Photographer Bex Day has shot a series celebrating the UK’s transgender community for Adobe Stock, to mark International Transgender Day of Visibility on 31 March. Aiming to address the lack of transgender people represented in stock photography, the series focuses on ten trans people of various ages and backgrounds, shot in London and Berlin.
“I personally wanted to create a body of work that was empathetic and sensitive to the transgender community,” Bex tells It’s Nice That. “I wanted to make photos that are representative and authentic, that have feeling and compassion towards an under-represented community, which I thought other stock imagery I had seen previously really lacked.
“I think transgender stock photography is generally quite weak and dated in terms of the imagery I have seen. After speaking to some of the models, and other transgender friends, they thought the images were unrelatable.” When casting, Bex says she was careful to consider age, ethnicity, the different identities within the transgender umbrella term, and different fashion styles. “I wanted every model to feel comfortable and free, so I told them to wear what they felt most comfortable in, what made them feel like them, basically. And I was allowed to photograph in my own style with a lot of freedom.”
Bex believes that the general societal attitude towards gender needs to be “radically transformed”, and by working on such projects within commercial photography, more integration and education can be allowed to happen. This, she hopes, will lead to more funding within healthcare for the trans community “which is a big problem and grossly underfunded,” she says.
While attitudes are changing, there’s still a lot to be done on a mainstream scale, she explains. “There has definitely been a lot of movement in fashion, with transgender models, and lifestyle magazines writing about transgender topics – putting transgender models on the covers of Time and Vanity Fair for instance. However, this sense of glamorisation needs to be done across the board. The social stigma needs to be tackled and society’s general black and white thinking. It is not right and it is not fair.
“In Laurie Penny’s Bitch Doctrine, she writes: ‘Perhaps the generation being born today will grow up with different assumptions, not just women should be equal to men but that gender might not be the most important part of your identity. That’s an uncomfortable idea for a great many people.’ What I am trying to understand, and what so much of my work is about, is why we really need labels like male and female when everyone should be treated equally. We all deserve respect and that’s the bottom line.”
Bex Day’s photographs are available now on Adobe Stock, commissioned as part of the company’s Visual Trend forecast, titled The Fluid Self, which explores the ways our concept of identity is changing.