ERICA FIELDS is a Smooch! Project Hero. She earned that status by donating more than six hours of her time to help manage a Smooch! shoot. More than that, she did this in response to an “Eeek!-I-need-someone-NOW-please-help!” plea from a photographer she had never met before (moi!), for a project she knew nothing about, for a shoot scheduled to begin in less than an hour. Yikes! We were at the St. Paul 2010 annual conference offered by the Minnesota Transgender Health Coalition, a remarkable organization committed to improving health care access and the quality of health care received by trans and gender nonconforming people through education, resources, and advocacy. My original volunteer couldn’t make the shoot at the last minute and, when I arrived with my equipment, Erica immediately stepped up to the challenge. Lucky me, to have encountered this generous woman! As the day progressed, I came to understand that stepping up to challenges was nothing new for Erica. Doing so has literally become her life’s work. Here’s just one example: Among the many, many obstacles facing transgender people like herself (individuals who appear as, wish to be considered as, or having undergone surgery to become a member of the opposite sex), one of the most challenging can be negotiating a new relationship with your children. To help support this effort, Erica co-founded the creation of a day for people “to celebrate being a parent without concern of the stereotypes of gender.” It’s called TransParentDay and it’s always celebrated on the first Sunday in November, which is Nov. 7 in 2010. The TransParentDay website is a community resource containing stories of parents and their children and more. She works hard to “proudly give back to the many transgender people . . . who are less fortunate.” So why does Erica like The Smooch! Project? This photographic effort “struck me by how it transcends all class, religion, sexual orientation, gender, race, and even species, evoking that wonderful smile from all who see the pictures,” she said. “If only that freedom to react with no regard for these differences could permeate all of life! It’s a start.” Well said, Erica! I’m very happy to have you — along with one of your very best friends, Leigh — and other members of the transexual community within the archive, where they belong. Yes, it’s a start. A very good start! Thanks so much for your help to bring that about.