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‘Revealing Selves: Transgender Portraits from Argentina’

El Gondolín. Once a family-run hotel in the Villa Crespo neighborhood of central Buenos Aires, El Gondolín is now inhabited by about 50 transgender women, most of them underprivileged migrants from northern Argentina. (Copyright © 2018 by Kike Arnal. These images originally appeared in Revealing Selves: Transgender Portraits from Argentina, published by The New Press. Reprinted here with permission.)

‘Revealing Selves: Transgender Portraits from Argentina’ — Photographs by Kike Arnal

Argentina was the first Latin American nation to legalize same-sex marriage. It also passed legislation that made it one of the most advanced countries in world in terms of transgender rights — the culmination of a long battle fought by LGBTQ support groups. In Revealing Selves: Transgender Portraits from Argentina (The New Press, April 2018), award-winning photographer Kike Arnal collaborated with people in the country’s transgender communities, living among them and documenting their day-to-day lives in a series of strikingly intimate black-and-white images. This is Arnal’s second photobook with The New Press. His first, Bordered Lives , focused on the LGBTQ community in Mexico.

Revealing Selves documents a former sex worker who is now a recognized leader of the Buenos Aires trans community, a single trans mother of three teenage girls whose partner had fallen victim to drug abuse, and the residents of El Gondolín, a small, derelict family hotel now inhabited by trans women. While these and other stories in this book demonstrate the progress that has been made, the situation in Argentina is far from perfect. Trans people are still discriminated against and subject to verbal violence, physical assault, and police abuse. Of interest to LGBTQ activists and photography enthusiasts alike, Revealing Selves is both a celebration of the trans community in Argentina and a clear-eyed examination of what remains to be done in the struggle for trans rights.

Originally from Venezuela, Kike Arnal is now based in the San Francisco area. He has covered stories in the Americas, the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, and his photographs have been featured in the New York TimesLife, and Mother Jones, among other leading publications. He has directed and produced video documentaries, including Yanomami Malaria for the Discovery Channel. Arnal’s photographs have been collected in Bordered Lives: Transgender Portraits from Mexico and In the Shadow of Power.

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