Tuesday, March 13, 2012

2008 Best Picture Story - Becoming Cynthia

The words of photographer extraordinaire Corey Perrine in the Nashua Telegraph January 1, 2009

Nashua Telegraph, NH, USA

On Assignment

Dec 31 2008

Becoming Cynthia - Best Picture Story 2008 - Corey Perrine

Filed under Uncategorized by corey at 11:49 pm

The origins of the project began when I wrote down a list projects I'd
like to cover in the upcoming year in 2008. I always make lists. Lists
that contain ideas to educate the community. Lists to educate myself.
I usually try to choose topics that intrigue me, not necessarily
topics that stir controversy. They are usually issues I would like to
know more about so I can formulate my own opinion. Issues to bridge
the confusion gap among the masses. I remember seeing an episode of
Oprah or one of those daytime talk shows that featured a male to
female doctor in Maine. I contacted her and she referred me to Boston
Medical. I got in touch with a doctor there but no good leads. I
shared my idea with writer Karen Lovett, I knew the second she heard
about it she was in love. I was enthusiastic too, but she ran with it.
Within about two or three weeks of hunting Karen found the perfect
individual, Cynthia.

I have to admit, a story like this only comes by once in a lifetime.
And Cynthia, is a once in a lifetime person. Yes, there is no hiding
it, the more I came to discover Cynthia as a person and her ordeal,
the more I sympathized with her and grew fond of her. She was a once
shy man now a confident woman. However, she had one last step to make.

I wasn't sure what to expect it to be like in Montreal. I had a few
shoots with Cynthia before leaving for Canada and knew we would get
along throughout her story, her process. The Mod Chick Mafia was very
boisterous to say the least. They definitely were the original
Get-along-gang. Karen and I drove up there in about four to five hours
and we checked into our hotel. We ate dinner that night, gathered and
asked questions. I had a few equipment malfunctions but made due with
what I had. I will never forget the look of Cynthia's face the last
day she was with her crew because she knew she'd come a man and leave
a woman.

Karen arranged for us to have access weeks before arriving but as
always, life is never as you plan. Dr. Brassard at first said, "No,"
to us being there for the actual operation but after showing him the
newspaper and telling him exactly the intent of us being there he
graciously let us into his operating room. I don't blame him, he has
experienced bad press in the past but I think he knew we had a
different purpose.

Watching the eyes of Cynthia that morning was nerve-wracking. I almost
thought she'd either be sick or get cold feet. But oh no, she lived up
to the hype. After her last few goodbyes, she was in the room and on
the operating table. They attacked her from all sides, as she
described, a NASCAR pit crew. They injected her from her nose to her

The ambiance was unlike I'd expect. It was relaxed, laid back and
nothing like television. Each incision was clean and precise. It was
not bloody or gory. It was more like Discovery Channel, informational.
The sounds of French music, rag time and jitterbug music came smoothly
over the sound system. The workers were fast, efficient and diligent.
It was like clockwork. Next thing you know it's over. I remember them
taking the tubes out of Cynthia, her first words were, "Where's Corey?
Where's Karen?" Her voice was a bit distorted from the tubing being in
her throat but I made out the words.

The coming weeks were for needed recovery. We both wanted to continue
her story from a personal perspective but Cynthia decided not to let
her mother into the picture. You see, Cynthia lives with her mom and
felt it would not be a good idea to let her know the media was telling
her story to the world. I could tell she wanted us to continue to
document but that wouldn't happen in her personal space, her home. We
both understood.

The results of this work gained recognition on YouTube, got Cynthia an
interview with Canada's press wire service and a few speaking
engagements. It also informed the public. It also got some
subscriptions canceled. It also got some mean comments posted to the

Okay, for the record, I belong to a pretty conservative church.
However, on a personal level, I'm pretty middle of the road. I have my
conservative elements as well as my liberal. The glass is neither half
empty or half full, it's just half :)

So, the comments made and subscriptions canceled just baffled me. I
was surprised at the negative feedback telling us this was not news. I
think to the people who said those things or canceled their papers,
need to digest this story the most. I won't go too much further but
it's just sad to see people defaulting to ignorance. Coexistence is
always the best policy even if you disagree.

I think the thing I'm most proud of is I've made an unexpected
lifelong friend. I'm also proud of the message and knowledge we've
spread and will continue to spread. I think I grew from this
assignment the most this year. The greatest lesson learned?
Transgendered individuals are people, just like you and me.

My View On MySpace

Unbeknown to Corey Perrine, I had written the majority of my last blog yesterday (12/30/08). Thankfully my words were nice ones, LOL. Today out of the blue, I got an e-mail from him. The first in months. Then a few text messages. I was afraid he was deleting what I consider precious photos. He wasn't.


He was doing another project and needed some more information. This was prior to posting the latest blog (written yesterday).

It sucks, just as I was really getting to know Corey the person, as opposed to Corey the photographer, the Telegraph project came to an abrupt close. But thanks to the information age, we'll always be in contact.

It was my job to teach him, but by the end, I think he taught me more. A lot more.

Thanks Corey

No comments:

Post a Comment