Gabriele's self-portrait, 2008.
"It’s hard to talk about my experience. It’s about four months that I abandoned all the stuff about transition, gender and so on. I can’t remember my thoughts and feelings back then, and, in a way it’s sad, because I’ve passed three years trying not to be a boy. When I look back, I see a very scared person. Scared about life, emotions, integration of all sorts. Trying to escape from all this bombing of reality.
I was eighteen years old back then, and in five minutes that decision changed my life completely. But I don’t want to talk about those five minutes. I was just trying to forget. External causes. Blood, anger, violence. I couldn’t stand being a male.
Now I see myself and yes, I’m much happier. But I’m exhausted."
I have photographed Gabriele-Milena once a month since he started his gender transition, three years ago. He came to my house and I helped him take self-portraits as well. I saw him becoming a woman, month after month: his voice was changing, his facial features softening, his breasts growing. After a while he started to look extremely uneasy and enraged. We talked a lot, but he was locked up in himself. The photographs were becoming boring, always the same empty attitude, so I decided to stop. Last week, one year after, I called him: he told me there were big changes: he’d stopped transition. He told me “I feel so lucky… I’m the only man in the world who’s experienced being a woman”. I think Milena is still inside him, and will be forever, helping him to be a sensitive, intuitive and wise man.
Below, self-portrait as Milena, 2006.