"Freedom in Transition" by Aleksandar Crnogorac

Brankica Arsenović


was born in 1937 in a small village called Dvorovi, not too far from Bijeljina in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Prior to transitioning she was married five times. She has a daughter and one granddaughter. Currently she lives in her place of birth.
„I completed my sex change in the (now distant) 1995. I had to sell more than half of the land I owned in order to accumulate 10,000 Deutsche Marks to pay for the medical procedure. I went to the operation like one goes to a wedding, happy and with no fear or doubt in my mind. When I came back home, nobody in my village said a word to me for three years. I do not care what people think, I would do it all again; the only thing I would change is that I would have done the operation earlier. That is the only thing I would do differently if I could.”

Igor Ilić


was born in 1993 in Šid, Vojvodina, where he also grew up. He completed his studies in Philosophy at the University of Novi Sad in 2017, as well as Women`s Studies at the Faculty of Political Science and the Schools of Human Rights in Belgrade. Currently he lives between Belgrade and Šid, he is unemployed, and is considering starting his next educational chapter by enrolling in psychotherapy school. He loves psychology, bioethics, and working with people.
“The core of my identity is not the fact that I am a transgender man. I am also a person who has dreams, fears, strengths, weaknesses, ideas, wishes, successes, and failures. Being trans is an important part of my life, but not the most important one. Trans people also have an ethnicity, and they are also someone`s kid; they are not all the same, some are employed, others are not, some are highly educated, others are not, some are believers, others atheists, they are rich, poor, healthy, ill, friendly and shy…Just like all the other members of society.”

Trans Balkan
Aleksandar Crnogorac
© the artist
Curated by
Ministry of Culture and Media of the Republic of Serbia
Technical details
Documentary photography


These two portraits tell the story of freedom and the struggle of the transgender community in the Balkans to live their truth and at the same time gain respect and equality from the wider society in this least developed part of Europe. These two portraits, one of a young man at the beginning of his life and of an elderly woman whom is in the final stages of hers point out the fact that the Balkan region remains one of the most conservative in Europe where overcome stigma and achieving personal freedom still remains elusive and very difficult for many.

Being different is hard in its self, but being different in the Balkans is almost unbearable.

Igor is a young man who has completed his doctoral studies and is currently continuing his education because he realized that education is always the safest investment in life, whether someone is a cis or a trans person. Brankica on the other hand, is a woman whose only remorse in life is that she failed to start her transition process earlier in life and thus her life experience is colored by bitterness and a sense of injustice.

Through a series of documentary portraits as well as personal interviews, Aleksandar Crnogorac examines the problems of transgender people in Serbia and the region. With this project, the author emphasizes the visibility of a socially marginalized group and directly confronts the observer with the problems these people go through and the importance of the visibility of transgender people as well as understanding the problems they face every day.