2018 - Ongoing
Portraits of people adopting expressions of gender different from that of their birth – French Polynesia, Fiji and New Caledonia.
In Pacific cultures, the question of gender offers a perspective which is often wider and more idyllic than in other societies.
In French Polynesia, tradition dictates that people are born man, woman or mahu (effeminate man). These three genders are all afforded an accepted and respected position in society. However, this three-gender system does not account for the scope of transgender identity. RaeRae (men who behave as and consider themselves to be women) follow paths which, whilst sometimes happy, are often more chaotic. Marginalised, they often find themselves forced into night time work, or even sex work.
In 1997, Fiji became one of the first countries to write transgender rights into its constitution. Confirmed in 2013, the legislation also banned discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or expression.
Nonetheless, same-sex marriage is still forbidden and a high number of cases of discrimination and gender-related crimes continue to be reported.
In New Caledonia, patriarchal and matriarchal lines strongly ingrained in the Kanak societal system make positions other than masculine or feminine gender difficult.
These portraits express the identities of transgender women who describe their journeys, their integration issues or difficulties faced in their youth and their everyday life associated with their status.
The photographer adopts the role of showing the femininity expressed out with the assigned gender. The detail calls for a subjective examination of the figure.
The issue of how we see others is also raised, evoking a distortion of the other's image through the bias of one's own perceptions. This image is often discordant with the true identity of the person observed.