I chose to celebrate trans women in my photography to help raise awareness around the UNiTE to End Violence against Women campaign. I also wanted to do this to help contribute to Transgender Awareness campaign; a two-week event culminating in the Transgender Day of Remembrance on the 20th November. Worldwide, the life expectancy of trans women is thirty-five years old. Trans women of colour in particular face the bulk of this violence.
It was important that this project represent a diverse range of women. I cast a wide net and sought outspoken advocates for Transgender rights and visibility. Shon Faye, Munroe Bergdorf, Paris Lees and KUCHENGA helped me find this group of women, all of whom are powerful voices within the trans community.
I teamed up with florist James Buswell to create sixteen bespoke floral arrangements for each woman. I love flowers because they are symbolic of strength, extravagance, femininity, rebirth and beauty. The semiotics accounts for only part of my love for them. They are able to breathe life into the most basic portraits. They create complexity and depth to the images and provide a dynamism that draws the viewer in. I love the physical process of attaching them to the body. It can be awkward, in a light hearted and humorous way and a good icebreaker to get to know someone more intimately. It can help build trust between the photographer and the model.
It was important to me that I represented these women in a way that respectfully showed who they are and how they want to be seen. Through this series I portray these women as strong, beautiful, graceful, sexy and happy. The variety of floral arrangements and colours, compliment their shape and beauty. Umber Ghauri, the immensely talented makeup artist, played a crucial role in making these women feel beautiful and powerful in their own skin.
Together, we produced an empowering and positive narrative for this project. I hope it provides a non-exploitative visibility. It’s my small part in amplifying the many strong voices of these women and calls for an end to the violence they face.