Trans activist and author Grace Anne Stevens explains, “Young kids don’t have any problems with people transitioning. They are very flexible, very adaptable.” Stevens served as a mentor to Erica during her transition and is glad to see the impact the exhibit to create conversation, minus much of the media hype about gender transition. “For good or bad, Jenner has put transgender on everybody’s lips. The downside is that Jenner does not represent the bulk of the community, nor has the experience to teach about it,” notes Stevens. “We are all over the place. We’re everywhere and all we’re trying to do is be authentic and live our truth,” says Stevens. She sees the exhibit as just another way to allow visitors to get to know transgender people as people like anybody else.
Maybe the best example of just how adaptable children can be to gender transition is exemplified by one of Erica’s grandchildren, nine-year-old Maddie who is photographed in the show and gave a speech at the opening of the exhibit. “I thought it was fun that I got to come up with a new name for my grandmother. I wanted to call her grammy but she said that sounded so old, so we agreed on Mimi.” Exhibit designer Margaret Middleton was very conscious of finding a family to focus on with a transgender person as a way to both honor the "T" in LGBTQ and create a space for children to have a conversation about gender identity. “When I first found out that Margaret and Matthew were doing this exhibit on our family, I thought—‘Wow! Being transgender is awesome!’” exclaims Maddie.
Nevertheless, it’s important to recognize the photography in the exhibit features a middle-class, white family. Because of the inevitable shortcomings of using one American family or trans experience to present universal experience, Clowney is hesitant to have his work as representative of the modern family, or really anything beyond the interactions with the individuals in the photos. “I find it safer and actually more productive and rewarding to just dive into and enjoy these individual relationships, and I think in doing so we find those sort of bigger connections to what it means to be an American family today.”
As a visitor to the exhibit, the most powerful moment came when standing in front of the grand portrait over the mantel and looking in on Erica’s family. Erica is holding her granddaughter Kylie, the sole person making eye contact with the viewer. I felt drawn into her gaze and the warmth Clowney describes radiates out from Kylie and Erica across the interactions between family members throughout the rest of the image.