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black and white charcoal on gray paper
11x13 inches

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This drawing features my unconventional self-portrait. Despite the scoliosis twisting my spine and hunching my back, I wanted to beautify my disabled body and the moment many trans AFAB (Assigned Female At Birth) folx know very well. Chest binders need to be tight to properly flatten or masculinize our chests, and this makes them difficult to get in/out of, especially if your skin is still damp from a shower or swim. Those of us who transition hormonally find the difficulty only increasing as our shoulders get larger, and yet our ability to afford larger binders does not increase. Binding is uncomfortable, especially if you have a large body/chest, or work long days and can’t take it off after 8 hours (as binder manufacturers recommend). Binding increases the daily pain experienced by people with scoliosis and/or injuries to the spine or upper body. Binders are difficult to conceal under light-colored, thin, or sleeveless shirts, and they can’t get wet.

But despite the challenges of the binding experience, I cherished my binder. It was precious to me. I couldn’t leave home without it. Binding is not comfortable, but for many trans men and nonbinary folks, it is crucial and liberating. The moment I put on a good binder (made by GC2B) I fell in love with myself for the first time. It was an incredible moment and a necessary one. In the disorienting chaos of gender dysphoria, my binder illuminated the path that led me to self-realization, self-confidence, and self-love. I am now good to myself. I cherish my body. I wish more people could experience the perspective I enjoy today.

Before I could begin painting other trans people with disability and/or in the before or early stages of transition, I felt I should depict myself. It is difficult to be immortalized while still in a form that does not feel like your truest or most beautiful form. As a trans person and a person with disabilities, it was important to me to feature my own mid-transition body and physical disability before asking other trans people to publicly display their own bodies at any stage of transition, especially those living with disabilities. This self-portrait gave me the confidence to open my artwork up to other trans people.

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