The Transcending Gender Project

celebrating lives beyond gender

The Transcending Gender project began as a photographic celebration of the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming humans. My passion to capture and celebrate diverse lives came from the belief that one of the reasons transgender and gender non-conforming individuals are not embraced in our society is because of our deeply-rooted cultural gender expectations. Gender expectations that are so engrained into the way we interact with one another they drive many of the decisions we make, including; what we wear, what color our phone case is, how we treat each other, and how we show our emotions. 

L to R: Aiden, from Idaho; Zoe, from Ohio; Kallie, from Colorado; Chris, from Oklahoma

L to R: Aiden, from Idaho; Zoe, from Ohio; Kallie, from Colorado; Chris, from Oklahoma

After capturing stories around the nation, I realized it’s not just transgender and gender non-conforming people who suffer from these expectations: it’s all of us. We should all feel free to be who we want to be, whether it’s how we dress or how we show emotions and affection toward one another. So over the past six months this project has evolved into a photographic series where transgender individuals, and also individuals who are not transgender – literally, everyone and anyone – show we are more than just our gender.

While the mission of this project is to shift the way people think about gender, these portraits are not actually about gender at all. They are about people, living their lives – an experience we all share. I believe that if we can shift the way we think about, talk about and understand gender in our mainstream society we will see more acceptance for everyone to freely express themselves without fear of judgment, discrimination or violence.

I hope you enjoy these photographs, and thanks for following the project. 

-Rhys