Organized by: Annie Tritt
October 13, 2016
This project aims to improve the lives of transgender youth. You have the power to help me make that happen. THIS IS A STORY OF LOVE.
In the words of Stella, a 16 year-old transgender girl, "I believe that this project can help others understand that at a basic level, we all want the same thing, which is to be accepted not in spite of who we are, but because of who we are."
Why Transcending Self? Transgender and gender-expansive youth need your help. They need their stories told and their humanity made visible. That is what "Transcending Self" is doing. Currently, nearly half of them will try to commit suicide by their 20th birthday. Supported trans youth have suicide rates 13 times lower than their unsupported peers. Visibility is the greatest tool we have to help youth and families gain more support and acceptance, and save lives.
What is Transcending Self? I have been photographing transgender and gender-expansive youth ages 3-20 through my project "Transcending Self". The youth and I need YOUR help to continue. The images are accompanied by personal stories examining the struggles, strength and insights of these youth and their families. So far I have photographed youth in the US, England, Ireland, Germany and Switzerland. I have working on this for 2 years.
Longer term, I will be building a website that will contain all participants’ stories and images and serve as a resource to the gender creative community. I will also be creating a book when I am done shooting that I will work to get distributed to schools and libraries.
What’s next for Transcending Self? I have 30 more youth in the US, Canada, England, Australia, Austria, Japan signed up and the list is growing. I want to give each of these youth a voice - a voice that will let them be seen and heard, a voice that can change their lives and the lives of others. I can't do this without your help. Every reader may resonate with a different story, and the more youths’ stories there are, the greater chance that one will resonate in someone’s heart. Every week, new emails arrive with requests from gender-expansive youth and their families to be included.
What will your donations help support? So far I have spent over $12,000 of my own money and over 2,000 hours. While this has been a labor of love, I cannot continue without your help. Your funds will go towards camera rental or purchase (pentax 645z and lenses = 300 per day or 12,000 to purchase), travel expenses (hotel, car, train, airfare, etc.) and making up for lost wages (since when I am away I can't take freelance jobs). Each shoot involves at least 1 hour on the phone, plenty of emails before and after the shoot and a day spent with the family. The images need to be edited, captioned, etc, and their stories transcribed. There are lots of check-ins along the way. This takes a lot of time, but it is the only way to get honest and ethical images and capture the amazing story of these youth.
The images capture their courage, heart and spirit. The images teach all of us to look inward and to live lives true to who we are. I chose this work because I understand the importance of visibility, the notion that in order to love and understand each other, we need to truly see each other. Transgender and gender expansive youth have lived for too long in the shadows. I need your help to achieve my goals of enhancing the world’s understanding, and in so doing, making the world a safer and better place for these incredible individuals.
How is Transcending Self being received so far?
"I am from Ukraine. 27 years old and I am male transgender. I really like your project. The world must know what kind of persons we are and that we are nor strange or freaks. We want to be free and not to live all life in "the dress of lies". For 22 years I have unfinished "War" with my Mother, Society... and me. I am tired to continue this kind of Life. I want to be free. That's the reason why I like your project. It gives me hope. Thank You."
Eric, dad of transgender 12 year old: “Just wanted to let you know how much your visit meant to Lilly, Jules and I. You came a long ways and your compassion and love are inspiring. I looked, this morning, at my picture of you and Lil on the tramp. We talked about not giving in to despair, that hope is one of our most profound allies. The hope lies in that image, of you with your arms around our daughter, embracing her and loving her for all that she is. These are the kinds of daily actions that will make the greatest difference in all our lives, and I believe they will emanate into the hearts of others. We are deeply grateful for your work and for our newfound friendship.”
Marta, mom of an 8 year-old, gender-expansive girl: “The picture of my twins flopped over on their beds is powerful…the moms I've shown (it to) have been moved to tears! Happy tears because they are so touched and moved...they recognize the love of a parent open to embracing and supporting their child however they happen to be. Pretty powerful stuff! Hanna was surprised to discover that the kids in the pictures had a similar experience. Kids born biologically one way yet not jiving with how they want express themselves (or how they know themselves to be). Hanna’s response was joyful disbelief, so happy to see and learn about others like herself.”
Becky, a photo editor: ” I've been following your gender project and have been mesmerized. The photos are beautiful. The subjects are so sure of who they are -- a remarkable thing for anyone (I'm 42 and still have a hard time sometimes), but especially for a child -- so impressive. And the statements/interviews you run with the photos -- I find these especially moving. Since I became a parent, I find myself looking at things through that lens all the time. (Do all parents do this? Do you do this?) I'm so moved that they are all so proud of their children for embracing who they are meant to me. They are such role models for the rest of the us.”
Stella, transgender 16 year-old girl: “My experience with Annie was phenomenal. She seemed to immediately understand me even though we had never spoken to each other before that day. She was friendly and easy to work with in a way that I’ve never experienced from a stranger before. When the shoot was over it felt as if we had known each other for months, which is very rare for me. That's why I think she's doing this project. She has an understanding nature and people feel like they can open up to her, which helps her tell our stories. I can’t change hearts and minds. All I can do is be my true self with the hopes that people can move past their bias once they get to know me. I believe that this project can help do that on a larger scale, and help others understand that at a basic level, we all want the same thing, which is to be accepted not in spite of who we are, but because of who we are.”
Sara, Mom of a transgender boy.."I find myself admiring your work. The glimpses into each of the families in your portraits lives leaves me wishing I'd only known their stories sooner so that I might have prevented my sweet boy so much hurt. But I am so hopeful for the future. Thank you for all that you're doing for our children and the world."
Your funds will help me continue to shoot. Even 1 dollar will help. Each donation will help me get further to including another youth and to save another life. This will help to positively influence the lives of all people and bring equity and justice to folks who have such wonderful gifts and so much to teach us about living authentic lives.