Provocative Images Of Transgender Youth Examine The Nude Human Body





After her decades’ long work exploring androgyny, the photographer Bettina Rheims saw a shift in the way cultures view gender, and she was inspired by transgendered youth. As transgender issues are only recently beginning to receive the attention they deserve, her 2012 project Gender Studies aims to give voice to the most intimate thoughts on the gendered self. Using Facebook, she reached out to any and all people who “felt different” in regards to gender; with responses from those who identified as male, female, both, or neither, the diversity of her subjects is staggering, and they serve to remind us that feeling “different” may be the only thing that unites us all, regardless of our genders. In the series’s original show, the artist played audiotapes of her sitters, allowing their own voices to inform each work.

The portraits reveal strength in vulnerability; the bareness of the nude form does not speak to intrusive questions about specific physical characteristics but rather to a more meaningful revelation of selfhood through movement. As pure white clothes melt from bodies, each subject reveals bandages, tattoos, freckles, and other marks of universal human existence. All definitions and judgements give way to ethereal and blossoming beauty, elevating the spirit of the body and deeming theoretical, academic, or impersonal definitions of gender irrelevant. Simultaneously humanizing and worshipful, this is portraiture at its most powerful, lending the human form and soul a more murkily transformative sexual and emotional authority. What do you think of the images? (via Bust and Slate)


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  • C

    the guy in the first picture is a known rapist. good job!

  • C

    His name is Kael T Block and he is the creator of the XXBoys project. A known serial rapist and violent predator who is evading arrest for aggravated sexual assault.

  • Kelly

    the last picture is a model Andrej Pejic, and he’s not transgender. he is a male, just looking like a girl. also looks like a man sometimes. 🙂 “”Pejić has described herself as living “in between genders”” ( “Andrej Pejic”. La Monda. Retrieved 2013-11-05.)

  • coalczar

    Kelly, I think you have conflated “transgender” and “transsexual” . The two do no mean the same and Adrej’s self-description definitely fits the definition of transgender.

  • Aimes

    It seems the authors of these articles are really in love with their own artful writing. The descriptors are far more interesting than the subjects, trying to weave imaginary gymnastics into the perception. Perhaps the “staggering” diversity of the subjects is in their gender or backgrounds but without an explanation of each photo, they all look the same. I see white people. Except for that guy, obviously.

  • guest

    They’re not fully nude, if they were their real biological sex would be obvious and the lie of transgender would be exposed. Even so, the scarring under the breasts and the male chins show what they really are.

  • Lulu

    I think the portraits are beautiful, and the subject matter of the utmost importance. Our understanding and acceptance of gender diversity is essential to explore at this juncture in human existence if we are to continue to grow as humans. And sorely needed, judging from the other comments.

  • Cynthsa

    “Show what they really are” …. Uh, humans?

    Oh, and this is about their genders not their sexes. But sorry you were disappointed in not getting to see peoples’ sex organs.

  • A nudist is not just someone who walks around naked.
    Nudism or naturism is a lifestyle. You can find places like nudist camps, nude beaches
    and parks, for example. So what is an easier way to meet another nudist?
    Online. An ~~ dating
    site offers convenience and a chance to meet someone without resorting to

  • Chantal Mera

    Wow, way to erase ethnic diversity where it actually exists. They are all on the lighter-skinned side I will give you that, but most of these subjects are definitely multi-racial or do not represent a typical cis white standard of beauty.

    I’m not going to argue with your personal taste though. I found these to be very revealing and interesting.

  • Chantal Mera

    Okay, but what does that have to do with the photos?

  • Helen Rogers

    i think they’re brave and beautiful, stepping out into the spotlight in a judgemental world.

  • Nikolaj

    Provocative? Why?

  • A

    fantastic idea and something that really needs to be spotlit a lot more, but although the pics are technically ok, they are dull. the photographer could have done so much more with both the people and the subject matter.

  • Thommie

    Beautiful pics. Loved them all.

  • Actually a while ago she came out as transgender and changed her name! Also, even before that, she mentioned preferring ‘she/her’ pronouns.

  • guest

    provocative of thought… maybe.

  • Nikki Zee

    Hmmm. The first thing I thought when I saw these pictures was how old are these youth? Are they old enough to consent to revealing and potentially exploitative photos that will live online forever? Some trans* folks, especially youth, may decide later on in their transition that they are not comfortable with photos from their past. In addition, while the images are captivating, they are really lacking in diversity also. Everyone is white, slim, etc.

  • Motherofthyme thyme

    Such beautiful pictures. They all seem at peace with themselves. I wouldn’t say that is provocative, just a step in the right direction about human diversity.

  • Madmax

    So impressed with the beauty and freedom of these souls. They seem to have broken from here and have gone to a different place.