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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Transcend to celebrate Trans Day of Visibility with virtual art show

The+Hopeful+Captive%2C+2020%2C+a+digital+painting+by+Sean+Haynes+for+the+2021+Transcend+Trans+Day+of+Visibility+Art+Show.

“The Hopeful Captive,” 2020, a digital painting by Sean Haynes for the 2021 Transcend Trans Day of Visibility Art Show.

In celebration of Trans Day of Visibility, transgender and nonbinary students at Texas State are using art to express themselves and exhibit what it means to be trans. Despite recent anti-trans legislation across the country, the organization’s members are hoping to see the beauty of their community shine through at its second annual Trans Day of Visibility Art Show on March 31.
Founded in 2014, Transcend was the first transgender-specific organization at a public Texas university. Its members and officers are dedicated to cultivating a community for transgender and nonbinary students and their allies at Texas State.
Sean Haynes, Transcend’s vice president of outreach, said it can be difficult and lonely as a transgender person to connect with people who relate to their journey, which is why Transcend seeks to serve as a safe haven on campus.
“In Transcend, we kind of have that space where it’s like, you know, no matter what the world is throwing at you right now or like how you might have to present and stuff, your name is your name, your pronouns are your pronouns and like, we just accept that and we want to embrace that,” Haynes, a biological anthropology graduate student, said.
The group is one of several organizations dedicated to creating close-knit communities for LGBTQ+ students at Texas State. While it has collaborated with organizations like Queer Cats and Bobcat PRIDE for meetings and socials in the past, Haynes said it is important for Transcend to have events such as the annual Transgender Day of Visibility Art Showcase to acknowledge and celebrate different trans experiences.
“It’s about, you know, just celebrating what it means to be trans, what trans people are doing in life and just like, different lived experiences and talking about how many different walks of life people in the trans community come from,” Haynes said. “It’s a way to showcase oftentimes very personal and like, sometimes very vulnerable pieces of where a lot of this art comes from, and to celebrate that vulnerability through visibility and stuff like that.”
March 31 marks Transgender Day of Visibility internationally. The day is dedicated to recognizing the accomplishments of the trans community as well as to bringing awareness to the struggles the trans community faces.
Jessica Soukup is the vice board chair for the Transgender Education Network of Texas and has been the faculty advisor of Transcend for six years, acting as a resource to the students who plan and organize the event. She said from the outside looking into the art showcase, she is proud that Transcend members have created a space in which trans and nonbinary students can share their stories.
“[Transgender Day of Visibility] was formed originally, because of an understanding that people who had met someone who’s trans, were significantly more likely to support trans rights. And so trans visibility was designed to give people an opportunity to meet out trans people who wanted to share their stories. And so, this is a perfect event,” Soukup said.
This is the second year the Trans Day of Visibility art showcase is shared online for last year, the pandemic caused the event’s planners to move the gallery submissions to a dedicated Instagram account, @transcendtdov. Submissions to the showcase have included drawings, paintings, digital art, poems and short stories. Haynes said this year’s art show will also be displayed on the same Instagram page since it makes art more accessible to those who want to see it.
Raymond Ortega, a studio art alumnus who was a member of Transcend throughout his four years at Texas State and served as the organization’s president his senior year, submitted works from his senior thesis to the art show. In an exploration of his own feelings about gender and queer sexuality, his collection of drawings implied sensuality and sexuality but denied the viewer a full picture of what was happening.
He said the organization’s decision to commemorate the day with an art show was made because members believed in leaving it up to individuals to show their vulnerability. He appreciated being able to step out of the sometimes stifling environment of his art studies and freely express himself by submitting his work to the showcase where it could also reach a larger audience.
“It was just really cool to be exhibiting my art in a space where I wasn’t just like, the one like trans person, like talking about my own experiences, but I was surrounded by other trans creatives and we were all like talking about our own similar experiences that way,” Ortega said. “And there’s never this expectation that you need to be even an art major like me. Like, literally anyone can submit, or as long as you make something that you are passionate about, and you think reflects your identity, that’s always welcome.”
As someone who served in a Transcend officer position and was heavily involved in planning the art showcase, Ortega said the hard work was always rewarding because they got to facilitate conversations and acknowledge the nuances that make everyone unique despite being connected by a common experience.
“If we wouldn’t have done it, no one else would have done it,” Ortega said. “It has the intended effect of like, the actual holiday of like, you know, we’re trying to be more visible and sort of be like, ‘hey, we’re here,’ in order to be able to talk about issues that we face and stuff … and it brings a lot of joy but there’s also the reason for that is so that we can talk about these hard issues that normally people wouldn’t want to talk about.”
Through the Transgender Day of Visibility Art Showcase and by continuing its mission of building a family for transgender and nonbinary students at Texas State, Transcend members hope to uplift their peers and open a supportive environment in which people can be themselves.
“[Trans Day of Visibility is about] celebrating that kind of act of defiance of what it means to be trans and to uplift the lives of trans people while we’re still here,” Haynes said. “And to remind people that, you know, we are here, we are visible. We’re in your community. You might not see us every day, you might not know that, you know, we’re in your classes, we’re in your work and stuff like that. We’re here, our lives matter.”
For more information on Transcend, visit its Instagram or Twitter @transcendtxst. Visual, written, audio and multimedia art submissions for the Transgender Day of Visibility Art Show can be submitted to [email protected] or through Google Form.

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