On First Look Pranks

first look, trend, harmful, trans, wedding

[Image description: A pink background has a black circle with white text in it that reads: “Wedding photographers: People perceived as men in dresses are not a joke. Advocate for the trans community by no longer perpetuating or posting transantagonistic first look ‘prank’ trends.”]

Recently, there was a post in a wedding photography Facebook group with a photo of a groomsman in a wedding dress as a first look “prank.” I’ve posted in the past about how “wedding norms” like first looks could use some rethinking in general.

When photographers are first look “pranks” of presumably cisgender men in wedding dresses and the response is laughter, each “like” reaction is harming the trans community.

I felt compelled to share in the group that when trans women and gender nonconforming individuals wear dresses as part of their gender expression, there are almost always repercussions. In the trans community, trans women are oftentimes viewed as a joke, when they aren’t being depicted as dangerous. The documentary “Disclosure” on Netflix goes into this way better than I ever could and explains how these stereotypes can be deadly.

Some people responded saying they wanted to comment on the original post and that they had the same thoughts. Others said that they had never thought of it as harmful but would reconsider it in the future. The latter I understand–you can’t change what you don’t know. But the former really stung. Folks knew better, but they chose to stay silent. That moment of discomfort is where they drew the line in the sand to put their self-preservation first.

I’ve been in their shoes, and sometimes embarrassingly, still am. It’s a non-confrontational, fear-based response that I have to work on every day to uproot. Facebook is a magnet for this type of transantagonism and it can feel overwhelming to challenge, knowing what the comments section looks like for articles on trans liberation.

How often are we speaking up?

Something @moemotivate asks as a reflection question continues to resonate. “How often are you speaking up and advocating for [marginalized communities] in ways that make you uncomfortable, put you at risk in some way, and/or without an audience or public recognition?”

If you’ve found yourself wanting to vocalize your values, but getting stuck in the action, I encourage you to find folks in the community who are similarly motivated to make change. This kind of work is bigger than ourselves and our own discomfort. We have to commit to moving forward and making change together.

Check out my TikTok series of harmful wedding trends here, where I dig deeper into this discussion.

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