CoCo, Age 14, Utah ©Jesse Freidin

My current project ‘Are You OK?’ documents the faces and stories of trans and non-binary youth living in the United States who are ready to stand up to political annihilation. Flanked by their supportive families, a diverse group of outspoken and deeply loved youth present their strength and joy to the world in a revolt against the country’s attempt to erase them – an antidote to the misinformed, overused imagery of desolate trans youth we often see in journalism. For me, this is a trans survival project.

As a queer man of trans experience, and someone raised in a family of two Holocaust survivors, this work has become a contemporary archive of the disappearance of my community and a cathartic way to say that I am (and we are) still here. It is a social and ethnographic study, leaning on repetition for scientific effect. Participating in the creation of this work is dangerous– we meet in hiding behind buildings with extreme discretion in states that want us dead – yet the process of acknowledging each other offers a kind of healing within the frame. I have anonymized the parents to infer that the only way to have a living trans child is to support them.


Before each portrait I do a short meditation exercise with each participant where we close our eyes, breathe into our most empowered selves, and show up together for a moment of self-actualization. In the past two years I have photographed and interviewed over 130 trans and non-binary youth in over half the states in the country and will continue this series into 2024/25. Audio recordings are included in exhibitions, and on the website.


Jesse Freidin was America’s leading fine art dog photographer for the past 15 years, and now focuses his attention on elevating the experience of the trans/queer community through portraiture and interviews. His photography is part of over 150 private collections and has been exhibited in galleries from coast to coast. His current series entitled “Are You OK?” addresses the dangers of the current wave of anti-trans legislation sweeping the country in a passionate attempt to erase stigma and elevate the voices of those most affected.

Jesse’s work has been featured in The New York Times, Vogue, Cosmopolitan, The Huffington Post, Them, Live! with Regis and Kelly, Inside Edition and more. He is the author of two books: When Dogs Heal: Powerful Stories of People Living with HIV and the Dogs That Saved Them (Lerner Books 2020), and Finding Shelter: Portraits of Love, Healing and Survival (Lyons Press 2017). An ‘Are You OK?’ book is forthcoming.