I recently purchased a wonderful photographic book titled “TransCuba” by New York-based photographer Mariette Patty Allen. The book contains 80 photographs of transgender women and men and the spaces they live and work in within Cuba, and brings to focus in sharp, living color a tiny window into their lives.
The photographs tell a tale of an incredibly strong people, who not only must survive in the third-world conditions of Cuba, but must also survive as transgender people. Unfortunately, most of the subjects happen to be prostitutes, as the discrimination which they face denies them most other occupations. And even in the “Socialist paradise” of Cuba, one must work to have any kind of life over a bare sustenance level, especially if they are supporting a family.
The photographs are reminiscent of those of Christer Strömholm and his photographs of French transwomen prostitutes from the 1950’s and 1960’s, but where in that case the black and white media gave a sense of unreality to the photographs, in this case the bold color of the images does the opposite. I’ve included some samples of the photographs from the book so you can get a feel for the scope and detail of Ms. Allen’s work. You can see them at the link below.