Even today, services to proceed with gender confirmation surgery in Oslo, Norway, remain slow, convoluted and discriminatory. Applicants are forced to endure endless waiting lists for assessment and treatment, which in most cases is still denied. A 2017 report indicates that the country’s only government funded clinic providing the necessary treatment, in Oslo, accepts about a quarter of annual applications.
In 2015, Hedda, the book’s main character, began her gender affirmation journey in Norway, traveling between Oslo, Buenos Aires and Bangkok to undergo surgery and vaginoplasty.
Serck-Hanssen and Hedda worked together to construct a complex portrait of both the physical and psychological changes involved in transition. The result is a collaborative story that acknowledges the pain – the bandages, the bruises, the sterile hospital environment – but also sensitively uncovers the beauty and strength in this crucial moment in Hedda’s life.
The selfies, taken by the protagonist and included in the book, remind us that Hedda has a daily life very similar to that of any other young woman. The mirror and the mobile phone, here, are not vain tools but a guide to deconstructing one’s identity in order to fabricate a new one.
Many of the photographs – including the one on the cover – are veiled by several layers of black ink, hiding the images in which Hedda felt uncomfortable. They are dark, tangible traces of the path of this identity in the making, of what Hedda chose to keep to herself.
Edited by Tommaso Speretta and Linda van Deursen