A Dutch photographer, Sarah Wong, has been photographing transgender children for the last 12 years. She took the photographs while the children participated in a VU University in Amsterdam program that helps kids who experience gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a treatable condition that some transgender people experience when they feel like the gender they were designated at birth conflicts with their gender identity. A number of the kids in this program struggled with that and were given puberty blockers as a way to slow puberty down until they figure out who they want to live their lives as.
Wong photographed the children, ages 5-17, after their parents asked her to, in the environments the kids were the most comfortable in. She then took the photos and put them in a beautiful book called Inside Out: Portraits Of Cross-Gender Children. The book shows these amazing kids as they grow up and decide who they want to be. More importantly, it’s a look into a community that has really been demonized by conservatives over the last few years.
Although these kids are not American, they are part of a community that has been viciously attacked by the right-wing in the United States. A couple of years ago fundamental “Christians” with the Family Research Council called for politicians to pass a constitutional amendment that would prevent the transgender community from being recognized and protected by discrimination laws. Conservative politicians in a number of states have tried to pass “bathroom bills” because they say they want to protect women from men posing as transgender women with the purpose of gaining access to bathrooms and raping women. The right-wing media has even gone as far as to make up stories about transgender women harassing women in restrooms.
If you listen to the right, you’d believe that the transgender community is composed of a bunch of monsters who just want to attack women and rape them. It’s this kind of hate-filled rhetoric that leads to astronomical suicide rates within the community. That’s why pictures like these are so important; they show that the transgender community isn’t filled with mythical boogeymen. They are beautiful, amazing people who just want to be happy and accepted.
Wong explained to the Huffington Post why she took the photos and her response perfectly sums up the transgender community:
My goal was to help them to find happiness. With their portraits I wanted to empower them — no sensational journalistic approach. Not a boy in a dress or a girl with a football. When people saw the portraits they said, “lovely children, but who are they?”
The photographs showed lovely children, with a strong consciousness: this is who I truly am. At the end we’re all the same — souls who want to be happy and live compassionately.
Take a look at some of Wong’s photos and if you’d like to purchase the book you can go here.
Images via Huffington Post