Singapore-based photographer Grace Baey spent a month getting to know, and photographing, Myanmar’s trans men and women.
‘I’ve been working with the trans community in Singapore for several years now, and was curious to learn more about what the dynamics were like in [Myanmar’s biggest city] Yangon’ the photographer told Gay Star News.
Her ongoing photo project explores the lives of transgender communities in Southeast Asia.
Myanmar criminalizes ‘carnal intercourse against the order of nature’. The British introduced it in 1860 and those found guilty face up to 10 years in jail. It is the same law India’s Supreme Court recently ruled was unconstitutional.
‘International media portrayals about the trans community in Yangon tend to focus predominantly on issues of harassment, abuse and discrimination’ explained Baey.
‘It struck me that there’s so much happening on the ground that doesn’t get reported’ she said. ‘So I decided to start on a clean slate and learn through meeting as many people from the community as I could’.
In her photography series, Baey highlights the ‘resilience, courage, and camaraderie that defines the trans community in Yangon’.
‘I was interested to learn about the different kinds of familial support and social networks that the community has established against the backdrop of societal stigma and discrimination’.
She deliberately reached out to trans men and women from different backgrounds to get a fuller picture of the community.
Despite recent arrests under 377, Myanmar’s LGBTI community has seen signs of progress.
This year, the country celebrated its first public LGBTI pride event in its largest city, Yangon. Baey described the festival as ‘truly invigorating’.