Transcending Self

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About two years ago, I began photographing transgender and “gender-expansive” children and young adults in the United States and Europe. I wanted to ask this question: “Who are we beyond ideas tied to our gender?” The answer is critical not only to the transgender community, I believe, but to everyone.

In the younger participants, I have found self-assuredness and confidence; they are clear about who they are. In the older youths — especially the nonbinary ones who identify as both genders, or neither — I see a willingness to break free from boxes society puts us into. In all of them, there is creativity and compassion for peers and strangers alike. — Annie Tritt, photographer

Zak, 13 | Isle of Wight, England. Transgender boy.

“When I was 12, I realized that transgender was a thing. It made sense. I’m straight — I’m a straight guy in a girl’s body. I had very distorted expectations, though, and thought that I would be able to have hormones and operations straightaway. The process is too long. I hate looking like this, I hate the body that I have. I want it to transform, and it is wrong that I have to wait until I’m an adult.”

Max, 13 | Bay Area, California. Nonbinary.

“I asked my mom if I could text her something. I texted her that I am attracted to boys and that I feel more girl than boy. Later that year, I found the term nonbinary. It just felt right. I still am often scared of the reactions of people when I tell them. As a trans person who has experienced hate, I want people to understand that nobody deserves to be hated. Everyone deserves love, regardless of race, gender, sexuality.”

Azaj, 17 | Oakland, Calif. Transgender girl.

“It is really different living as myself. Before, I felt like I was always trying to squeeze into jeans that were six sizes too small, but now it feels like I am in jeans that were made just for me. I no longer wake up hating myself or this world that does not understand me. I want to make sure the world does not take as long as it did to be open to gay and bi people. I hope that I am able to help girls like me, so they don’t go through what I did. I want to slay the gods 100 times over doing things that trans girls have never done. I want to be the face of equality.”

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