I was once asked this question from an anonymous follower of my blog: "Why so many selfies?" The same question has been asked of other transgender women that post about their transitions.
Let's assume that this was an innocent question for a moment and give it a simple answer:
I take lots of selfies because my body is slowly starting to match the sense of self that has always been there. I post some of them along with the narratives that I write about my life because both the photos and the narrative give hope to other transgender people. My website (arianadanielle.com) and my blog are for them, it is not for anyone who wants to look at transgender women for "other" purposes. The feedback I receive from other transgender or non-binary people is amazing and it lifts me up, so I benefit from sharing my story as well (see the bottom of my home page for samples of the support I receive from other people like me).
"I take lots of selfies because my body is slowly starting to match the sense of self that has always been there."
Beyond this simple answer, is a more complex one that I hope takes on yet another stereotype of transgender women.
You see, a funny thing happened once my outside started to match my inside. I began to love myself again. I have gone from being in a 242 lb dysphoria inducing body that was pre-diabetic and condemned to being on cholesterol medication, to living in a body that is healthy, happy and dare I say growing more beautiful by the day. Now, the stereotype is that transgender women are narcissistic. Apparently we only want attention, and that is the only reason why we post pictures on the internet. As I mentioned above, we are putting our stories and our pictures out there to support each other and to present ourselves accurately. Imagine turning on the nightly news and having a politician or a pastor demonize you on a national news story when they know nothing about you. THAT IS WHAT WE FACE. The nightly news, movies, radio programs, authors and bloggers all misrepresent us. We are not able to trust anyone else to tell our stories, so many of us have chosen to do it ourselves.
"A funny thing happened once my outside started to match my inside. I began to love myself again."
"But you just said 'I began to love myself again,' which makes you narcissistic" -- If this is what you may be thinking at this point, my response would be to point you to a dictionary.
Narcissism means: excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one's physical appearance. This is not the same thing as having a healthy love of yourself or in finding joy in walking a path that is difficult but leads to extreme growth. I tie a few photos to every post that I write. It captures a moment in time. It shows how I looked that day and it captures the subtle tension in my face or the lack thereof. It captures the joy in my face of finding acceptance from yet another family member or friend. It can capture confidence and courage that I may need to look for again on a bad day. For me, it also shows me the evolution of my makeup skills over time and reminds me of things that I probably should not try again.
People that call out women for being narcissistic do so from a very misogynistic viewpoint. This misogynistic attitude purports that women are not allowed to call attention to their beauty and are not allowed to think of themselves as beautiful. If a girl is complimented on her looks and says anything other than "thank you" then she is seen as being narcissistic. She can be told she is beautiful, but she better not think she is beautiful on her own. This is of course, complete and utter garbage.
Women, whether transgender or not, are beautiful and have the right to love themselves for who they are. They have the right to share their stories with those who draw encouragement from their experiences.
Stop calling women narcissistic for having confidence and for sharing that confidence.
This post is part of HuffPost's Journey Beyond the Binary blog series, an editorial effort to bring diverse trans and gender non-conforming voices to the HuffPost Blog during and after Pride month. As the LGBTQIA community celebrates great strides forward this June, it's important to acknowledge the struggles still pertinent to trans and gender variant members of the community. Please email any pitches to email@example.com