I'm Nicole

Francesca De Chirico

2016 - Ongoing


“As I was saying, it costs a lot to be authentic, ma'am. And one can't be stingy with these things because you are more authentic the more you resemble what you've dreamed of being.”

Pedro Almodovar from All About My Mother

In modern society, it’s increasingly common to wonder what it means to be women and men, as if this combination is absolutely closed in its rules. Nowadays “Gender dysphoria”, “sex reassignment”, “queer”, “gender fluid” are being more and more talked about. What's beyond the preconceptions, though?

This is exactly what photographer Francesca De Chirico (b. 1995) is trying to bring into focus in her ongoing series, "I'm Nicole", through the documentation of the long and arduous process of hormone treatment, of the dynamics of gender variance, and the concept of alienation from the own body.

The photographer meets Nicole - a twenty-year-old transsexual girl - in a lounge bar in Italy, and immediately begins an empathic dialogue destined to turn into delicate diary pages. She then records the girl's battles with sex, photographing it in a wide range of situations for the entire grueling time of the transition.

Therefore, we are offered a concise and thorough documentation, at the same time intimate, challenging and deeply sensitive, an unlimited vision of Nicole's body and of the physical changes that need to be metabolized from time to time in order to change biological sex.

It might be said that the transition is somewhat like a second puberty, with the terms of 'experimentation' or 'hyper-feminization'. Space is given not only to moments of daily life, but also to her past, to mark even more the idea of a body in the making, which is looking for its dimension in a life-long journey; in conclusion, "I'm Nicole" aims to be an invitation to seek ourselves and seek harmony between the image of ourselves that the mirror reflects and what we really are beyond reflection.

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  • I. April 2016. Portrait of a gender.

  • II. April 2016: three years after the first pill prescribed by the clinic.

  • III. Vito, 4 years old. This is one of the few paper memories that he has saved from an accident with his father.

  • IV. His daily personal grooming. Vito, eight years old.

  • V. Nicole shows her "imperfections".

  • VI. Snapshot from a bed and breakfast in Naples, where Nicole's clinic is located.

  • VII. Snapshot from a bed and breakfast in Naples, where Nicole's clinic is located.

  • VIII. July 2016, the night before the surgery.

  • IX. Photo op in an art gallery; Nicole asked me to take this picture because she likes eroticism in all its facets.

  • X. The latest last cigarette of the day.

  • XI. Vito and his father.

  • XII. Thursday, July 14, 2016, the day of the operation.

  • XIII. No pain, no perception of a new body. Only exhaustion.

  • XIV. Mary, Nicole’s mum. After a long journey she surprised her while her husband is in the dark.

  • XV. Everyone called her Vivi. Vivi was 15 years old. Her friend gave her clothes, and the elevator of her building became the place of her transformation. She had his and her clothes in the bag.

  • XVI. “The only name I felt on me was Nicole - which is also the name of my muse, Nicole Kidman - even if the indecision was on Sofia, a refined and peaceful name. But my identity card is the only thing I still hide in my messy bag. I'm not officially recognised as a woman and it's always a big deal when I’m stopped by the police”.

  • XVII. December 2016. Nicole at the end of a night in a club with her drag queen team.

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