Twelve years ago, photographer Sarah Wong was working as a healthcare photographer when she met a group of transgender children. At the time they were aged between 5 and 17, and amongst the first in the world to undergo a therapy developed by Peggy Cohen-Kettenis, the founder of Europe’s first clinic for children and adolescents with gender dysphoria, at VU University in Amsterdam.
Wong was profoundly moved by their stories, and was inspired to document their experiences with her camera. That was the day the photoseries, Inside Out: Portraits Of Cross-Gender Children, was born.
"The greatest nightmare from a cross-gender child is your body growing the wrong direction," Wong tells The Weekly. " A boy doesn’t want breasts and girls don’t want to have a beard. The puberty-blockers gave relief and thinking time, and they could grow up like 'normal' teenagers."
It was important for Wong to use her talents as an artist to try and raise public awareness about the transgender community.
"It's very important for society to see these images -- there's nothing sensational about transgender kids. Again, at the end we’re pretty much the same: we’re all souls who want to live happy and give meaning to our life and others," Wong says.
During her time photographing the children, Wong was particularly careful not to make their transition the focus of the portraits. "With their portraits I wanted to empower them — no sensational journalistic approach," Wong says. "Not a boy in a dress or a girl with a football. I wanted people to see the portraits and say, 'Lovely children, but who are they?'
"At the end we’re all the same. Souls who want to live happily and give meaning to our lives and others."
*Sarah's latest photoseries is called SoulFlowers, and is inspired by the transgender children she has photographed over the years. It aims to capture the soul of different people in the world.
You can view that photoseries here.*
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