Following in the footsteps of Vanity Fair, Time, Harper's Bazaar, Women's Running and Men's Health, the magazine National Geographic has stepped out with an important front cover shoot for its January 2017 edition featuring Avery Jackson, a young transgender child photographed by Robin Hammond.
Two such photo shoots were conceived for National Geographic's trans-identity special edition, one for the front cover, and another within the magazine. The first is of Avery Jackson, the second features a group of young people displaying the diversity of the spectrum of gender.
It is this diversity that is the focus of the magazine's special edition, tackling cultural, social, personal and biological problems, but above all giving a voice to transgender, intersex, nonbinary, gender fluid and androgynous people among others. Editor in Chief at National Geographic Susan Goldberg told NBC Out:
"We wanted to look at how traditional gender roles play out all over the world, but also look into gender as a spectrum. There's lots of coverage on celebrities, but there wasn't an understanding on real people and the issues we face every day in classrooms or workplaces in regards to gender."
The magazine includes articles including "Dangerous Lives of Girls" following the daily lives of women Sierra Leone, "Rethinking Gender" examining the science that might enable us to navigate the changing landscape of trans identity, or "How Today's Toys May Be Harming Your Daughter's Brain".
Journalists spoke to more than 100 children and teenagers from across the globe in order to gather personal and varying accounts of their experiences.
National Geographic has also produced a two-hour long documentary entitled Gender Revolution: A Journey with Katie Couric exploring "Everything you wanted to know about gender but were afraid to ask." The documentary is released on 6 February 2017.
Goldberg has said that she hopes that readers will open their eyes to questions of gender, and that the work produced by the magazine will be a learning experience, and that all those who do not identify with a 'traditional' gender norm will read the magazine and watch the documentary.
Avery Jackson, 9 years old
A few years ago Avery Jackson announced to her parents that she wanted to be a girl. After consultations with a psychiatrist who warned her parents of the risks of letting a child grow up in a gender that did not correspond correctly, she began her transition. In the video below Jackson spoke of the pain of having to hide from her parents that she knew that she was really a girl, dressing up as a princess behind closed doors.
Questions of gender are at the forefront of contemporary debate, but are rarely investigated in such an in-depth and sincere manner.