In modern society, we are often posed the question of what it means to be male or female. That’s exactly what Italian photographer Francesa De Chirico (b. 1995) is trying to establish in her latest series, Portrait of a Gender, via the documentation of the long, arduous process of hormone treatment, gender surgery and concept of being a stranger in one’s own body.
After meeting Nicole, a transgender girl, in a nightclub in Italy, De Chirico quickly became transfixed with her and began recording her subject’s battles with gender by photographing her in a wide range of different situations throughout the gruelling time spent between genders. The result is this incredibly stylish yet rounded and thought-provoking project, documenting Nicole’s struggles with identity.
A conclusive and thorough documentation, simultaneously intimate, challenging and deeply sensitive, we are offered an unrestricted view of not just Nicole’s body and the physical changes one has to go through in order to change gender but also symbolic images of her finding her femininity juxtaposed against pictures of her daily life, childhood and medical past, which speaks volumes of how important it is to have harmony between how one looks and feels.