy in everybody’s perspective, but hard for me because I will be thinking, “what the hell am I?” And I can tell that if I keep on that path by 40s, my wife would find out that I am just wearing panties all the time. That would be huge fights and something … and I will be like, “I don’t know who I am…” (Laughing)

Erin: That happens to a lot of people.

Maggie: Yeah, and so I’d say, “it’s okay, it will be fine…”

Erin: You would say that to your wife?

Maggie: “It’s okay, I will not do that again …”

Erin: So, you fantasized the whole – you got married and then your wife found out …

Maggie: Yeah, that whole turn of events and then I come back here and I say, “now, I cannot take that path.”

Erin: So, do you think you were brave to make the decision that you made and go out on your own?

Maggie: Yeah. It was an insane decision.

Erin: It was an insane decision?

Maggie: So, how can buying paint in a Halloween store go that far? (Laughing) Yeah, just to buy a three dollar tube of face paint.

Erin: And you felt like you were a terrible sinner.

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: And what did you do with the face paint?

Maggie: You know like, silver face paint, in the middle of the night, green face paint … Okay, I will paint myself as a witch.

Erin: As a witch?

Maggie: Yeah, or something like that, yeah.

Erin: A witch is a powerful woman.

Maggie: Yeah. And then I would look at myself in the mirror and say, “what the fuck did I do?” But, when I did that, I was like, very enthusiastic…

Erin: Did your family ever find out that you would paint yourself?

Maggie: Nope.

Erin: You hid it?

Maggie: Yeah. I hid it so well. Yeah, even like a freakin’ three dollar tube of face paint. That’s the performance aspect of it and also the spiritual aspect of it.

Erin: The witchcraft is kind of a spiritual aspect?

Maggie: It’s kind of like the transformation … Like the … just doing something to become something else.

Erin: Like alchemy?

Maggie: Yeah, I mean, there is also the straightforward aspect of spirituality. Like, every time I pray, it’s like “God, please be nice to my mom. Let her be well. Let me get a good grade for my test. Don’t let me fail this exam.”

Erin: You used to pray like that?

Maggie: Yeah, it’s like I can’t pray in my head. I won’t talk to God about wearing … about thinking about myself having boobs … you know …

Erin: So, you would pray for the things that you thought you were supposed to pray for, but not for …

Maggie: Not, “supposed to pray for,” but, you know, good intention stuff. I try to avoid stuff that is like a sin.

Erin: But, you couldn’t pray, “God, please make me look the way I want to look?

Maggie: Exactly.

Erin: But, with witchcraft, you could, sort-of.

Maggie: Yeah. I didn’t even identify with witchcraft back then, but it was like a witch character.

Erin: But you do now?

Maggie with Closed Eyes
Archival Pigment Print
Edition of 8 and 2 Artist’s Proofs
30 x 42 Inches

Maggie: Yeah, yeah. And then for a long time I had no religion and no spirituality. It was more about me just trying to find myself in extreme ways. When I studied architecture … Architecture is a very spiritual subject in case a lot of people don’t know. My school is interesting (RISD). It’s like, when I started, I thought buildings are like giant penises across the skyline, but my school is not very pro-penis. (Laughing)

Erin: Your school doesn’t have that philosophy?

Maggie: Yeah, we build stuff that’s not about penises. You know, skyscrapers are actually pretty easy to design. They are all just these blank boxes – just a tube to hold a lot of boxes, almost like a whole column of sperm. It’s a tube of possibility that is undefined. Interesting … sorry, this story is so long. And then my school is a lot about thinking about architecture as something that exists in time because of the way it stands, it stands for permanence. And it lasts longer than us possibly. The power of the space in how it traverses time and air. That’s the quality that they were teaching and I was infected by that. I mean, that is pretty spiritual, if you think about what spirituality is about.

Erin: So, you had a degree in architecture that was sort of a foundation of a new kind of spirituality. Would you say that?

Maggie: Yes. You are really good at this… (Laughing)

Erin: So, I like all of the stuff that you are saying and I see that you are taking the hormones and your hair is dyed a rose color.

Maggie: Yeah, it’s rose colored.

Erin: So, clearly, you don’t have a conservative appearance. So, tell me about how you relate to your family now.

Maggie: I mean, my family is … they are pretty open and liberal in my opinion.

Erin: Really?

Maggie: Yeah, my parents work for the government and they’ve seen a lot of things. Like, they’ve seen the world. So, they know things. So, it’s like, she (mother) would nag me – “would you die your hair black for a while?”

