24 year old pansexual African-American woman of trans-experience Sophia Lee in Queens, New York. Assistant: Alison Lippy, Allison@allisonlippy.com, Phone +1 410 967 1096. Photography and video by Robin Hammond, pitures@robinhammond.co.uk. Editor: Mallory Benedict, Mallory.Benedict@natgeo.com, +1 202.791.1282. 06 February 2019

Sophia /

“Life is full of sacrifices and the unfortunate reality for many LGBT youth is that they have to sacrifice so many things just to live authentically. For me, I’ve had to sacrifice the love of my father. My father doesn’t even want to be in the same room as me or speak to me on the phone. He sees my potential as a person, to do whether I set my mind to. But I’m not even worthy of respect anymore. And it’s sad. Because I think of all the youth who can change the world, but life and their families have let them down. Nobody understands what it’s like to have the people who love and are responsible for you, just give up on you. Often times it can make you give up on yourself. You question: am I even worth anything? Am I even worth living? All it takes is for someone to say you matter, to tell you that they love you. The love and acceptance we forget we need is from ourselves. That’s what I’ve forgotten all this time. I’ve struggled with my life and loving myself so I focused on loving people who really didn’t care about me. In my mind I wasn’t worthy of it. It took a lot of time to realize that when I love myself. I can do anything. I can prove to the people who doubt people like me wrong. I can even surprise myself.”

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