Photographer Chloe Aftel
says she "always felt that gender was not a binary." Her portraits of people who identify as genderqueer showcase that belief beautifully.
Aftel's portraits, taken mostly on the West Coast, feature subjects who seem totally at ease with who they are. She found and reached out to them with help from people in the genderqueer community, and they represent a variety of backgrounds and ages, though Aftel expressed a desire to continue capturing more diverse subjects.
"I would love to have an even wider range and much more ethnic diversity," she told Refinery29. "I would love to have people well into their 80s. It is striking seeing the different ways generations have dealt with gender identity and societal pressures."
Though genderqueer individuals are still some of the least visible in the LGBT community, they've become more prominent in the last few years. This past fall, MTV's True Life
aired an episode titled "I'm Genderqueer
," which highlighted two young people who were dealing with family members who had trouble understanding or accepting their genderqueer identity. And recently, celebrities like Ruby Rose and Miley Cyrus have said they don't want to define themselves as being only
male or only
As for Aftel, she said that photographing genderqueer subjects has allowed her to learn that sexuality and identity are both "deeply personal and subjective."
"It was moving to see the peace and joy each subject felt in being able to be their true selves rather than what, often times, was decades of pretending to be someone else," she said.
Click through to see a selection of Aftel's work.