66 year-old, white trans woman Joann Sullivan at home in Titusville, Florida. Joann is single, retired and lives alone. Behind the scenes photography and video and assistant: Juan Pablo Ampudia, juanpablo@cuartocreativo.com. Phone +52 1 55 8676 5741. Photography by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 26 March 2019

Joann Sullivan /

“The most important event in my life

It was around the end of July in 1989. I had a mental break down and was placed in the psychiatric ward at Florida Hospital in Orlando. I couldn’t stop crying. All those feelings that I had bottled up for tens of years came rushing out all at once.

I knew that I was different from about the age of five or six. At that age I didn’t know why but I felt different. In retrospect it all makes sense. My teachers told my parents that I kept playing with girls. My parents told me to play with boys. From about that time I started holding feelings in. I did the boy things people wanted me to do and I kept pushing my feelings inward. On the outside I did the things that boys and men were supposed to do. This continued for 30 years until July of 1989. That first day in the hospital all my thoughts and actions of wanting to be a women came gushing out.

That is now old history, but it was the day that I let my feelings out. It was the day that my new life began.”

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