Trans photo editor offers gender-affirming edits of pre-transition photos

Gender Carpentry
(Image credit: Gender Carpentr/ Andrea Carpenter)

A transgender photographer from the US has started to offer gender-affirming photo edits. Andrea Carpenter, from St Johns, Michigan, started the editing business Gender Carpentry after editing herself in a prom photo to look female in an attempt to feel more comfortable looking back on old memories. 

Carpenter describes her editing process as “A gender-confirming change to a memory” in which she takes an old photo – taken pre-transition – and applies edits to make it align with the person’s current gender. Having gone through the discomfort and pain families experience with transitioning firsthand, Andrea wanted to provide a service that would help people hold onto cherished memories. 

• Check out the best photo editing software including Photoshop, Lightroom and Capture One

In an interview with CBC News, Carpenter said, “When I transitioned about eight years ago, my family decided to put away all the photos of me from around the house from before, and it was kind of painful and uncomfortable for everybody at the time, but I didn't like seeing them go into a little box in the closet and start to gather dust."

Andrea describes how she realized other people could benefit from the process. “When I saw what I looked like after I finished [my] first edit, and seeing [myself] the way in which I could’ve looked at the time, I was kind of breath taken, and I felt more at peace. And then I started thinking 'I know so many people who could benefit from this.'"

Gender dysphoria is complex and confusing for the person experiencing a sense of unease between their biological gender and their gender identity. A study from June 2022 by UCLA's Williams Institute estimated that 1.64 million people aged over 13 in the US identify as transgender, including 300,000 13- to 17-year-olds.

For lots of these people, looking back on old photos is a reminder of a time when they experienced mental health issues, low self-esteem, and felt socially isolated. Gender Carpentry can help to alleviate that stress without discarding all memories before transitioning.

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Hannah Rooke
Staff Writer

Having studied Journalism and Public Relations at the University of the West of England Hannah developed a love for photography through a module on photojournalism. She specializes in Portrait, Fashion and lifestyle photography but has more recently branched out in the world of stylized product photography. For the last 3 years Hannah has worked at Wex Photo Video as a Senior Sales Assistant using her experience and knowledge of cameras to help people buy the equipment that is right for them. With 5 years experience working with studio lighting, Hannah has run many successful workshops teaching people how to use different lighting setups.