On November 11, 2015, Abby Stein came out as transgender and announced that she'd already begun hormone replacement therapy (HRT) on her blog. But what started as a personal declaration became a viral sensation, since Stein has an unusual backstory — she grew up in a deeply religious community as a Hasidic Jew in Brooklyn, was married at 18, and had a young son before coming out.
Almost a year later, it's clear that the conversation around Stein's transition must move beyond what any headline can convey. And thankfully, photographer Melody Melamed worked with Stein in order to do just that; Melamed's photographs reveal a more intimate, nuanced take on a story that was once treated as tabloid fodder.
It wasn't long after Stein went public that she met Melamed, who reached out to her online. Melamed was intrigued by Stein's unique narrative and conveyed as much in her initial messages, explaining that she wanted to help capture the story of Stein's transition. Meanwhile, Stein was drawn to Melamed because she made one thing clear: She had no interest in making Stein go viral all over again.
Melody Melamed is one of 29 female photographers featured in "Represent: 29 Women We Admire," a photo exhibit presented by Refinery29 on display at this year's Photoville, which runs September 21-25.
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