Photographer Paola de Grenet is the Edge of Humanity Magazine contributor of this social documentary photography. From her project ‘Life as a Transsexual‘. To see Paola’s body of work click on any image.
Barcelona is a liberal city with a vast community of gays, travesties and transsexuals. It is a colorful microcosm in which it’s easy to lose oneself.
What hides behind the makeup, the exuberant clothes, the laughter and the outrageous behavior is a world of fragile and yet strong beings that constantly fight with the uncertainty of their life. Striving to be loved, they desired to have a normal life.
The project is an investigation into their social life, their relationships, their dreams and their fears!
Although in some parts of Spain it is possible to undergo the sex exchange operation through the national health system, only few can afford to wait the many years of constant checkups, which are procedure for being put on a waiting list for the operation.
Eventually many opt for prostitution to pay for the numerous surgical interventions, hormone injections and often some spare money to send to their families.
The first part of the project focuses on life as a transsexual prostitute.
Along the walls of a cemetery in Camp Nou, a man has been providing the girls with food, cooked by his wife, for about 20 years. Every night he prepares them a fire, table and chairs and sells them everything they could possibly need, from chocolate to condoms. A paragraph of this session deals with working in a brothel. Some girls live there for short periods of time that can vary from a week to a month. They go and often come back after a month to then go again. Others have their own flats and only go to the brothel to do their 8 hours of work.
The second part intends to get closer to some of these girls documenting their personal lives.
I learnt that you respect instead of fearing what you know.
One of the girls is Maria del Mar. She worked in the army for 9 years. Her efforts helped to create new laws, which would protect transsexual’s rights to medical assistance within the army. Maria now works in the catering industry and still lives with her mother, grandmother and sister in the hope to save enough money for the operation.
Carolina instead has already managed to save the necessary amount and two years ago she underwent sex exchange. She worked extremely hard as a waitress and performer. She tells me that it would have been impossible without the love of her partner and her understanding family.
Debora is 25, she came from Brazil with her boyfriend of 7 years. She invested most of her money into eight surgical operations. Debora travels extensively around Spain and dreams of stopping prostituting herself to be able to start her own business.
Lays also came from Brazil, a village 40km from Sao Paulo. She came with other four friends; they all work in the same brothel. She is portrayed at home posing with her accessories on X-Mas Eve.
By Paola de Grenet