National Geographic recently shared a picture of its cover page of a transgender girl on several social media platforms and the image has since been attracting reactions from people all over the world. The cover page of National Geographic January 2017 issue unveiled a portrait of Avery Jackson, a 9 year old transgender girl from Kansas City, US. She is the first transgender person to appear on the cover of National Geographic. The portrait of Avery Jackson captures what LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer) activists all over the world are trying to instill in its community and that is, the pride and the confidence Avery reflects on her face. In the picture, Avery Jackson is sitting on the edge of the couch with one hand on her laps and the other hanging loose. She is dressed in pink and her shoulder-length hair too is dyed in shades of pink and blue.
Susan Goldberg, editor-in-chief of National Geographic in her explanatory article ‘Why we put a Transgender Girl on the cover of National Geographic’ published online, says that the cover picture was received differently by different people. While some expressed ‘gratitude’ and ‘pride’ some, she said ‘vowed to cancel their subscription’ but she was quick to dismiss these comments as the ‘small part of the profound discussion’ which is happening in several parts of the world.
For their cover photograph, National Geographic visited eight countries and shot portraits of children aged 9. They took portraits of 80 children who interacted with them and discussed with them the influence gender has had in their lives. Avery Jackson, the transgender girl on the cover page has been living as an “openly transgender girl” since she was aged 5.
Among the faces, is a face of a 9 year old Indian girl. The portrait from Mumbai’s slum captures the face of Nasreen Sheikh who in her interaction tells that she wanted to be a boy so that she could earn money for her family. Susan Goldberg in her article says that she expects Nasreen will learn that “Gender alone doesn’t preclude a good life, or for that matter, ensure it). She ends by saying that she hopes these stories on gender open a window for further discussion on this topic.
Other Indian children who have also featured in the magazine are Pooja Pawara and Sunny Bhope from Maharashtra.