Sasja van Vechgel


Transcending Gender; An Intimate Encounter

It’s not easy being an LGBT person in Indonesia, and it’s only gotten harder since the start of 2016, when the rights of sexual and gender minorities in Indonesia have received much negative attention.

Transgenders as well as the larger LGBT community found themselves at the centre of a religious, political and social media storm. Coming from different island in Indonesia the young transgenders in these photo series hope to find their luck in Jakarta and make a living through sex work. The negative consequences of stigmatisation however, create even more economic dependence, a lower self esteem and lack of access to healthcare, which greatly increases their risk on HIV. Drawing the viewer into the core of their being, it is obvious that the body and minds are feminine which at the same time is also the reason for all the difficulties encountered.

Currently in Indonesia the HIV/Aids prevalence amongst the transgender community lies around 30% and is rising with age.

Sasja van Vechgel

Dutch photographer Sasja van Vechgel‘s (1975) main interest as a photographer is looking into what defines a human being. “I like to tell stories about stigmatized minority people and groups and to show the universality and normality in their specific ways of life. To that end, I especially explore their intimacy and daily lives”. Characteristic for Sasja’s work is the combination of documentary photography (often focused on human rights and health issues) with an artsy flavour.

After completing her master’s degree in Human Geography at the University of Amsterdam, she turned her passion for photography into her profession. She has been living and working in Bangladesh, Cameroon, Tanzania, Indonesia and Denmark for the past 18 years.

Her work has won several international awards and nominations: Sony World Photography Award, Julia Margaret Cameron Award, and HPA/UNESCO Folklore award. In 2010 she published a coffee-table book.