Bety poses for a photo in the Alameda Central in Mexico City, Mexico on March 23, 2019.
Bety is a 54-year-old trans woman living in Mexico City with human adjuvant disease. She was 19 years old when she first received mineral oil injections into her breast and buttocks from a friend. Bety latched on to the so-called "mineral oil fever" that spread among the trans community in the 1980s. She injected herself in various parts of her body and injected dozens of others. Bety saw the terrible consequences that these injections caused in her own body and in her community, but she feels no fault for injecting others, because she says she did it "to help.” Even knowing the risks, trans women insist on transforming their female body with these injections. “Today, trans women continue to get all sorts of injections,” affirms Bety.
Human adjuvant disease, HAD, is a pathology caused by the injection of foreign substances for cosmetic purposes, and represents a serious health problem. Seeking simple, fast, cheap, painless and what some thought was a safe alternative to plastic surgery, the application of non-authorized modeling substances by untrained personnel has become a frequent practice. Nevertheless, the injections could lead - often several years after receiving them - to serious complications, even death. For some, it has caused irreversible damage to their physical health, self-esteem and quality of life. In Mexico, HAD is an existent problem. Between 2006 and 2018, Mexico City’s General Hospital has seen 4785 of these cases, according to their plastic and reconstructive surgery specialists. Photograph by Bénédicte Desrus