As a freelance photographer (Mr. Mac) and a performer (Mr. Kayiatos), the two, who are also old friends, were in no position to ante up the $2,000 it cost to print that first issue. So they did what a lot of people in the surprisingly cozy queer scene here do held benefits at places like the venerable gay bar the Stud.
Back in the long-ago days (well, two years ago) when the transman Thomas Beatie was shocking daytime television viewers by revealing his pregnancy on the air, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, the late gender theorist, pointed out that the true significance of Mr. Beatie’s revelation was what it had to say about the apparently plural nature of human sexuality.
“The truth is that many people experience gender very differently, and have really individual and imaginative uses to make of it,” Ms. Sedgwick told me then. “It is not necessarily about genital identity.”
Like the prefix trans itself, Original Plumbing exploits the rich material to be found between the lines of traditionally defined gender roles. “People assume so much” about transmen, Mr. Mac said. They assume, for instance, that all transmen “had a past identity as a lesbian,” when in fact some identify as heterosexual, some as homosexual and some as bisexual, while many refuse outright to submit to labels pigeonholing identity and desire.
On Monday, Mr. Mac returned to San Francisco from a trip to New York, where he’d spent a week photographing a series of portraits of transmen for the next issue of Original Plumbing, whose publication will be celebrated on Aug. 27 with a party at the Bell House in Brooklyn featuring a transman rapper known as Black Cracker.
“The No. 1 thing that I find from my experience is that there’s no set way to be a transman,” Mr. Mac said. “Identity is pretty fluid.”
As a young girl growing up outside Philadelphia, Mr. Mac played with both racecars and My Pretty Pony. As recently as two decades ago, he added, in the days before Wikipedia and Craigslist and Google and a little $8 zine called Original Plumbing, there was “not a lot of information out there” for a young girl destined to become a young man. “Now there is,” Mr. Mac said.