Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The secret lives of transgender Mongolians

In Mongolia, gay, lesbian and transsexual people endure violence, discrimination and social repression, which leads many of them to dream of life away from its borders. The community draws from a variety of social classes and professions -- teachers, social workers, tour guides -- but what they all have in common is a life of solitude and constant concealment of their true identity. Being revealed as transgender can cost a person their job, and lead their family to sever all ties with them.

Spanish photographer Alvaro Laiz spent three and a half months documenting the lives of male to female transgender people in Ulaanbaatar, intrigued by how they saw themselves in the larger fiber of society. "I decided to travel to Mongolia because it's located in the junction in between three different worlds -- Russia, Europe and China, while still retaining its own identity," says Laiz. "The country is facing sudden changes after opening their borders to Western investment, but on the other hand, their nomadic and communist heritage still remains. It is this duplicity in their contemporary time that fascinated me," he explains.

Interview by Milena Veselinovic

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