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Over 30 Years Ago, Photographer Mariette Pathy Allen Set Out to De-Freakify Cross-Dressing

mariette-pathy-allenPaula and Daughter, Rachel

It was 1978 in New Orleans on the last day of Mardi Gras when photographer Mariette Pathy Allen happened upon a group of crossdressing men in a hotel—a chance encounter that would lead to a multi-decade exploration of the transgender community. Shot throughout the 1980s, Transformations compiles portraits of crossdressers in their homes and with their loved ones in an attempt to offer society a different view of a group that had been quite mis-characterized at the time. Allen was a pioneering powerhouse at the inception of this work, which was published into a book in 1989. She has since continued to inspire gender consciousness with the publication of her second book, The Gender Frontier that compiles photographs, interviews, and essays exploring political activism and transgender youth. Allen has also been a valuable consultant to several films about gender and sexuality over the years.

marietteChange shoes, change gender

mariette-pathy-allenBeth and her husband, Rita, near Boston

mariette-pathy-allenSheila, crying in church, Provincetown, MA

mariette-pathy-allenVicky doing the can can with Cori and Julia, L.I., NY

mariette-pathy-allenDavida and Diane, couple

mariette-pathy-allenRachel, watching her father transform into Paula, Philadelphia

mariette-pathy-allenJoanne and sister, Claudia

mariette-pathy-allenDan and Yvonne, reversed couple

mariette-pathy-allenPajama party

mariette-pathy-allenLine up, Mardi Gras, New Orleans. The moment I started on my exploration.



  • How good to see these wonderful photos of old friends once again!
    Makes one wonder…where are they now? (Those still living)

    Mariette, accolades for all your great work.

  • This work shows a deep inner beauty, pride and joy that is so often overlooked when the world looks at this community as pure spectacle. I love that she’s been doing this for as long as she has, dedicated to honoring these awesome people.

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