Lynn Johnson
Lynn Johnson

A child is born. It’s a boy! It’s a girl! Not so fast! In this series, you will meet young people who defy our gender assumptions. While society may promote the gender binary, nature is more varied.

Gender identity is not a choice but a natural path based on many factors—genetics, hormones, environment and culture. Intolerance has consequences, including self-harm and suicide attempts (52% higher than among cisgender teens), which can be traced to condemnation, discrimination and bullying in all areas of family and societal life.

This story, which appeared in National Geographic’s “Gender Revolution” issue, was an opportunity to meet people from the United States, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Samoa, who had the courage to make themselves visible. Please consider their lives. Perhaps someday, courage will not be necessary to simply be one’s self.

Artist Bios

  • Lynn Johnson

    Lynn Johnson

    Lynn Johnson photographs the human condition. A regular contributor to National Geographic, she is known for finding beauty and meaning in elusive, difficult subjects—threatened languages, zoonotic disease, rape in the military ranks, the centrality of water in village life, mysteries of the brain. Hate Kills, her master’s thesis as a Knight Fellow at Ohio University, probed the impact of hate crimes. At National Geographic Photo Camps, she helps at-risk youth find their creative voices. And at Syracuse University’s Newhouse School of Public Communications, she developed and teaches a program that challenges master’s students to push past their comfort levels in pursuit of their stories’ truth. She herself is committed to that search frame by frame. Johnson has worked for LIFE and Sports Illustrated and published 36 feature stories in National Geographic Magazine. She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Robert F. Kennedy Award and Pulitzer finalist on two occasions.


  • National Geographic

    National Geographic

    Established in 1888, National Geographic is a trusted print and digital publication offering stories that illuminate, inspire, and reveal. Our mission is to foster a deeper understanding and appreciation of cultures, the sciences, and the natural world. We advance that mission by creating visually stunning, richly reported photojournalism and distinguished, impartial coverage of the globe’s most pressing issues. National Geographic, the most popular brand on Instagram, has more than 215 million followers.

Redefining Gender

 archive : 2017

Featuring: Lynn Johnson

Curated by: Todd James

Presented by: National Geographic
  • National Geographic


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