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Recently, I opened for a batch of bust and waist-up commissions.

One client who submitted an order form stated that they would e-mail me their reference images after securing the slot, which is perfectly fine. When I contacted this client afterwards, he told me that he is a trans man and was looking to get a waist-up illustration of himself after his eventual top surgery. That is something I 100% support and would be happy to do for him.

However, when I asked for reference images, he stated that of the few selfies he felt comfortable sharing was of himself topless - again, he has yet to have any surgical procedures done. This makes sense to me as reference material, since it would give me a better idea of his body type, proportions and any scars or tattoos, but I'm pretty certain it would still legally be considered NSFW/18+ material.

As it stands, I think I'm going to tell him that if he can provide proof that he is above the age of 18 (a scan of his driver's license or state ID card with other private information censored, or similar), a nude photo would be no issue for me.

I'd like to get the input of other artists, however - for the past 5 years or so I've been strictly a clean artist; I never draw pornography but I have drawn tasteful nudes, both for clients and for myself. But since I do almost entirely draw clothed characters, the vast majority of my reference material from clients are also fully-clothed. I feel a little out of my element here. 

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( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 12th, 2018 03:02 am (UTC)
Could you ask the user to black out the nipple area? Would that make it more okay?
Cy Mendoza
Jun. 12th, 2018 04:50 am (UTC)
It's good to tread carefully here. You definitely do not want anything transferred to you that could be interpreted in any way as being child pornography. Asking him for proof of age before sending any pictures (nude or not) sounds like the professional way to go.

I do think, though, that it's important to think of how you plan to word it. A trans man is a man, and if he were a cis man, you likely wouldn't think twice about receiving a topless picture of him (assuming there are pants involved). Identifying his body as 18+/nsfw because he hasn't had top surgery can be very painful and triggering, depending on his level of body dysphoria, and can come across as sexist also.

Something like "Before we can proceed, could you kindly provide me with government issued ID showing you're 18 or older? I don't feel comfortable working with minors, so your cooperation would be very appreciated."

That way, you can phrase it as "I don't wish to work with minors" rather than "I think the female form is potentially pornographic"
Jun. 12th, 2018 08:51 am (UTC)
Oh, I completely agree - no matter what his surgical status may be, he is a man through and through. I was more concerned with legality, referring to the outdated definition of what may or may not be considered "adult material". And nudity, regardless of gender, doesn't bother me so long as the subjects are over the age of 18 and it's not, you know, depicting explicitly sexual situations.

I appreciate your suggestion about how to word the request - I was struggling with that myself since - like you pointed out - I'd never want to misgender him or trigger any dysphoria.
Jun. 12th, 2018 08:11 am (UTC)
I'm a trans man myself and after top surgery, a FtM's chest is considered male instead of female. It would be no different than if a cis man said he'd like to use himself as reference material for the commission. It wouldn't be considered NSFW for a waist high, topless pic.

Good call on asking about age, though. You wouldn't want to get dinged for having kiddie porn because of a topless photo ref.
Jun. 12th, 2018 08:56 am (UTC)
Oh, I totally understand! The resulting image won't be considered NSFW or "nude" since he'll be cut off well before any genitalia would be depicted.

My concerns really are all about legality, since the legal definition of what's considered nudity is very outdated - I understand that even without surgery he's a man, no matter what his body looks like, but I would rather avoid legal trouble if he happened to be under the age of 18.

That said, I'll be taking the above commenter's advice about how to word the request so as to be as respectful as possible with my phrasing.
Jun. 22nd, 2018 10:09 pm (UTC)
Right, this is all true.

But the problem is that he hasn't had his surgery yet; his breasts are still intact. That could be seen as sexual imagery from a legal standpoint.

Don't get me wrong, I don't consider breasts NSFW. But it's about risking getting in trouble through the law's eyes.
Jun. 22nd, 2018 10:11 pm (UTC)
Ahh excuse me. I meant to say female breasts are still intact.***
Jun. 13th, 2018 02:48 am (UTC)
I'd ask for proof of age, they can block out their deadname and any other information as needed, just their photo and birthdate should be enough.

Something like "Hey since you're sending me IRL photos of what the law perceives as sexual parts I need proof of your age. A scan of your ID with information except birthdate and your photo blocked out will be all I need if possible. Thank you." Or something similar.

Jun. 18th, 2018 11:00 pm (UTC)
You may have already resolved this, but you can always say that you need proof of age for ANY IRL photos whether they me SFW or NSFW, as any photographs of minors can get you in trouble.

Something along the lines of; "I cannot accept IRL photographs from customers unless they provide legal ID with a birthday proving they are a legal adult"
Jun. 22nd, 2018 10:06 pm (UTC)
This is really really really REALLY walking on egg shells.

Does it state his age on the website that this commision was initiated through?

Even if someone sends you a scan/copy of their driver's license, birth certificate etc, it could be someone else's.

I don't know a lot about Paypal, but I am pretty sure individuals who are under 18 can use it. Is there some way to find out his age through paypal somehow? I know that is being nosy, but I just forsee all kinds of things going wrong with this. I am not assuming that he is a liar, don't get me wrong. But what if it turns out he is underage?

If you have to ask yourself these questions, then it may not be a good idea to go through with it. There may be other ways to "reference" his body without him sending you photos. For example, he can give you detailed descriptions and you can keep sending images of the WIP back and forth with his suggestions. Or he could find a nude, topless image on the internet which looks similar to what his upper body resembles (after the surgery, of course).

If he had already had his top surgery, then it wouldn't be so much of a problem. But the breasts make things complicated because it CAN be taken as sexual.

It's up to you, but take extreme caution with this.
Jun. 24th, 2018 10:13 pm (UTC)
Honestly, if he truly insists on sending a "nude" image, you could always ask for him to tape his nipples or something similar, as that is generally what is considered the "adult" part of nude images of the 'female' parts of the body. It's not a great solution, but it's something.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )


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