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Live With It

Sima Ajlyakin

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“Live With It” is a series of photographs that documents various of aspects of the transgender community in Lebanon - from the glamour of their lives to the struggles they face. Lebanon’s seemingly open-minded and socially liberal reputation contradicts the lived reality of transgender individuals who are judged and mistreated by their peers, family members, coworkers, and society in general.

Throughout the past few years and particularly since the start of the Arab Spring, topics such as refugees, victims of conflict, and women’s rights have been covered by the media and photojournalists, helping to raise awareness on various issues. Though these topics are crucial and important, many other stories are untouched and underexposed and the experiences of transgender people in the Arab world is one of them.

Getting close to these individuals has allowed me to gain their trust and get an insight on the lives of their day to day lives, exploring their journey and struggles. They are unable to express who they are, hiding their identities inside their homes, struggling to be respected in the workforce or find a job, or simply strolling around the streets. To put it simply, I’ve come to notice such individuals are not treated as respected as human beings in the Lebanese society.

More than following a trend, my work explores lives of transgender individuals who gave me the opportunity to enter their personal space and view the way they live their lives. They are courageous enough to narrate their stories in order to shed light on the need for a change and acceptance in our society. Most importantly, they create space for others in similar situations to speak out. This project is dedicated to all those under external pressure for being themselves and pursuing their beliefs. My goal with this work has been to represent the honest relationship these individuals have with themselves, and feel the inspiration I felt and still feel for them.

Lebanon

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Sima Ajlyakin

Lebanon

Sima Ajlyakin, born in Syria, made her first photographs during her visits to her hometown in Hama and Damascus in 2008. Around the same time, she moved to Beirut as a university student and began selling her work in galleries, eventually dedicating herself to photography full time and moving to New York City to pursue a degree at the New York Film Academy. The following years, Sima immersed herself in fashion photography, going behind the scenes, helping with editorials, and experimenting with new photography styles. In her documentation of Lebanon's underground LGBTQ community, she bypassed the glamorous and delved deeply into her subjects' personal lives to capture them in their intimate surroundings.

www.sima-ajlyakin.com