I have been reflecting over the last few days about the best way to transparently address the concerns presented by filmmaker Tiona McClodden who participated in ELIXHER’s “Baring Our Truths” magazine feature. I’ve been a fan of Tiona’s work for years and I appreciated her courage and vulnerability deciding to pose nude for the publication. I realize that, although I had every intention of honoring Tiona’s request for a complimentary ticket for the talented photographer of her portrait, my conversation and approach with Tiona triggered something that is a much larger issue our community of brilliant artists, activists, innovators and more face. And for that I apologize. Too often queer and trans people of color are undervalued for their work. Tiona, I want to affirm how much I value you and your work. Texas, I want to affirm how much I value you and yours.
In an effort to limit the number of complimentary event tickets we provide, I extended two to Tiona for her participation in the shoot but did not extend one to the photographer we paid at his discounted rate. This was the practice we implemented across the board and at the time it seemed like a wise and logical business move, as our events serve as fundraisers and our biggest source of revenue that gets funneled back into paying our contributors and overhead costs. I’ve since learned that when serving a community, you cannot make business decisions in a vacuum. There is context; there is history; there is trauma.
I deeply respect Texas’ work and remain committed to uplifting the trans community through the stories we tell on ELIXHER and through hiring trans writers, photographers, and more. Through Tiona’s post, it was brought to my attention that the communication coordinating her shoot for the magazine could have been much tighter. We have started working with a communications consultant who has offered to assess our communications protocol pro bono, so that in the future we are clearer of the needs of photographers (and other contributors) and can work better to meet those needs. Texas, you have my sincere apologies for any miscommunication or lack of communication on my part.
Finally, as the demand for ELIXHER continues to grow, we’re excited to grow our team and find more sustainable sources of funding. We will continue to find a better balance between meeting the needs of the community we serve and meeting the bottom line.
Thank you to our fierce supporters. Thank you for standing by us. Thank you for making us better.