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August 18

La Vie En Rose - Claudette's Story

By Ella Miista
"I’d rather sell my ass than my soul; it’s harder but much cleaner." These are the words of Claudette - a hermaphrodite sex worker from Switzerland. Said to Malika Gaudin-Delrieu, the French photographer became fascinated by Claudette and her story. La Vie En Rose was born from that. Delrieu went to Switzerland to work on a documentary project about sex work. She was curious as the Swiss see prostitution as work, whereas her native France assumes it to be violence against women. Delrieu felt those in the centre of it were left voiceless. "To stipulate that every prostitute is a victim is to deny them the right to speak by stating that they are incapable of making choices for themselves," she says. She agrees - and so do we - that there are victims, but she's adamant on making voices of those affected by the law heard. Prostitution is riddled with cliches. It's difficult to rid those cliches or even to know which of them hold true. That world is so far removed for the most of us, and like Delrieu says, those in the centre of it don't have agency. Claudette's story is of course different, and Delrieu stresses her story isn't to generalise the situation of every sex worker out there. Claudette was born intersex, with both female and male genitalia. Her parents declared her official sex male, which presumably was the smart thing to do in 1937. But, she was never restricted. She was brought up knowing she got to decide which sex to assume. "I never felt bad about being hermaphrodite, it’s the others who have a problem with it, not me," she says and adds she had always felt like a girl. "I have the sex of the angels, why would I be ashamed of it?" she asks. Delrieu describes her as the opposite of a victim and so it is. She is in control. She's been happily married for over 50 years. She's a father to three children. She's open about her life choices. She's not forced into anything. "Prostitution becomes a source of self confidence for people who see in prostitutes the ultimate femininity and who assume this role with happiness and a sense of relief," she elaborates. Whether it's being a sex worker or a hermaphrodite, Claudette has never allowed being different to undermine her. She cycles, she sometimes goes to church, she spends time with her family. She lives her life on her own terms. La Vie En Rose depicts it just like that. See the full series here. Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu Claudette by Malika Gaudin-Delrieu
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