Overarchingly, humanity has spent years trying to stifle and even disguise human variation as if it is shameful and embarrassing, instead of an asset to be celebrated. One of the reasons I love photography so much is that it enables me to be part of the many in our culture who are challenging these viewpoints.  This particular young lady embodies so much of what I feel that movement stands for!

This is the second time I have had the pleasure of photographing this kiddo. Two years ago I photographed Brady. This year I had the pleasure of photographing Tianna.

Girl poses in Midtown Park for a photo

Tianna is 7 years old and I want to let her tell her own story in her own time, but I do think she has so much to teach us already. So much so that her mamma and I wanted to share her with you as part of The Diversity Series. Her bravery, her authenticity, her vibrancy, her resilience are all shining at just 7. She recognized she didn’t feel comfortable with who she was and, even harder, she vocalized it. It is so fortunate for her that she has an incredible support system who listens to and supports her (words from mamma are below!).  So many of us adults struggle with being true to ourselves and here she is showing us how it is done before she even hits a decade!

A girl poses with a This is Me sign for a photo shoot in

To get to know Tianna, the girl that loves everything glitter and sparkle (and it shows!), a little better I asked her a few questions! Here are her responses:

How old are you? 7 years

What are your two favorite hobbies? Dancing & Singing

What do you love most about school? Recess and lunch

Who is your favorite band/artist? JoJo Siwa

Do you have any pets? If so, what are they and what are their names? Yes – Rabbit named Richard and Puppy named Lucy.

Tell me one special thing about you! I love all parts of performing – singing, dancing, costumes, making props, special effects, lighting

Anything mom (Tracey) might want to tell us about “A day in the life of Rae”. You never know what “A day in the life of Tianna” will hold because of her huge imagination, creativity, and lively spirit! There is never a dull (or quiet) moment in our life but I love it!

A girl leans on her mothers map during a Mommy and Me shoot in Midtown Charlotte NC

The mission behind The Diversity Series is to celebrate the little nuances and distinctions that make us unique while demonstrating how we are all just HUMAN. Want to learn more about the why and how of this project? Jump on over to the blog Introducing The Diversity Series to learn more!

A girl poses for a photo at the fountain along Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Midtown Charlotte
Mom and daughter pose for a photo along Little Sugar Creek Greenway in Charlotte NC

I asked Tianna’s mom, Tracie if she could give any advice to parents helping their children tackle similar issues and without hesitation, she had the following to say: 

The biggest advice is to just love them! Always have open and honest communication and always have that “safe space” where anything can be said or discussed. It took 18 years for my miracle and even when I got pregnant I asked God for a boy because I couldn’t do glitter and tutus…. well, I got both! I always knew she was unique from her choices and likes and just initially pulling her T-shirt around her waist to make a skirt. I just allowed her to explore and she’d ask if she could wear heels to school and I said no, it’s a safety issue. She asked if she could wear a T-shirt dress to school and I said no, those were “costumes”. Looking back I feel bad for not listening more to what she was really saying. I always knew some day she’d be something different but never thought she could articulate until she was older. I was sooooo wrong! Even the new pediatrician we saw this past week who is also trans said actually as young as 3 or 4. The process and the conversations have truly been amazing! While I’ve had to grieve the son I had, to watch this beautiful girl blossom in front of me and truly be free and happy has been indescribable and amazing!

Girl leans on a large reflective ball in Midtown Park Charlotte NC.
A girl poses in Midtown Park for her photo shoot with Charlotte cityscape in the background.

The installment of The Diversity Series was held in Midtown Park with the gorgeous Uptown Charlotte serving as the backdrop. Photos of Tianna were also captured along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway that runs into Midtown Park.

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