Vice’s Broadly, a site that centres around the lives and experiences of women, LGBT individuals and gender non-conforming people, has launched a new, free stock image library of gender-inclusive photography
If you have ever tried using a stock image site, chances are, you will have experienced the pain first-hand of trying to find images outside of a certain mould (namely: images that aren’t slim, white, cisgender individuals). Finding free to use images of people with different body shapes and sizes, disabilities, different ethnicities, cultures, and non-conforming genders can be hard at best. But thanks to Broadly, representing a broader range of individuals through articles across the web just became a whole lot easier.
The Gender Spectrum Collection is a stock library featuring trans and non-binary models. Created to help the media better represent these communities, the new, free resource was launched on March 26 2019.
Inspired by their own struggles to find appropriate stock photos back in 2015, the idea was born after journalist Diana Tourjée pitched a humorous, candid story about tucking. As editors struggled to find appropriate stock images they could use, a photograph of a young man in sheer tights was initially used, before being replaced at Diana’s request for potentially being “insensitive and harmful”, according to an article by Editor in Chief, Lindsay Schrupp, who went on to say:
“It’s embarrassing to think back on this moment, and it’s still frustrating to look at that article now - the replacement image is of a cisgender woman in shorts, with her head cropped off.”
The new library features over 180 images of 15 transgender and non-binary models. Taken by photographer Zachary Drucker, these images are now available for the public and media to use sensitively for free under the Creative Commons License.
Transgender and non-binary individuals have become more visible in the media than ever before. For many, our understanding of non-binary and transgender people are created through media representations, meaning how the media represents related issues and stories, as well as the photography they choose to use, can have a huge impact.
As The New York Times pointed out in an article in October of 2018, “Images [are] one measure of how a society views itself, and transgender people are showing up in them more often, but not in fully representative ways.”
Of the stock images previously available, many show slim white women standing alone and looking at the camera, or close-ups of hands with the transgender pride symbol displayed and no other discerning features visible. According to Broadly, Shutterstock saw a 64% increase in the number of searches for transgender images in February 2019 compared to February 2018, whilst Getty Images saw the number of searches for gender fluid photography tripling between June 2017 and June 2018.
According leading LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall, an estimated 1% (approximately 600,000) of the UK population identify as transgender or non-binary. Facing huge levels of abuse, an overwhelming two in five have experienced a hate crime against them during the past year, with one in eight being physically attacked by a colleague or customer whilst at work.
Despite media coverage widely focusing on specific body parts and surgical procedures, Stonewall emphasises that: “Being trans isn’t about having (or not having) particular body parts. It’s something that’s absolutely core to a trans person’s identity and doesn’t alter - whatever outward appearances might be.”
The release of this new collection of stock images aims to not only help create better representation of transgender and non-binary people within the media, but to help dissuade the use of images of these communities based solely on their gender identities. Split into easy-to-navigate sections, photographs featuring non-binary and transgender individuals are available across categories including lifestyle, relationships, technology, work, school, health and moods.
Other initiatives have grown over recent years, promoting more inclusive representation in stock images. Representation Matters offers stock imagery of men and women of all shapes and sizes, with categories including abilities and disabilities, health at every size, LGBT+ couples and relationships, and more. Collections including more representations of different groups, including Fat Beauty and Diverse Women have also begun appearing more widely on free stock image sites.
Images: photographer Zachary Drucker, with thanks to The Gender Spectrum Collection.