hennie swan photography
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December 27, 2021
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Hennie Swan Is Using Photography To Normalize Trans Bodies

Representation goes a long way for normalization and acceptation. And Hennie Swan is here to give us more trans representation.

We are all aware of the rampant transphobia that has been growing in our society with the increasing visibility of trans issues in mainstream media and some countries accepting laws supporting trans rights - like France recently rendering conversion therapy illegal; which is not to say that France is a trans-friendly country.

Nevertheless, the representation we access in mainstream media is often full of false information and downright problematic. We have talked about this with the ‘Disclosure’ documentary, pointing out that trans representation in the media is a history of ridicule and fetishization. The need for diverse, accurate, humane and overall more trans representation is urgent.

Especially as false information continues to be used to transphobic ends and a lot of people have zero to none knowledge on trans people’s experiences. How often do you see trans people being depicted in the media, and their bodies are presented as just bodies? But not fetishized, objectified or ridiculed? Almost never - except when trans people produce the content themselves.

Which leads us to our project of the day, Hennie Swan’s photography. Post-graduate of Nottingham Trent University in Photography, they have been working a lot on trans representation and trans bodies. Their goal is to ‘normalise the visual perception of a trans person and the body they inhabit’ (NTU, 2021).

To this end, they have produced a photo series called ‘Normal Bodies’, picturing trans people and their bodies. The photographs are sweet, soft and genuine black and white portraits, displaying human experiences and moments of connection. The use of analogue film also gives a little bit of historic vibes, anchoring trans representation in a past, from which they have been purposefully erased.

What more to say? Go see their work and support them. We need to take a stand and support trans rights. Trans rights are human rights.

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