"No matter who you are or what you do, people are going to either like you or dislike you. But you might as well let those that like you, like you for authentically being you. That will give you all the peace of mind you need." - Shawn
An early moon rises in the pale sky over a circling of sparse trees. Reaching towards thin fuzzy clouds, pines and maples brush arms in a tangle of twigs. Enjoying the haunting stillness, Shawn Rosiah Bernier roams the abandoned space like a boy wiser than his years. Accepting the harsh textures of a wiry chain link fence and the ridged grip of the bleachers, 19-year-old Shawn ruminates his past and muses what's up ahead. An arrow of gulls points North while Shawn discusses with photographers Jenny and Allie his history and life as a Haitian American transgender activist. Walking along walls and swinging from trees, Shawn lets his feet carry him forward and faces whatever comes his way.
Married photo team Jenny and Allie are always searching for powerful stories within the queer community to share with others. Stumbling across Shawn’s YouTube channel where he documents his experiences as a transgender man and often answers questions from his audience, Jenny and Allie knew this was a story they wanted to share. Beginning his transition in 7th grade and joining many sports teams in school including the men’s basketball team and American football team while hailing from a small town in Boston, the road hasn’t always been easy for Shawn. But nothing can dim that captivating smile or stifle his addictive laugh.
Jenny and Allie’s primary goal within their photography is to share queer stories that show strength and the ability to experience happiness. In their early 30s and still figuring out gender themselves, the couple appreciates the availability of a resource like Shawn’s YouTube channel. Identifying as non-binary, Jenny (she/they) has found information from social media and internet comments which answer questions they’ve had their whole life. Jenny and Allie believe having access to information like the knowledge provided by Shawn’s YouTube videos and Instagram would have been incredibly valuable to the pair when they were younger. Fractured light ricochets off delicate windowpanes and a hazy glow warms the greenhouse as Jenny and Allie ask Shawn if people ever reach out to him for questions, advice, or gratitude for sharing his experience. His answer? Every day. All the time.
As the shoot wraps up and the dipping sun casts long shadows over the field, serenity settles upon the group as the sky bends before the sunset splinters the horizon. Beauty watches beauty in a motionless embrace. If you want to learn more about Shawn and his journey you can find his YouTube channel, while you can find more beautiful stories by Jenny and Allie on their website.