Things That Matter

These Artists And Activists Are Empowering Trans Lives Through Art

Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR) is observed on Nov. 20 each year to mourn those lost to acts of anti-transgender violence. Trans women of color are the most likely to face these kinds of violent attacks. Gwendolyn Ann Smith founded the very first TDoR in 1999 and the event has grown every year since with tributes and celebrations of trans lives. Transgender Awareness Week, Nov. 13-17, is a week-long celebration of trans lives birthed from TDoR. Forward Together, a non-profit social justice organization, is collaborating with trans and non-binary artists of color and trans justice organizations across the country, to create original artwork for Trans Day of Resilience.

The Trans Day of Resilience art project is an extension and reimagining of Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Transgender Day of Resilience celebrated its fourth year highlighting trans artists and their community. It is an extension of the overall Trans Day of Remembrance by elevating trans and non-binary artists. Together the artists of color and trans-led organizations create artwork that both honors trans community members who have been killed and celebrates those who are still here. Jennicet Gutierrez, an activist for transgender rights and immigrant rights, says Transgender Day of Remembrance was a collaborative idea between Forward Together and Familia: Trans Queer Liberation Movement. She says it was suggested by organizers who want a way for people to visually understand the everyday lives of trans people in America.

“People are connecting with the messages these images and it has opened up many conversions.” Gutierrez said. “Art plays a key role in social justice and by doing this we feel we can uplift our trans communities.”

The artists are part of a nationwide network wanting to tell their stories and stories of their communities.

Artists from across the country created specific work that highlight the various people who make up the trans-community. Various non-profits sponsored each art piece and describe the story behind them. Gutierrez says that for many in the trans-community art is an escape and is a way to express their personal story through collective art.

“You can share these works and each people will interpret them in different ways, that’s the power of these pieces,” Gutierrez says. “Art has always been a key part of any social movement and this project we hope encourages those to take action.”

Violence against the trans community has risen steadily in recent years.

According to a report released by the Human Right Campaign, a national LGBTQ advocacy group, more than 20 people have been killed so far this year due to anti-transgender violence. The organization has tracked 128 anti-transgender homicides in the U.S. since 2013.

Prerna Sampat, a spokesperson with Forward Together, says that too often we only highlight trans during times of grief and by having art events we can bring awareness to trans lives.

“At a time when depictions of trans folks often center around suffering and death, we want to celebrate the lives of trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary people in the most unifying way through art,” Sampat said. “Art is fundamental to all social movements because it reconnects us to our deepest values, to what we hold sacred, and to each other.”


READ: Check Out These 9 Trans Activists On Instagram As They Fight For Justice And Equality

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Pedro Pascal Supports His Sister, Lux, As She Publicly Comes Out As Trans: ‘Mi Hermana, Mi Corazón’

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Pedro Pascal Supports His Sister, Lux, As She Publicly Comes Out As Trans: ‘Mi Hermana, Mi Corazón’

Credit: Getty Images; pascalispunk/Instagram

We always knew there was a reason that Pedro Pascal was one of the internet’s favorite boyfriends. He has always radiated an energy of warmth and kindness–turns out he also walks the walk.

On Tuesday, Pedro Pascal took to Instagram to support his sister, Lux Pascal, who recently came out as a trans woman.

On his Instagram page, Pascal shared a picture of his sister on the cover of Spanish-language Chilean magazine, Ya. The caption read: “Mi hermana, mi corazón, nuestra Lux.”

In an interview with Ya magazine, Lux Pascal opened up about how supportive Pedro has been of her transition.

Lux explained that Pedro “has been an important part of [my transition].” Lux, who is currently studying acting at Juilliard, says that Pedro was able to be a “guide” to her because of his artistic spirit.

“He’s also an artist and has served as a guide for me,” she said. “He was one of the first people to gift me the tools that started shaping my identity.”

But her brother wasn’t the only one that was very accepting of her decision to transition. Lux explained that her transition has been “been something that’s very natural for everyone” in her family.

And like many folks who are gender non-conforming, her family seemed to have known ahead of time. “It’s almost something that they expected to happen,” she said.

Lux revealed to Ya that, for a number of years, she identified as non-binary. But she eventually realized that she actually identifies as a woman.

