If there’s one thing that is beautiful, powerful and stands the test of time, its art. Art in whatever form has been a useful empowerment and healing tool that has proven to work in creating a positive impact on the lives of people regardless of their colour, age, or gender. This is why a photographer in New York City has decided to empower trans-gender and gender-expansive youths through pictures.
Meet Annie Tritt, a New York City photographer and creator of Transcending self. The Transcending self initiative is a photo project and a community that supports trans-gender and gender-expansive youths between ages 2-20. Annie Tritt takes beautiful pictures of these unique people, and she tells their stories in the facebook community she created. Sharing with the online world what it is to be indeed human. “It’s tough to grow up being trans or nonbinary because society is invalidating you,” Annie explains. “What that results in is a suicide attempt rate that’s close to 50%.”
“I wanted to examine who we are at our core and how one finds the strength to be their unique self when society is pushing them to conform,” Annie told PRIDE. “I wanted to show what happens when a person is empowered to live their truth. Each young sitter offers a raw, yet unique, glimpse at an understanding of, gender and personal identity before social constructs subdue individuality.”
“Online platforms are critical. They serve as space for your people to hear that they are beautiful and supported. It allows for questions and answers and community building. It helps us connect. Supported and connected humans thrive and in turn, so does society.”
According to Annie, she is taking advantage of Instagram and Facebook to “positive, supportive and safe space where people ask questions, connect and function as ‘a community beyond the photos.'”
“I don’t know how to solve poverty. I do know how to solve that suicide rate.” she says, hoping this online community will help these kids, and others out there, know they’re not alone. “That rate drops to really close to their cisgender peers if they are supported at home and in school.”
This photographer has also lunched a campaign to raise funds that would help more youths get photographed and have their stories told.
“So far I have photographed over 30 participants in the US, England, Ireland, Germany, and Switzerland,” Annie explained. “I have 50 more youth signed up across the world, and the list is growing. I want to give each of these young persons a voice. The project needs to be as diverse as possible.”
She added that “Each young sitter offers a raw, yet unique, glimpse at, and understanding of, gender and personal identity before social constructs have wholly shaped their character. I will continue and develop the breadth and diversity of subjects. The long-term goals for Transcending Self are a book, an interactive website, and public exhibitions. I can’t do this without your help.”
One of the beneficiaries whose name is Azaj said “I feel safer knowing that now that I have so many people supporting me. I feel like anything is possible.”
Annie is one of the very few people who have identified the need to make trans people feel safe and accepted and the LGBT world just might be throwing it’s full weight behind her soon.