Commissioned by San Francisco Magazine following a harrowing alleged hate crime that left 18-year-old agender high school student Sasha Fleischman with second- and third-degree burns covering their legs, Chloe Aftel's "Agender" is an intimate photo series of agender, bigender, neutrois, and genderqueer young adults.
Set largely in domestic spaces with subjects — including a bandage-covered Fleischman — propped up by furniture and staring hauntingly into the camera, "Agender" is "a visual attempt to answer questions like 'What does it mean to have a body that is in between?' and 'What does that look like and feel like day to day?'" according to Aftel in an interview with Vocativ.
After the December attack in which Fleischman was set on fire by another teen who apparently took issue with what they perceived as a male body wearing a skirt, local and national news outlets began a conversation about words like "agender" and "genderqueer" and about the neutral pronoun “they” — used by many nonbinary people instead of "he" or "she" — in a way "we’ve never heard before in common culture," said Joel Baum of Gender Spectrum in an interview with NBC Bay Area.
Aftel’s portraits present the vulnerable, human side to "this whole group of people galvanizing the debate about what gender is, and to a certain extent, what love is and what self-expression is," she told Vocativ. "The idea of fluidity with regards to gender just seems so exciting to me, and honestly, much more based in reality.”
See some of the photos on the following pages.