Erin: Your mother would nag you?

Maggie: Yeah, for a while when I was young, but it’s totally fine, and I came out to them anyway.

Erin: You came out to them?

Maggie: Yeah, like five years ago.

Erin: So, the conservatism that you felt when you were younger – was that your family? Or did they change? Or was that more cultural?

Maggie: It was the whole place.

Erin: The whole city?

Maggie: I mean (they were) the more understanding people out of the whole conservative people.

Erin: So, your family is pretty liberal compared to the rest of Hong Kong?

Maggie: Yes. Exactly. So, I am very lucky. Yeah, to have parents who understand.

Erin: Do you still relate to your father in a normal way?

Maggie: Fuck him.

Erin: But, he’s not with your mother?

Maggie: No.

Erin: So, when you say your family, you are not talking about your real father?

Maggie: No. Just my mom and my sister and …

Erin: Did you come out to your father?

Maggie: Yeah, yeah. I emailed him at the same time.

Erin: You emailed him?

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: What did he say?

Maggie: Oh, he didn’t like it.

Erin: Yeah.

Maggie: Maybe he secretly wants to do that too. Whatever. I don’t care. I mean, he is like strongly, really strongly against it. He is like, “don’t take hormones…”

Erin: He is strongly against it?

Maggie: Yeah. He’s like, “you know it’s gonna make it harder for you to find a lover,” and stuff like that. So, I’m like, “thank you for making me even sadder,” you know.

Erin: Yeah. So, he’s not supportive. Did you confront him ever about … ?

Maggie: Well, they call criticism “support” in China.

Erin: Criticism is support?

Maggie: In China, yeah. You know. Bitter medicine is good for you.

Erin: Meaning, he has an interest in your well-being.

Maggie: Yeah, he has an interest in my well-being. I appreciate that. That he cares.

Erin: About how hard your life will be?

Maggie: Yeah.

Maggie and Erin in the Bathroom
Archival Pigment Print
Edition of 8 and 2 Artist’s Proofs
10 x 14 Inches

This interview was conducted after Maggie was transformed into her new female identity. The day before the transformation, we took Maggie shopping to help her find the outfit that would most suit her ideal female identity.

Erin: Okay, so today is part two, I guess, but it’s been lots of parts along the way. So tell me how you feel right now.

Maggie: I want to whip somebody…

Erin: You want to whip somebody?

Maggie: Yeah! (Laughing)

Erin: When did you start feeling like that?

Maggie: I was pissed off at my therapist for a while. Like a month ago…

Erin: Did you want to whip your therapist?

Maggie: That’s on ongoing joke I have with my friend, but no… (Laughing)

Erin: How do you feel right now when you look in the mirror?

Maggie: I can’t see myself. That adds to the frustration. I don’t see myself. I don’t know what I am, but that’s okay.

Erin: You look amazing. You look really powerful. You look like a dominatrix, but not just a dominatrix. You look like a shockingly beautiful tall dominatrix.

Maggie: Thank you (Laughing)

Erin: Let’s go back. Now you have these flogger things. Is that what makes you want to whip someone – the fact that you’re holding those?

Maggie: It’s heavy. They could kill someone.

Erin: How about the boots?

Maggie: My toes are hurting now, but it’s okay.

Erin: Do you like them?
Maggie: I like them.

Erin: Why do you like them?

Maggie: They’re so tight. I feel like they’re a part of my skin. I can wear them on my bed or walking around and they feel really good. Tight and confortable. Wearing something close to the skin…

Erin: Something held in?

Maggie: Yeah, feeling like you’re held together by something.

Erin: And the corset?

Maggie: Yeah, same. That also makes me think, damn, what a nice shape I have.

Erin: It gives you a real waist… So, tell me more about wanting to beat something. I want you to elaborate on that because you said you wanted to talk about why you were angry.

Maggie: Yeah, remember I was telling you guys the first day – I used to be submissive, but before the meeting, the night before, I had a dream and I switched. It’s really weird.

Erin: The night before the first time meeting?

Maggie: It’s like nothing really to do with you guys, although talking about it does make the idea more concrete than just being in my head. All of a sudden I realized I am fantasizing and masturbating to the idea of being dominate instead of submissive because I am sick of being submissive.

Erin: You’re sick of it?

Maggie: Yeah, I’m sick of being pushed around by fate in general.

Erin: By fate?

