“When I left school, I thought OK, I’ll teach myself how to be a man,” Bea tells me. “I’ve been a mechanic, a security guard, a bouncer, a private investigator, a bailiff and a high court sheriff.”

Fast-forward to November 2017 and Bea is accepting the crown for Miss Transgender UK 2017/18 in Brighton. Taking centre-stage she says: “Growing up I didn’t know ‘trans’ was a thing, so I carried on being a boy. I gave up the fight of being a boy four years ago – the toughest and the best thing I’ve ever done.”

The project title, Not a ‘girly girl’, came from Bea’s constant wrangle in ‘having’ to define herself against other people’s expectations of a model, a pageant queen, a transwoman, a woman full stop.

The original idea of the project was to share Bea’s personal experiences, taking a documentary approach, to challenge stereotypes and tell her story from her point of view. As our collaboration developed, the project started to include some more ‘conceptual’ shots – for example Bea posing in a ballgown with a gun. The photo is her statement as to who she is, complete with different dimensions, and an “F you” to people who think she should conform in any way. 

“When I see the work,” says Bea. “I don’t see a story from someone that has followed me, I see a story created by someone who knows me. It’s so genuine and honest. I can say ‘that’s me’. That’s my life.”

The full story is published in issue 7 of Amber Magazine, available online and at independent magazine stores.
The magazine, unbelievably, is produced by ONE woman – Amber Schormans. It’s 128 pages full of powerful stories and imagery gathered from artists all over the world, and is a ‘beauty’ retouching free space. Have a peek below!

Thank you Bea for sharing your story, and thank you Amber for the stunning layout.