The absence of gender rules

Gender diversity is about acknowledging that there are 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 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.

About this project

Each photo comes with a subject’s personal story that aims to raise awareness and respect for those who are gender diverse and the choices they make about their life. Everyone should have the right to express themselves without being discriminated in any way.

Being a volunteer for my project

Nothing would have been possible without these people who believe in my work and shared themselves with me together with their thoughts and experiences. This is something I’m really grateful for.

If you want to be part of this project, please, feel free to contact me. I’d be honored to have you as my model.

This is Sven

Sven, 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.”

This is 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.”⁣

This is Rosalie

Rosalie, in Den Haag

I have always doubted myself and my gender as if I had to choose between parts of myself. When I transitioned as a trans man, I thought I was being authentic, but looking back, it was another way of changing myself to try to accept myself.* Now I keep reminding myself that it’s enough to exist as a human, and there’s no mold to fit into. It’s a relief for me, but meanwhile, the gender binary is still the root cause of sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and many insecurities for cis people as well.

* this is my unique experience and does NOT invalidate any other trans person

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.”

This is Kai

Kai, in Amsterdam

“Defining things that can be as vague as gender in a way that includes everything that should be in there but excludes everything that isn’t meant to be in there is almost, if not entirely, impossible.
There’s a lot that can factor into why you may be feeling the way you do. Or you might have been sure of yourself from the start. Either way, YOU are the only one who can define your gender identity.

The world will always critique us on not being the way they wanted or expected us to be, but that’s tough fucking luck for them.
Its’ your flesh sack and you get to choose the pronouns!!”

This is Sandra

Sandra, in Amsterdam

“So how do I move in a world that has changed so much for me?
I never realized being a woman is so completely different than life as a man. I know. I can tell. I know both sides. 
I always felt safe. As a man. 
I always took my opportunities for granted. As a man.
I never cried. As a man.
And now: why do I have to take care while cycling the streets at night?
Why must I talk louder to be heard even though my message is the same as it used to be? 

I am sad, surprised and pissed.
I am happy, grateful and curious.
All those differences.
I suggest everybody should live the life of the opposite sex sometimes. 
Just to understand what it is like to be on the other side of gender.”

Ongoing project