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: And Not to get into sexual fantasy, but it seems relevant that you are turned on by the idea of reversing that and becoming dominant. What is the scenario that comes in your mind? Is it you and another person? What kind of person is it? Is it random people? Tell me about what it really is that sparks the sexual energy in you in terms of what you just said with the dominance.

Maggie: Damn, it seems so sexist to talk about it, but dominating men is something. My therapist is a guy and I got so pissed off in one session. I used to be that during a session I would just tell him everything like it is – like what happened during the week. For a few of the sessions I got so depressed. I just don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want to fix myself. I just come here to feel that I’m still living. I don’t want anyone to fix me. I don’t want him to fix me. I can’t get over the fact that I can’t accept the idea of a guy trying to fix me.

Erin: A male therapist?

Maggie: Yeah, which I wish I could get over myself, and that’s probably something to work on, but whatever. The idea is something that is not acceptable to me and I find repulsive.

Erin: It’s repulsive that you would have a man trying to fix you?

Maggie: Yeah. For a few sessions, I didn’t want to talk about anything and he kept pushing me to open up and I finally flipped and got really pissed off.

Erin: You told him you were mad?

Maggie: Yeah, I told him I was mad and I just wanted silence for one time. I didn’t want to talk for one session; I just wanted to sit with somebody because I’m lonely and I don’t want to talk about feelings. I’m sick of listening to myself.

Erin: He wanted you to tell him how you were a failure and that pissed you off?

Maggie: Yeah…

Erin: Let’s go back to the sexual fantasy. Okay, you want to dominate a man. So, tell
me what you would do to him that would make you feel dominate to him. Tell me about the story of what happens. Make one up right now.

Maggie: I don’t know – somebody sucking me right now… (laughing)

Erin: Sucking your dick?

Maggie: A lot of them. Yeah.
Erin: A lot of men sucking your…

Maggie: Yeah.

Maggie as Domme (No. I)
Archival Pigment Print
Edition of 8 and 2 Artist’s Proofs
30 x 42 Inches

Erin: But this rubber one, not your real one?

Maggie: Real is fine, if they’re worthy (laughing)

Erin: If they’re worthy? What would make them worthy?

Maggie: I can’t tell yet. Maybe somebody who actually cares, rather than just indulging in their own desires and pleasures. They would care about pleasuring me as well.

Erin: What would they do?

Maggie: You can tell. You can feel the energy. It’s not what they do…

Erin: Who would the ideal man be to serve you?

Maggie: I feel like I would get repulsed if they get too close. That’s something that I need to get over. I like to be cuddled by somebody and I like to cuddle someone, but if it’s a guy doing that to me, I would feel threatened in a way.

Erin: By being cuddled?

Maggie: Yeah, it brings back nightmares. It doesn’t feel safe, but then that’s my head thinking. I don’t think there would be an ideal guy.

Erin: But if a guy came in here right now and crawled up to you and begged to suck you, that’s not threatening?

Maggie: Yeah, go for it.

Erin: Did I just put words in your mouth?

Maggie: (Laughing)

Erin: I’m just saying, you’re dressed as a dominatrix…

Maggie: If it’s someone submissive, that would be permissible.

Erin: If they try to become equal with you then it’s threatening and repulsive?

Maggie: Yeah, I don’t think I can take that easily. That’s something that I need to explore in terms of identity.

Erin: As you were getting ready, I could almost see a different character come into you. You began to act like you had something to prove, in a good way. I don’t know if that is just your mood today, or do you think putting on this costume and becoming this character sort of brings something different out of you.

Maggie: It’s exciting. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time. It’s good to be able to do this in a safe environment. It’s a good opportunity.

Erin: I know you don’t want to be a professional dominatrix for various reasons, but would you consider being a non-professional? There are a lot of men that want to be beaten and spit on. They do. They advertise for it. Would you do it?

Maggie: Just thinking about that makes me horny. (Laughing)

Erin: There are a lot of forums for stuff like that. There are parties that you go to where everyone is roleplaying all together. It’s in the open and there’s no danger.

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: So, I was on OkCupid and all of a sudden you pop up there, so tell me about that.

Maggie: God… (Laughing)

Erin: You found me on OkCupid. I want to know what you listed yourself as and how that experience has been…

Maggie: The only difference is I just put up my picture and all of a sudden there a forty people messaging me in a day.

Erin: And you’re listed as a straight woman?

Maggie: A bi woman.

Erin: A bi female.

Maggie: Yeah.

Erin: And what are most of the messages like that you get?

