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Gender diversity

The absence of gender rules

Gender diversity is about many ways to identify outside of the traditional male-female binary.
Your gender is what feels natural to you. It may be the same as the sex assigned at birth, or it may be different. 
For many gender diverse people, the concept of binary gender is not enough. Having to choose to express yourself as male or female is constraining.
Some people would prefer to have the freedom to change from one gender to another or not have a gender identity at all.
For gender diverse people, their identity is about presenting something more authentic to the world.

Why this project

I’m a portrait photographer and I mostly work on projects about social activism.
Most of the time our society tends to force people to fit in a male or female binary. This is wrong. Everyone should have the right to express themselves without being discriminated in any way.

Last September I started this project. It aims to make people aware and respectful of those who are gender diverse and the choices they make about their life.

Publications

Zizo Magazine is an online magazine from and by gay, trans, intersex and queer people. 
On the 11th of February, they wrote an article about my gender diversity project, you can find the link here.


This is Sven

Sven
Sven, in Rotterdam

“I’ve always felt out of place, not being one of the boys but never one of the girls too. Until I learned I didn’t have to fit in. I’m the creator of my own life. I get to decide what to wear, what to do, what to be and to me, that’s powerful”.

Sven

This is Juul

Juul
Juul, in Den Haag

“Before I started testosterone and when I started testosterone I was in a lot of doubt about top surgery. ⁣
I was like ‘I am not a trans man but people see me like that. A lot of trans men undergo top surgery. Wait, if gender dysphoria exists, gender euphoria also exists’.⁣ ⁣
I started thinking a lot about my boobs (I always have). Then I came to the conclusion ‘my body is perfect as it is. My boobs are beautiful’ and I already want to have nipple piercings for a long long time. I can be masculine and have boobs’. When I decided that, a wave of pure bliss hit me. ‘ I am not gonna undergo top surgery if I think my boobs are beautiful’.
Then I got nipple piercings 3 days after I came back from my holiday to Italy. ⁣
Now I have a beautiful baddy queer chest with nipple hairs, nipple piercings and boobies. I love it so much. I felt like I can take on the world and still feel like that when I look at them.”⁣

Juul

This is Tobias

Tobias
Tobias, in Den Haag

“When I started transitioning, I thought I was open-minded but unconsciously, my mindset was binary.
I’m a feminine person. I kept doubting myself and my gender as if I had to choose between parts of myself. ⁣I’ve been learning to embrace my own experience of who I am.⁣ ⁣Now I realize society is weird. There’s nothing wrong with me.
It’s a relief for me, but it’s really fucked up that sexism, homophobia, transphobia, etc are all caused by the gender binary.” ⁣

Tobias

This is Vince

Vince photographed by me
Vince, in Den Haag

“I formed a relationship with beauty before I ever formed a relationship to gender per se. I realized that what kept me from transitioning for a very long time was not fitting within the idea of what beauty was. This is gender conforming. ⁣⁣
I came to the conclusion I wanted to medically transition for real. I wanted to heal from the physical drain that my curvature and being taken for a woman all the time. When that happened, a lot of people tried to put me back into a box of gender-conformity of maleness, where I was also uncomfortable for a long amount of time. ⁣⁣
I think that there’s a lot of humanness and the presence of both yin and yang denied to trans people. We are either expected to stay the same or completely want to be a hundred percent the other.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣
This binary thinking is not good for cis people. It also adds a surreal layer of pressure onto trans people. ⁣⁣Transgender burn-out is so real of an issue that nobody really talks about. The act of having to keep up a hyperconforming narrative as to make sure everyone knows ‘you’re happy now’ while denying yourself complexities and a life that has nothing to do with gender. Denying yourself nuances and sadness or even regrets, things you don’t like about transitioning.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣
I still have a lot of anxiety around the acne on my face caused by testosterone. Of course, it’s been worth it. I feel more comfortable in my skin than ever. Although the fact my skin is screaming, full of infections, every time I look in the mirror is so stressful.
I also get a lot of stress whenever expect me to do or like certain ‘male’ things.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣
I think a lot of people could really gain from hearing that trans people know what it’s like to be both. We know what it’s like to be perceived as both. Even when we’re not comfortable with being both.⁣⁣ ⁣⁣

That’s how I feel about my transness.”


Ongoing project

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