Trans representation is on the rise, but still has a long way to go — especially when it comes to trans-masculine folks.
Fortunately, photographer Soraya Zaman is helping add to that representation with their “American Boys Project.”
Zaman told i-D the project started in 2016 for fun, but slowly build into a more serious endeavor. They related to the project as a non-binary person creating another form of visibility for trans people.
“The essence of this project is to express humanity,” Zaman said. “For trans and non-binary youth, seeing positive imagery might help them take the brave steps to live their truth, or perhaps a family member will look at this work to learn more and feel more comfortable with the process.”
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Meet Lazarus @l.nuzzles Albuquerque, New Mexico 25yo and 2 years on Testosterone when photographed. …… Lazarus laughed with me about having basically been every letter in “LGBTQ” and now just wants to be identified as a unicorn. When I met Lazarus, they were in the middle of doing a thesis on #blacklivesmatter , focusing on the murders of black trans women. Lazarus is looking to highlight the connections that have always existed between black and indigenous queers and how this connection has been a wellspring of incredible activism. “The black lives matter movement was started by three queer women, people always forget that, people always think it’s for men. The official platform is incredible, super trans and queer inclusive and yet cities only rise up when black men are killed and not when we lose our trans sisters.”
In addition to the Instagram account, there will also be a forthcoming book by the same title coming out in April 2019 with Daylight Books, featuring the portraits and interviews of trans-masculine people.
“I think the trans-masculine community has been extremely under-represented in mainstream media and when it is represented, often trans-masculine bodies get fetishized and over-sexualized,” they said. “The images offer the viewer a more raw and honest portrayal of trans identity … also the representation of the body isn’t to sexualize it, rather to tell the story that trans bodies don’t totally align with cisgender expectations and that’s okay.”
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Meet Amari! @theofficial_amarijayce | Mount Dora, Florida | 33 yo and 3.5 years on testosterone when photographed. … Amari has one of the biggest hearts you’ll meet. He’s a family man and gave birth to his 2 kids before transitioning. It was of equal importance to him to have his own babies as it was to transition. He still checks in with me to see how I’m doing a year after we shot together and I appreciate that and him so much. . . . #americanboysproject #trans #transgender #xxboys #transman #genderqueer #transmasculine #genderfluid #lgbtqi #lgbt #nonbinary #queer #transisbeautiful #ftmtrans #ftmtransgender #htr #ftm #selfmademan #f2m #selfmade #transformation #vitamint #transmenofig #transandinked #transandproud #testosterone #thisiswhattranslookslike #transgenderpride #TDOV #transresistance
Zaman said the title of the project, “American Boys,” is an intentional call-out to this notion and is meant to challenge how people view and perceive traditional gender roles and cultural interpretations across the country. As a person who was born and raised in Australia, they were able to look at the subjects with an objective point of view.
“There is a strong movement across not just the U.S., but all over the world for us to stop and recenter how we perceive and interpret gender,” they said. “The people in this work are pioneers, or the first wave of this movement, and will be some of the first people to be on hormones from teen years into the future.”