“Moving through the world as a woman is much more simple for me, but I still advocate for nonbinary identities to have a space in society,” she explained. While she says that existing as a woman was the right decision for her, she still “advocates for nonbinary identities to have a space in society.”

Lux is also passionate about LGBTQ activism, saying that the world needs trans activists who are good, smart, informed, and who can be strong voices against transphobia, homophobia and racism.”

When asked if she feels discomfort at seeing images of herself before her transition, Lux said, “I don’t feel anxiety when I see old photos of mine. The same happens to me with theater: I see someone who was doing what they liked.”

As for her new name (she was previously known by the name “Lucas”), Lux said she didn’t want to lose the meaning of her old name, which meant “he who brings the light.”

She looked to one of her favorite movies for inspiration. “One of the characters in Sofia Coppola’s ‘Virgin Suicides’ was named ‘Lux’ which is light in Latin,” she said. “I was pleased with my childhood memory and that my previous name had signified something I was looking for myself.”

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These Terrariums And Fairy Gardens Are A Lil’ Homies Dream Come True

Culture

These Terrariums And Fairy Gardens Are A Lil’ Homies Dream Come True

Lil’ Homies are one toy that we all remember. They little figurines were so much more to us than little toys that we got from toy vending machines. Adrian Ortiz is using them to create something magical and giving people a non-Eurocentric take on terrariums.

Adrian Ortiz is giving Lil’ Homies their own terrariums in which to flourish.

Ortiz understands the cultural importance of Lil’ Homies because it was one of the first times he saw himself represented, like so many of us. The toys were a welcomed moment of representation for Ortiz after spending so many years seeing so many white narratives in the media and toys.

“I started making terrariums with Lil’ Homies in them as the figures because I noticed how traditional fairy gardens were always representing white/European figures,” Ortiz told mitú. “I thought about how perfect they were in size. I wanted to dedicate my art page to the idea of people of color existing and participating in nature.”

Ortiz feels supported from his followers as well as his boyfriend. His art has been a welcomed breath of culturally relevant plant art in people’s social media feeds.

The ongoing pandemic gave Ortiz a chance to dive deeper into a hobby he already had: plants.

“I have always been into plants and nature since I was a kid and I began making terrariums and fairy gardens in the past year to deal with the pandemic like so many others,” Ortiz says. “There is something super special about making miniature tiny living worlds. I wanted to make fairy gardens but I ended up with something halfway between terrariums and fairy gardens but with cholos. So I created the ‘Brown People Indoor Miniature Gardening TikTok’ series on my tik tok account.”

Ortiz’s TikTok account, aptly named @botanical_homie, has more than 7,000 followers showing that people are really into the idea of Lil’ Homies living their fairy garden dreams.

The terrariums are another chance for people of color to be represented in the world.

Ortiz was in an arts school for middle and high school. In that time, the school fostered an understanding of racial injustices and introduced Ortiz to the concept of artivism, art as activism. It was, according to Ortiz, a moment when he realized that he wanted to dedicate his art to BIPOC.

“I grew up and live in Colorado and have seen the lack of access BIPOC have to outdoor activities like hiking and mountain climbing,” Ortiz explains. “These are white-dominated sports and activities that some POC never get to experience. I want to create a world where we can be anything and do everything, even if it’s miniature. A utopia for us to take back what is also ours.”

Ortiz is making the terrariums for everyone, even people who struggle to take care of plants.

Covid quarantining has forced so many people to think they make perfect plant parents. Yet, taking care of plants is something that doesn’t com naturally. Ortiz had to spend time trying to figure out what plants are the best for everyone.

“Part of my challenge in creating these terrariums has been figuring out what kind of plants people can keep alive. They all have different requirements so getting plants should always depend on your space and lighting,” Ortiz says. “I come from the generation of YouTube so I always say do research, it’s part of the fun. The biggest thing about having plants that people don’t realize is that you just have to pay attention to them, often. But again it depends, some plants are indestructible.”

Ortiz is happy to be able to create this art and hopes to make them more accessible.

“If you want to support me and my art work you can contact me via Instagram about commissions,” Ortiz says. “Shipping these pieces is not easy or ideal so I appreciate everyone’s patience as I learn and evolve. My goal is to work on larger installations and I’ll be putting out DIY kits in the near future.”

READ: If You Call Yourself A Frida Kahlo Fan Then You Should Be Following These Five Artists

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