From the moment photographer Charlotte Hadden started her project Between, in which she photographs transgender children in the U.K., she knew exactly how she wanted to approach the subject: on the children's own terms. "With all the misunderstanding surrounding young gender-questioning and trans people, I wanted to give them an opportunity to share their stories," Hadden tells Refinery29.
She sees transgender children as having to live double lives, "not only adjusting to growing and maturing as a person, but [also] battling to become the person they feel inside and to have the freedom to express that." With that in mind, Hadden aimed to give them a chance to be their whole selves in front of the camera.
By setting up in the children's homes and taking plenty of time to get to know them, Hadden makes her process as unobtrusive as possible — and makes sure that the children are part of it. She only takes a photo when it feels right, when the kids are totally comfortable with her.
Between doesn't make any grand, sweeping generalizations about the transgender experience. Instead, it highlights the regular, everyday lives of its subjects, from how they talk about their gender identity to how they spend time at home. "I want the viewer to look at the portraits and to just see them for the fun, awkward, amazing kids that they are," Hadden says.
Parents can get in direct contact with Hadden (whose project is ongoing) through Mermaids, a U.K.-based organization that provides support for transgender children. She says that their interest in her work — and the kids' willingness to share — has overwhelmed her in the best possible way.
"I’ve been really moved by how open they have been with me," Hadden says. "The courage it takes to talk to a loved one about your gender, and how you might be questioning it, I just can't even imagine. [The children] are all incredibly smart and open."
Ahead, four of the kids Hadden has photographed talk with their parents about coming out.
Gender and sexual orientation are both highly personal and constantly evolving. So, in honor of Transgender Awareness Week, we're talking about the importance of language and raising the voices of the LGBTQIA community. Welcome to Gender Nation, where gender is defined by the people who live it. Want to learn more? Check out our Gender Nation glossary. For more stories on our many paths to, through, or away from parenthood, check out Mothership.