Maggie: I can’t tell what I’m interested in. I don’t seem to be interested in any of them. Forty of them are all men, and you can’t judge someone from one sentence, like saying “hi,” but I don’t have a real desire to meet somebody because I’m shy. I get easily influenced by people and easily become the mode of some image that I visualize for myself. That’s dangerous, but that makes me stagnant and not wanting to try anything. There’s an irony to that. Is that what I want?

Erin: What is ironic?

Maggie: There’s an irony that I can now safely browse OkCupid with my picture without feeling guilty and nervous about it. That was a fight that I had with my ex and that’s why we didn’t get married.

Erin: You didn’t get married because of what?

Maggie: Because she gets really mad and jealous over any desires over anything other than her. That caused huge fights. All I want is a little bit of freedom to try different things.

Erin: And you have that freedom now?

Maggie: Yes, I have that freedom. What can I do with it? I can’t see to do anything with it yet.

Erin: It seems like you’re taking small steps in some direction.

Maggie: That’s the irony of things. Now I am on the path to try something different, so I might as well take it to the extreme. (Laughing and thrashing the flogger around)

Gray: I want to know what it feels like.

Erin: It feels really good, actually. You should beat him (Gray). Beat his back really hard. Gray, go like this. It feels like a massage.

Maggie: Take of your sweater.

Gray: I need it. I feel it. Ouch.

Erin: You can’t be brutal. You have to warm up. It’s not about your anger. It’s about giving.

Maggie: I know.

Maggie as Domme (No. II)
Archival Pigment Print
Edition of 8 and 2 Artist’s Proofs
30 x 42 Inches

Erin: You have to give the experience (Flogging) from your power and not from your anger.

Maggie: It’s good to have control over my power.

Erin: Yes, you’re very powerful. Look at you. You’re amazing.

Maggie: Gray, what did you do wrong today? (Laughing)

Erin: Gray, you’re going to go to heaven for this…

Maggie: (Laughing and still beating Gray)

Erin: Does it hurt, Gray?

Gray: No, but just the look of it freaks me out a little. I feel like you’re about to rip me in half.

Maggie: It’s the anger behind it.

Gray: I trust Erin … I can take it on my hand really hard.

Erin: Just get into a rhythm.

Gray: It’s like hopscotch?

Erin. Lean over …

Gray: What part of this transformation of coming in wearing your everyday clothes and then adorning yourself in this most affected your mood and made you happier?

Maggie: I feel like I’m becoming something.

Gray: Yeah?

Maggie: Well, I was asked by Erin to bring something empowering as part of my outfit, but at this point in my life, I don’t want to buy any more things. I don’t want my willpower to depend on an external object, even though that’s a cool idea. I’ve realized that my own body is the only thing I really have control over, and I can do whatever the hell I want with my body. I can dress it up. I can wear makeup. I put makeup on my face and get my outfit together and that can get me somewhere, rather than just stagnant. Yes, please! I want to be safe, but stagnancy is not something I need right now. I need to get over it.

Erin: Tell me about the military hat.

Maggie: I’ve had this for a long time. It is part of my dominatrix costume. I have been collecting leather stuff for a long time, but always just wearing it at my house. This is good. I have an audience of two and that’s awesome! I feel like that is what makes me happy because I’m finally doing it outside of my house. It’s like I’m coming out, again.

Erin: And being photographed.

Maggie: And being pretty.

Erin & Gray: Yes!

Maggie: I feel like I’m the captain. It’s menacing.

Erin: and cute. So, what is the name of your character now? What is your dominatrix name?

Maggie: We talked about Ivon, but ehhh…

Erin: Right, it’s not good enough. Not that I see you, it’s got to be hellish.

Maggie: (Laughing)

Erin: You don’t have a name, but as this character, what do you have to teach to men? If you had a big audience of men sitting in front of you right now, what would you tell them?

Maggie: Fuck you all! (Laughing)

Erin: You’re going to stand up and look at them and they going to say, “tell us something important… we worship you and want to lick your feet…” What would you say?

Maggie: I don’t have words?

Erin: How would you stand? Maybe you would just stand there and laugh at them… maybe spit on them.

Maggie: Fuck you all… (Laughing)

Erin: Fuck you all… Alright, that’s a wrap.

Maggie: Thank you!

Erin & Gray: Thank you!

Maggie in the Kitchen
Archival Pigment Print
Edition of 8 and 2 Artist’s Proofs
10 x 14 Inches