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PHOTOS: Transcending Gender Captures Trans Lives Across America

PHOTOS: Transcending Gender Captures Trans Lives Across America


The popularproject returns with a new must-see collection of breathtaking images of artists, fighters, advocates, and athletes.

When The Advocate last brought you photos from Rhys Harper's stunning project Transcending Gender, the trans Little Rock, Ark.-based photographer was just at the beginning of a journey that would take him across America.

Harper's ambitious plan started with an unassuming commission for a local art gallery, but the artist immediately saw potential for more. He began fundraising for travel,and in the meantime released a series of black-and-white portraits that made waves as soon as they saw light.

His concept -- to draw on environment, props, and body language to express each subject's personality and accomplishments, rather than focus on their body -- is simple yet powerful and resonates with a growing trend in art that seeks to humanize and destigmatize trans subjects while also emphasizing their diversity.

Now Harper, 31, is back with a new series of color portraits, striking in not only their continued emphasis on a range of subjects and spaces, but in their dedication to crafting warm, arresting images. And luckily, Harper only plans to continue traveling, taking pictures, and telling more stories with the continued support of Indiegogo fundraising and the thousands of fans he's gathered.

Check out the photos below, accompanied by captions from Harper, and check out his ongoing work (including how you can apply to be photographed) here.

Photographed in Salt Lake City

Aiden is a taxidermist and Native American two-spirit tribal artist who lives in Boise, Idaho. He also loves cars, specifically, his Gambit-themed Mustang that he has been customizing for the past few years. He says one of the most defining moments in his life has been the death of his close friend, whom he lost to suicide -- he gave him the courage to live life and find the happiness everyone deserves. He also loves things that are imperfectly perfect. He is pictured here in his Native regalia, which he wears for special occasions and powwow dances.

Photographed in Little Rock, Ark.

Andrea is an activist and cartographer who lives in Little Rock. She was just featured in the Arkansas Times. She is also a stilt walker, as seen in this photograph.

Photographed in Catoosa, Okla.

Arin is an Oklahoma teen who just published his first novel, Some Assembly Required. He is currently attending college in Oklahoma and plans to have a career in the outdoors.

Photographed in Leflore, Okla.

Chris is a country boy living in Oklahoma. He works as an EMT dispatcher, but when he isn't working he is riding four-wheelers, hunting, and getting muddy out in the backwoods of Oklahoma. He also is passionate about gun safety and wants to get his gunsmith license in the future.

Photographed in Orem, Utah

Eri grew up in the pool -- she was on the swim team and spent much of her life swimming in her parents' pool, where she is photographed. She was recently the subject of the documentary TransMormon, featured on Upworthy, and works for a holistic health company.

Photographed in Indianapolis

Sister Estelle is an Episcopal nun who is currently renovating an old Victorian home as a safe home for people in transition.

Photographed in East Schaumburg, Ill.

Fallon is a professional mixed martial arts fighter from the Chicago area. She has also been involved with national trans advocacy efforts and regularly writes for national LGBT media.

Photographed in Cullowhee, N.C.

Kaleb is a professional cat rescuer in North Carolina. He manages a shelter in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains, where he takes care of more than 70 cats and kittens. He lives in a small apartment on the shelter property and works tirelessly to take care of the shelter cats while rescuing cats from the local animal shelter. In his limited spare time, he likes dancing to Olivia Newton-John in his apartment.

Photographed in Longmont, Colo.

Kallie is a veteran, engineer, and aspiring professional cyclist. She is passionate about trans military rights and says that she would go back to serving her country in a heartbeat if the military were to change its policies regarding trans people.

Photographed in Columbus, Ohio

Lana is a third-generation firefighter who is in her 34th year of service. She was promoted to lieutenant in 1992 and to captain in 2000. Recently, she started volunteering as a mentor for a local court program that helps women who are survivors of human trafficking and are in the court system move forward with their lives in a positive way. She also serves on the national board of directors for GLAAD.

Photographed in Washington, D.C.

Landon is a former sailor and trans military activist. His story made headlines when he was discharged from the military for being trans after being up from a promotion while he was deployed. Since returning from deployment and leaving the military, he has been an outspoken activist for changing the military's policies and allowing for open trans service. He also loves animals and has an adorable dog named Maizie.

Photographed in Albuquerque, N.M.

Mattee is a Native woman living who is doing HIV/AIDS work for a Native nonprofit health center in Albuquerque. She identifies first and foremost as Dine, which is a Navajo word that means "of the people."

Photographed in Random Lake, Wis.

Natalie is a wildlife biologist who has recently been studying mink populations along the Sheboygan River. She is also a bow hunter and does falconry. She is pictured here with her bird Bam Bam. In addition to her love for all things outdoor, she volunteers her time with several national organizations, including an organization that helps survivors of domestic violence.

Photographed in Oklahoma City, Okla.

Tracy is a transgender-expressive novelist from Dallas/Waxahachie, Texas. She is also a blogger, reviewer, former actor, and artist. She writes true-to-life stories, novels, and screenplays with real characters set in realistic situations. In terms of genre, she writes interracial/multicultural romance and drama with an LGBT twist. Her writing portfolio includes four novels, two original screenplay projects, and a collection of short stories.

Photographed in Cleveland

Zoe is an amazing DJ, photographer, and activist. She spins every Saturday night at a Cleveland nightclub and is also involved with local activist efforts to assist trans women of color in the area and nationwide.

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