After working as a press photographer in Berlin, Mareike Günsche studied photography in Hannover, Berlin and Hamburg. Her diploma work, “Dragkings,” was awarded the Canon Award for Young Professionals. Since 2009, she has lived and worked in Mongolia.
Muugi, one of Mongolia’s transgender population, was raised as one of seven children in a herding family in Khuvsgul aimag, a province in the north of the country.
She left her home, first to study at university at Erdenet, Mongolia’s second biggest city, and then for Ulan Bator, its capital, where she now lives with the family of one of her sisters.
Unable to afford the medical procedures for gender reassignment surgery, her papers still identify her as a man.
This makes it impossible for her to be a teacher, the job she was trained for. Instead, she works for an LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) non-governmental organization.
To celebrate Tsagaan Sar, Mongolia’s New Year, Muugi returns home to Khuvsgul, where her family welcomes her home as warmly as ever.
Text and photographs by Mareike Günsche
Muugi tries on her sister-in-law’s deel, a traditional long coat still widely worn in Mongolia, especially in the countryside.
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Its 100 photo-stories move beyond the stereotypes and cliches that fill so much of the world’s media to explore the lives of people whose aspirations and achievements are at least as noteworthy as any member of the world’s richest 1,000.