back to top

This Stunning Photo Series Features Trans People Sharing Their Stories In Their Own Words

“Anyone you meet can be trans and guess what? We’re beautiful, awesome, exquisite, and strong humans.”

Posted on

The Transilient photo project, which features interviews with transgender and gender-nonconforming people living all over the United States, is attempting to change the narrative around the trans community — one interview at a time.

Basil Soper and Johanna Case, the couple behind the project, hit the road for two months in summer 2016 with their dog in tow, interviewing trans and gender-nonconforming people from all walks of life.

Originally from North Carolina, Soper told BuzzFeed News he was inspired to start the project after the passing of HB2 — a piece of legislation that impacted his life directly as a trans man.

"The law also publicized a surge of trans stories written from the cis gaze everywhere I looked," Soper said.

"With this project, we really wanted to find a way of having the trans community represent its self in its own words," Case added.

Soper and Case found participants mostly through social media — searching Twitter hashtags and chatting with trans-specific Facebook groups. Once an individual was confirmed, they were added to the trip's itinerary.

The couple hope the project will open the public's eyes to the simple fact that trans people live, work, and build their lives absolutely everywhere. "The goal was to change people's minds," they said.

The couple wanted to hear stories connected to identity, but also occasionally not. "I wanted to help express other facets of trans people’s identities," said Soper.

"It felt important to showcase what makes us happy, what we do for fun, what our dreams are, who we love, and generally what we bring to the world," added Case.

"We believed the stories needed to go beyond the binary and beyond people’s bodies — because the trans community is so much more than their bodies."


The interviews were open, candid conversations that covered topics ranging from the person's hopes and dreams to their daily self-care regimens.

Samson, pictured above, lives in Columbia, South Carolina. In his interview, he discusses the meaning behind his favorite tattoo:

“It says 'Hallelujah' written backwards in mirror letters. My wife just asked me about it this morning and I always kind of dismiss it and am like, 'Ah. It’s kind of important — I got it, whatever.' I just told her what it was about. I got it the day after I finished my last round of chemotherapy. I wasn’t supposed to because with chemo you’re not supposed to get a tattoo, but I did it anyway."

Julisa was interviewed in Detroit, Michigan, and describes her frustration over the lack of resources available for those who are struggling:

"I don’t want to sound ungrateful, but a lot of the resources here aren’t great. The food boxes help me, but what about homeless trans women? What homeless person you know, carries around a can opener in their purse? Where are they taking this food box? To an abandoned building without water and electricity? Where are you taking this food now? In the summer? I know a lot of my homegirls who were putting their food in a room and it was freezing outside so it wouldn’t spoil. In the wintertime that was okay.

"Organizations help us to an extent but do not fully understand what we need.

I speak three languages, I have a college education, and I type 85 words a minute. There is no reason that I should not be able to get an opportunity. I can help. I know what we need!"

Tygra lives in Omaha, Nebraska. In her interview, she describes her Midwestern community:

"I love my Omaha community, love them to death, but they’re not trans friendly, and the thing is — Omaha has a really big trans community. Everyone here is 'kinda' loving just depending on who you decide to talk to and be friends with."

"Now more than ever, it's vital that the trans community has an opportunity to represent themselves, accurately and honestly," said Soper.