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Beautiful Photography Project Celebrates The Diversity Of Gender Expression All Around The World

“You are as you say you are, as you feel you are."

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Bernd Ott / Via Pictured Above: Nando

Writer Emily Besa and photographer Bernd Ott have spent the better part of the last year and a half traveling around the world (5 major cities in 4 different countries so far) speaking with individuals about how they personally define and express their own gender identity. "A lot of projects we found tend to focus on one aspect of being non-binary or non-conforming and we were particularly interested in relating the infinite possibilities of gender expression and identity," Besa, one half of the team behind the All The People project, told BuzzFeed. "From the beginning we wanted to avoid any kind of labeling or categorization."

The assortment of portraits and interviews debuted as a "work in progress" when presented at Amsterdam's TransPride this past weekend. Besa spoke with BuzzFeed about her work on the project, as well as her hopes for the upcoming finished book.

"We wanted each person to bring something of their own to the project, so it was collaborative in all ways — everyone decided where they were photographed and how they presented themselves."

"I didn't work with a set of questions in the interview, it was more of a conversation that the interviewee led. Everyone was free to share whatever they wanted, and a good part of the written pieces in the book are in the person's own voice."

"Gender identity and expression are truly unique to the individual. And gender is a deeply personal and often intimate aspect of one's identity. How can anyone be questioned or challenged in this way?"

"You are as you say you are, as you feel you are."

"If anything surprised me, it was encountering such lightness, positivity, insight, and strength over and over again in people who are often challenged in day-to-day life by insensitivity, ignorance, and prejudice."

"We hope that in looking at the photos and reading the stories, people will recognize something in themselves and move closer to understanding that we are more alike than different," Besa said of her expectations for the book.

"We hope that people will be able to overcome any misgivings, fears, and misconceptions they may have and connect in some way with each and every one of the people in the book."

Besa and Ott currently have a Kickstarter campaign underway to help with printing costs. They plan to launch the final book in the five cities featured: Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Los Angeles, and New York City.

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