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Octavia: "I used drugs and sex to deal with the pain."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Beth Stirnaman

Beverly St. James: "I was homeless in MacArthur Park for about a year. For a person that had never been there [from a wealthy family], I was speechless. But I knew I had to endure."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Beth Stirnaman

Taunyett Thompson: "It was difficult at first because my parents wouldn't let me wear female clothes. I ran away from home."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Beth Stirnaman

Olivia St. John: "Many people in the transgender community believe that selling their bodies is the only option for them. Now I feel like I have the position to call others out to help them get out of it."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Beth Stirnaman

Myka Moon: "I have been denied services because [they said] they couldn't guarantee my safety."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Beth Stirnaman

Kourtney Glass: "I have been homeless in the past. Some fights I have with my boyfriend border on abusive. Last time we got into it, I basically left. I didn't have food, money, anything. That was a very bad feeling."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Beth Stirnaman

Vivica Williams: "I am on a voucher at the Weingart [shelter program]. After Tuesday I will not have anywhere to live. I am tired of getting solicited by the men."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Beth Stirnaman

A'sha White - "My mom kicked me out when I decided to fully transition. When I was homeless, multiple missions said that if I stayed there, I would have to present myself as a man."

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Beth Stirnaman

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Beth Stirnaman is a Southern California-based photographer now working at the nonprofit Lamp Community, a homeless service agency. After graduating magna cum laude from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in photography communications, she worked as a freelance photographer covering music, politics and social justice. Her work can be found in publications including,, OC Weekly and the Philippine News.

Beth400pxStirnaman, pictured at right, recently shot a series of portraits of transgender individuals she encountered on skid row. Here’s how she describes her motivation for the project:

“Skid row can be a very dark place. The gray concrete, battered tents and trash in the streets can create a very dismal environment.  One is frequently struck by the many transgender individuals who walk the streets oozing with confidence and looking fabulous from head to toe.  Their fashion can easily be seen as a reflection of their resilience and determination. Many in this community have lost much but refuse to lose their identity. In light of this, participants in this portrait series were asked to wear their favorite outfit that they felt best represented them as an individual. I wanted to make this portrait series because the debate about the rights of transgender individuals has been in the national spotlight. The consequences of these rights seemed so distant and vague to me until I started working with Lamp Community in Skid Row and met many of the individuals affected by discrimination. I heard so many of their stories of struggle and became inspired by their beauty. I want to share these examples of strength in the transgender community in Skid Row in hopes of ending the stigmatization of these individuals.”

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