A Medellin photo exhibition featuring transgender models has been opened to an international audience, after the city government created an online portal to view the works.
The virtual publication followed Tuesday’s opening of the “EX-SISTENCIAS, RE-XSISTENCIAS” show at the city’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, at which members of the public had the opportunity to meet the models and organizers.
As well as the photo display, the event featured a group discussion in which some of the models spoke about their experiences establishing their transgender identity, inviting questions and comments from the audience afterwards.
The exhibition was rehoused in the center as part of Sexual and Gender Diversity Week, having previously been displayed at Medellin’s Casa Cultural Plazarte in April.
The project was the work of photographer Daniela Sanchez and Creative Director Aaron Zea, in collaboration with transgender organization Transcity, a collective of 15 transgender women established in 2010 to defend and promote transgender rights in the community.
Speaking at the exhibition, Aaron Zea said: “Daniela and I had already decided upon doing a project on the transgender community in Medellin when we found out about Transcity. We sat down with them and discussed the idea of producing a gallery to highlight transgender rights, their right to claim public space and their position within the community.”
The exhibition features eleven individual works themed not only on the right to public space and the place of transgender people in civil life, but also promoting unity within the transgender community.
Transcity founder Lillith Natasha Border Line, who served as artistic advisor for the exhibition, explained: “Our aspiration is to communicate with the entire transgender population, whether it is hormone users, hormone-free, operated, or non-operated, to encourage them to recognize each other as trans, to fight together and to educate and sensitize the citizens of Medellin on the subject of trans identity.”
She added: “We are discriminated against, rejected, excluded and still do not have full access to education or decent work. We have made some achievements, but we still have to fight to get work, to get contracts […] only three I know are in higher education. Many girls want to finish high school, to begin to change, to escape the stigma and the image of our lives. We don’t all want to be prostitutes and stylists.”
The online publication forms part of the continued work by the city government to support the LGBT community in Medellin, following May 2011 legislation designed to establish and maintain sexual diversity rights. The legislation was followed by the opening of the center in August last year.
EX-SISTENCIAS, RE-XSISTENCIAS will be housed at the Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, Carrera 48 # 57-21, until July 18 and is open to the public Monday to Friday 8am – 5.30pm. The city government’s online gallery can be found here.