Pioneering Voices

The photo "Rob and Julie" is part of the "Pioneering Voices: Portraits of Transgender People" exhibit at the Jackson Public Library throughout October. (COURTESY PHOTO)

JACKSON — "Pioneering Voices: Portraits of Transgender People," a touring photo-text display created by the award-winning Family Diversity Projects of Amherst, Mass., is on display at the Jackson Public Library through October as part of the One Book One Valley celebration.

This year, the featured book for One Book One Valley is "Becoming Nicole," by Amy Ellis-Nutt. The book follows the journey of the Maines family as they raise their adopted twin boys, Jonas and Wyatt. And then their struggle over Wyatt’s insistence that he was female began to tear the family apart. In the years that followed, the Maineses came to question their long-held views on gender and identity, to accept Wyatt’s transition to Nicole, and to undergo a wrenching transformation of their own, the effects of which would reverberate through their entire community.

"Pioneering Voices," with photographs by Jack Pierson and Gigi Kaeser and interviews edited by Peggy Gillespie and Jack Pierson, introduces people who identify as transgender or gender queer, and their partners and children. Through first-person interviews and color photographs, this exhibit seeks to challenge damaging myths and stereotypes about transgender people, and to educate viewers about this often marginalized group of people and the challenges they face.

"Pioneering Voices" travels nationwide to schools (kindergarten through 12), colleges, public libraries, workplaces, houses of worship, seminaries, conferences, museums and communities nationwide. This exhibit is a valuable catalyst for bullying prevention and anti-bias education for young people and adults.

Family Diversity Projects is a non-profit educational organization founded by exhibit creators, Peggy Gillespie (interviewer/editor) and Gigi Kaeser (photographer). They have created seven photo-text exhibits (three of which have been published in book form, including "Love Makes a Family: Portraits of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People and their Families") to help eliminate prejudice, stereotyping and harassment of people discriminated against due to race, national origin, sexual orientation, religion, gender, class and disability.

The mission of Family Diversity Projects is to propel forward a world where all people and family structures are recognized, valued and fully supported.

The Jackson Public Library is proud to have partnered with the Jackson Community Church to bring the exhibit to the area.

“I wanted to offer an opportunity for folks who may not feel comfortable attending one of our programs to come and meet these people and contemplate their stories,” Library Director Lichen Rancourt said.

For more information about "Pioneering Voices" and Family Diversity Projects, go to familydiv.org.

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