Unbounded is an ongoing photographic series that, visually and narratively, portrays people who identify as gender diverse.
This body of work showcases a series of portraits, each accompanied by the subject’s reflections, allowing each person to be heard and seen in their representation of gender diversity.

There are many ways to identify beyond the traditional male and female categories. Gender is a personal and unique aspect of an individual, which may or may not align with the sex assigned at birth. Some people may choose to identify with a different gender, or with no gender at all.
Unfortunately, people who identify as gender-diverse can face discrimination and other challenges in society. It’s important to acknowledge and address these issues and to create a more inclusive and accepting environment for everyone. Respecting each person’s self-determination and using the pronouns and terms that they prefer to describe their gender identity is a meaningful way to support them.

Recognizing my privilege as a cisgender person has emphasized my responsibility to help effect change. Everyone needs to play a role in protecting the rights of marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQIA+ community, even if they are not part of the community themselves. Equality can only be achieved when society as a whole actively advocates for and protects the rights of all individuals.

As I continue to develop this project, my aspiration for it is to provoke discussions and contribute to eradicating the prejudices that lead to suffering and inequality.
In memory of Kai, who identified as unbounded, I called the project this way.

Read more on Unbounded

Zizo Magazine; Curated by Girls; Brainto; Gay. it; Arte Queer; Viole di Marzo.

This is Vlinder

Vlinder, Rotterdam, NL

Just like a lot of things in our world, gender is made up. It’s not biological, it’s artificial. People get to choose their own identity, their own levels of ”masculinity” and ”femininity”, instead of just taking on the ‘M’ or ‘F’ they got assigned at birth.
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 Rosalie

Rosalie, Den Haag, NL

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 Glo

Glo, Haarlem, NL (they/them)

I grew up thinking that being queer would mean struggles and difficulties. And don’t get me wrong, it does have some. But it also means strength. And freedom. And community. I feel empowered by my queerness.  I have questioned every aspect of my life: my sexuality, my gender identity, monogamy, my future, the meaning of family and friendship because I am queer. So I can really say that who I am today is truly me and not just a product of society. Everyday I feel like I am growing more and more into myself. I am queer and I am strong.

This is Kai

Kai, Amsterdam, NL (they/them)

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 for 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 Miguel

Miguel, Amsterdam, NL

I think that moving from your place, your roots, like in my case, from my country to The Netherlands like many others living in here at this moment made me not only think about my place in society but also about the ways others look at me. Being it in a race, sexual or human perspective. The important for me is to always insist on being your own self in order to give everyone – including yourself – the opportunity to understand your rights of self expression and the power of uniqueness.

This is Alice

Alice, Viterbo, IT (she/they)

Social preconceptions about gender exist and can often be very limiting.
In Italy, a few years ago, people began to speak more freely about homosexuality, and knowledge of issues such as gender identity and sexual orientation is not widespread. For this reason, a person with a non-binary gender identity can find themselves in many uncomfortable situations at work, school, family, etc.
In the youth group that we hold with Arcigay Viterbo, a recurring theme is precisely this: internal and external preconceptions and stereotypes. Contrasting emotions emerge: not feeling “normal”, the desire to be accepted, the clash and encounter with the family, with religion, with the outside world, and our internal world. Finding harmony is not easy, but I think we can understand, accept and fight many limiting stereotypes and avoid them becoming prisons for our identity.

Personally, after so many years of difficulty, I have learned to love who I am. Sometimes I feel dysphoria for some parts of my body, sometimes I don’t. With the term gender fluid, I found my harmony. It’s about dressing how I want, cutting or not cutting my hair and/or body hair, it’s about studying what I want and doing the job I want without being limited by the “men’s” or “women’s” label.
Only in this way, I do feel my feminine and masculine energies dancing together in a continuous flow, which I simply call myself.

This is Shakira

Shakira, Amsterdam, NL (they/them)

We are here. We have always been here.
For as long as we have recorded history, cultures around the world have recognized the existence of people between and beyond the categories of “man” and “woman.” Those cultures have often been suppressed and forced into the Western gender binary, but the natural world will not be divided into neatly separate boxes of species, sex, gender, or any other sort – it rejoices in diversity.
It is my hope that through awareness and acceptance of that diversity, we can create societies where everyone is safe to express the truth of their identity, and affirmed for being who they are.

This is Hemel

Hemel, Den Haag, NL

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 Irene

Irene, Amsterdam, NL (they/them)

There are moments in life where I realize how precious my queerness is: it makes me experience life, myself, and other people with an openness and acceptance that I am very grateful for.
When I was younger my queerness was something I tried to hide or reject, now I try to be as open and vocal as I can about it. It’s not always easy, or possible, depending on the context, but it made me understand that I should never again hide or dim my light for anyone.
Being non-binary, I learned to give myself time, space and kindness. There is a longing tenderness about being fully acceptive of one’s body, mind, and spirit.
I want to do everything I can to imagine and create a future where there is no right way to be but to be who we are.

This is Sandra

Sandra, Amsterdam, NL

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.

This is Juul

Juul, Den Haag, NL

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 Sara

Sara, Amsterdam, NL (she/they)

The word ‘fluidity’ is key to me in understanding gender and sexuality.
As I came more into my queerness in terms of sexuality, I started to come into my own concept of gender in the sense that it felt absent or sometimes fluid. I feel comfortable in my gender expression, but not in the label of woman or man. Why label it at all? I felt such relief to realize I do not have to conform to made-up binaries and I wish the same kind of freedom was available for everyone.
Shave off your hair, grow it out, wear different clothes, use pronouns or not at all, celebrate and above all, respect the unique experiences of all.

This is Tristen

Tristen, Haarlem, NL (she/they/he)

I shaved my head for the first time when I was 18 years old, without telling anyone other than the friend who helped me. I was eager to see what my community’s raw reaction was to such an “extreme” change, and though many (typically young women) were impressed and often complimented “my bravery”, what struck me was the constant backlash I faced, even after I’d grown my hair out again.

From random people touching my head unannounced to my cousins saying I looked like a member of the SS to the many who “just had to let me know that they preferred my hair long”, it didn’t take my much time to realize that I was in fact being brave, that shaving my head was a radical act of self-love in a society where gender norms are so heavily enforced.

While those who dolled out negative commentary (also known as micro agressions) probably thought their opinions innocent, they were slowly chipping away at my sense of safety in expressing my queerness authentically.

This, however, did not stop me from doing it all over again this fall, and boy did it feel good. This time, I was living abroad in a warm and welcoming community of international students, who all exceeded my wildest expectations. I had come to expect people (especially men) to recoil at the sight of my baldness, hating me for not fitting into their idea of hegemonic femininity, but every time I braced myself for more invalidation, I was met with the complete opposite. “This look so suits you so well!” some said, others asked me if I could shave their head too. Of course I emphatically agreed. The more the merrier I always say.

While I felt so loved by my new community, I started to feel incredibly resentful to all of those who had decided to put me in a box because they were uncomfortable with who I was. Well no more. Today and forever more, I shall be unbounded in my authenticity, and I invite everyone else to join me in that liberation. You deserve it.

This photo series is still ongoing.
If you want to be part of it, that would mean a lot. Feel free to contact me.

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