About Max ist Marie

‘Max is Marie. My son is my daughter is my child’ is a photo and text project about and for transgender people.

An endeavour that started with a photo shoot with my daughter, who once seemed to be my son.

The project has been shown and discussed in several exhibitions and in the media since its inception. Thank you!

With this project, I would like to show the trans* topic as the ‘normal’, that it is, as something that people who didn’t deal with it before can and should understand. Something that is simply, as it is.

‘Max is Marie’ is about people who were born in the wrong gender. People, who already noticed as a child, that they are different from all the other boys, all the other girls, with whom they should actually identify. The other children, with whom they wanted to play and yet could only do so if they pretended. This project is about people for whom the ‘self-portrayal’, the ‘adaptation’ to the sex in which they were born, became a pattern of life that costs indescribable strength and from which they must break out at some point in order to be able to survive.

We, and especially, of course, our daughter, have experienced so much since the transgender topic became part of our family. Our daughter had to experience so much hurt, not only through people but also through institutions such as her health insurance.

There had to be the prospect of changing something, at least on a small scale. The thought that one had to show the world somehow how transgender people work would not leave me. Since pictures are my language, the idea developed into a perceptive photo project. Supported with conversations.

The enormous response that Marie and I have received from all sides since the first blog entry shows how important such a project is.

From May 2014, I visited transgender people for two years who had contacted me because they believed that ‘Max is Marie’ could make a difference. I travelled all over Germany and abroad to portray them.

In my pictures, I show transgender people in their immediate environment.

People who have gone to college or not, with or without education. With a partner, with a child, with a dog or living alone. Just people. With everything that makes them feel good and grants them a feeling of security – and with everything that burdens them. My pictures emphasize the normality of these lives.

The corresponding texts are different. Behind every person, there is a story. The stories that transgender people have to tell are impressive and thought provoking. They deal with wrongs, self-doubt – and with an incredible amount of courage and strength. But also about little islands of happiness in everyday life and about people who are there for other.

For this project, a black-and-white pictorial language seemed obvious to me.

It reflects all our black-and-white thinking when it comes to being different.

At the same time, it concentrates on the essential; nothing distracts from gestures, facial expression, and faces.

‘Max is Marie’ is an empathic project.
It wants to show: Transgender people do not become special simply because they are transgender. And they can’t be put in a drawer.

‘We are no more a homogeneous group than, for example, redheads,’ as one trans-man, whom I was allowed to portray, described it.

I hope that my portraits can make a contribution to the world we live in becoming more open to people who have a special story to tell.

Since 2015, ‘Max is Marie’ has been touring all over Germany as a travelling exhibition.
Thank you for all your support and openness. Thanks to all visitors of the exhibitions and this website. Thanks to all the people who open their hearts.

For the pictures and stories, I would now like to find a book publisher willing to design a very special illustrated book.

If you, as a gallery owner or curator, would like to realize a perceptive exhibition, I look forward to receiving your inquiry.

So that we can move, even more, we need your support: Please share on all channels that are available to you and become a fan on Facebook.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Kathrin Stahl