Powerful Photos Show Two Trans* Teens Growing Up & Finding Themselves

Adolescence is a notoriously difficult stage of development. At the same time as teens' bodies are changing in foreign (and often anxiety-provoking) ways, that tricky mental process of carving out an identity apart from our families kicks into high gear. The gauntlet from age 12 to young adulthood is even harder for those who were assigned one gender but identify as another.
Drawn to subjects "whose lives have taken a significantly different turn than most people’s lives," photographer Willeke Duijvekam gravitated toward two individuals grappling with one of the most central identity questions of all: gender. "Mandy and Eva are girls, even though they were born as boys," Duijvekam explains on her website, describing the two young subjects of her photography book, Mandy and Eva. (It's worth noting that many trans* individuals take issue with this phrasing, specifying that they were not "born as" a certain gender but rather were assigned the label of that gender.) "I followed their lives for six years, through the whole of their adolescence. Two girls, two stories, with perhaps more differences than similarities."
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Duijvekam's sensitive, nuanced shots capture the transitions of Mandy and Eva from girls (whom the world saw as boys) to vibrant young women; they hint at rich inner lives, of which identifying as female is only one part. Click through to view the captivating photographs, with captions by the photographer.
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Eva at the age of 13, when she was called Koos."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Instead of showing the Barbies, Eva hides them in a box."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"At home, Eva helps her mother with household chores. "
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Eva just bought her first pink T-shirts."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Eva is not ready yet to tell the outside world of her gender dysphoria; she wears her new (women's) clothes only indoors."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Eva’s room. It was transformed from blue into pink."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Eva’s first day out in women’s clothing felt still a bit strange."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Eva meets one of her best friends just to hang out."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Eva has a very good relationship with her mother. At home, she can be herself."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Eva at the age of 20."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Mandy at the age of 11. A half-year before [this picture was taken], she told her classmates that she wanted to be girl. She changed her name into a more girlish version: Mickey instead of Mick. It was when she went to high school that she changed her name to Mandy."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Mandy forgets the world around her when she is obsessed with a computer game."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Mandy in her own world."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Mandy hangs out with her best friend."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Checking out others' profile pictures on social media."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Mandy is high-spirited... She feels confident about herself."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Mandy [keeps herself] busy."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"[But, she] can have a bad temper."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Mandy is proud of her new ear piercing."
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Photo: Courtesy Of Willeke Duijvekam.
"Mandy at the age of 18, posing for the camera."
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