Sara Swaty

Hayley to Harrison
Location: Los Angeles
Nationality: American
Biography: Sara Swaty is a Los Angeles based people and portrait photographer with a BFA in Photography from Rochester Institute of Technology. Her work explores identity, gender, and disability. At the Eddie Adams Workshop in 2015, Sara was awarded the... MORE
Public Story
Hayley to Harrison
Copyright Sara Swaty 2023
Date of Work Jul 2011 - Ongoing
Updated Oct 2018
Topics Gay Rights, Photography

See the Reuters story here.

When we first met at a St. Louis high school in 2006, Harrison was still Hayley. Years later, I learned he was transitioning from female to male. Our first shoot was just days after his “T–party,” a celebration marking his first testosterone shot and the beginning of hormone replacement therapy.

Since 2011, I’ve photographed Harrison’s transformational journey, documenting how physical changes impact and reaffirm personal identity.  Accompanying him on his journey is a gift. As time went on, the process became a visual conversation—a unique collaboration between the two of us.

The locations of our sessions changed each week. Different friends would fight over who would administer his testosterone shots next, whether in a bar bathroom, alley, or a front porch.

Testosterone works very quickly, with physical changes apparent after only one month. With each session, I noticed his arms growing bigger, his face slimming, and hair slowly sprouting in new places.

Witnessing the human body change, emotions fluctuate, and mentality begin to meld with one’s physical appearance is an amazing and radiant process. It calls into question the definition of what a man or woman is or is supposed to be? How they fit into society with pre-determined roles, responsibilities, and expectations, and test the gender boundaries culture places on individuals. Gender is not a male-female binary, but actually an infinite and beautiful gradient.

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Hayley to Harrison by Sara Swaty
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