Robin Rayne

I started working on newspapers in 1975, moving on to magazines and picture agencies in 1984. That’s where my life (and career) took a turn.

In 1993, after decades of inner anguish, fear, and depression, I began the years-long emotional roller coaster of gender transition from ‘him’ to ‘her,’ keeping my given name, which fortunately worked for both.

‘She’ was there all along, but the working world saw ‘him’ until 1995. 

I made the scary trip to NYC in 1996 as ‘me’ when hormone therapy made it so I could no longer hide, and all the editors I’d worked with previously seemed fine with the new pronouns. At least to my face. 

The reality was that my transition sent my photojournalism career on the dirt roads rather than the expressway.  I may have been seen as an embarrassment by editors who once loved my work. I stayed in the business because I was passionate about the craft of telling stories, and I have picture agency editors who valued my work and perspectives. I learned to weather rejection, and ultimately it made me a better journalist. 

Today, my gender transition is no longer an issue but the scars from mocking and rejection never really go away. I was part of a ‘silent generation’ of my own, I guess. 

The net gain, aside from living and working with authenticity, is that I’ve experienced this craft from both sides of the gender divide. 

I don’t misappropriate what other women in this business have experienced. I take great care to avoid misrepresentation.  I have experiences of my own that they may not fully appreciate either. Guys certainly don’t get it. 

I share this to be totally transparent and am open about my experiences; while I don’t totally fit the strict definition of your list, I’ve never been in the ‘boys club’ either.  

As society evolves, my gender transition seems less of an issue. A wise photographer friend said ‘just be who you are, editors will hire you for your skills as a storyteller, that’s all that should matter’.