The gender binary is an arbitrary and fundamentally limiting “truth” engrained deep within dominant narratives of who we are as human beings. We learn the predetermined and parallel categories of gender (woman/man) and sex (female/male), along with assumptions about how these binaries must align. Gender norms shape every aspect of our lives, including our intimate relationships with our own bodies.
This exhibition culminates a five-week art workshop series, during which trans, nonbinary and genderqueer young adults used art-making to explore their relationships with their bodies. These artists challenge transphobic notions of the body while also grappling with internalized gender expectations. For some, art-making was a language to express concepts of self that altogether reject the body as an element of one’s identity. For other artists, experiencing a sense of safety during the workshops allowed them to risk feeling the emotional and psychological pain of existing in their bodies. Still others nurtured a loving connection to the power of what their bodies can do.
Our society’s gender norms are seeped in transphobia, white supremacy and other systemic hierarchies that reproduce violent and dehumanizing consequences for those who fail to fit the gender rules. In stark contrast to the discomfort and isolation of existing in a cisgender world, these workshops provided space for trans young people to cultivate a sense of belonging, honor their lived experiences, and reimagine what it means to exist in their bodies.