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(...) Dazzling is a portrait project that documents an amateur transit circuit. Transit is a self-described term used to define the men/women who are involved in various levels of gender transformation at the pageant. The subjects are primarily African American and the Pageant is held in a rented building converted into a temporary bar in the town of Fairfield, Alabama, a previously white steel town outside of Birmingham, Alabama, whose population is now 90.23% African American.
I am fascinated by the transformations that occur, it is not just sexual identity but at times a transformation into a complete persona and a totally developed character. Often times the identities are bigger and brighter than the fragile male persona that is evident when they are not dressed, which I have also photographed. When the men are dressed, they become silent and voiceless. They don’t speak because their male voices break the spell of who they are trying to be. It is also a population that is under educated and they are able to supplement their eight dollar an hour day jobs with tips from their performances. (...)
Sonja Rieger, April 2010