From as early on as I could express an opinion on it, I’ve thought of myself as an artist. Over time, that word has slowly changed meaning for me. For a long time, I thought it meant that I was supposed to be a commercial illustrator. I’ve spent a lot of time in my life pursuing that dream, arguably quite successfully, although not really successful in any commercial sense. At some point a few years ago, I realized that commercial success wasn’t all that fulfilling anyway, and that what I really wanted to do with my life is to make things that matter to people.

My fulfillment comes in creating things that improve people’s lives and bring them joy. I used to say that my goal in life was to create something every day that made others happy, whether that something was a website, a painting, or a hot meal. These days, as much as I still feel fueled every time that something I’ve made touches someone else, I also try to think hard about the impact I can have on the larger world around me. Art can save the world. If I call myself an artist, then it is my ongoing responsibility to keep trying to do just that.

“I am inspired by the artists, queers, activists, and rebels who challenge our expectations every day. I look towards the past for its brave fighters who have battled for what freedoms we have today. I admire the people around me who work to make our future better, even by just living their lives against the pressure of our society’s norms. People have inspired me to live my life as I choose, and hope for a better future.”

“Being transgender is not something I ever asked for, wanted, or chose. It is a part of who I am and I love it for all its ups and downs (there are lots of both). Right now, I am being told by the government that I should not be allowed to exist for who I am, that gender is the same as sex and that I should not be. This stuns, shocks, and appalls me. I am an incredible human. I am strong and powerful and some damn hot stuff. I am alive and I plan to live a long life to its fullest. No one should be allowed to stop me from doing that. No one. And I don’t intend to let them.”

“I can’t count how many times I’ve almost given up on myself. I’ve come close to ending everything when I hit rock bottom. But I don’t. I never give in, even when it seems like the easy thing to do. There are a lot of things about myself that need mending; I’m one of those people that knows I’m not perfect, but I only see my flaws and wrongdoings. I’m trying to learn how to forgive myself, and in that process how to love myself. One thing I can say is, I’m proud of me for not having given up on myself yet. My perseverance will always hold me up when I need it to, and I’m thankful for that.”

“As I walk down this hard and happy road I realize that we, as a world, are breaking the shackles of silence and shadows.  There have been people yelling for decades that society is broken and now the world is beginning to listen.

I am in awe when these people fight the systems that have suppressed, oppressed, assaulted, and abused us.  

The most immediate radical act we can do is to remove society’s toxic tendrils from our soul: to love ourselves and to generously participate in acts of self love and self care.  

I am inspired when I see other femme folx who are living their own truth, who love themselves and their bodies so completely.  I am continually inspired by those who dare to bare their souls loudly and brightly when society demands compliance and whispers.

So now: here I am, reveling in myself and the body that is so much closer to what I’ve always dreamed and maybe, I can also live my truth, love myself, and be my own inspiration.“

“I’m a wacky, creative person, and it brings me so much joy when I have a zany idea for an adventure to go on or a creative project, and I turn my thoughts into reality!  What makes life really great right now is that I’m surrounded by friends who are creative, quirky, and funny, and we can share amazing times together.  The best days are the ones where I’m entirely in the moment, truly connected with the people around me, sharing a lot of laughs together.”

“I want to open the conversation for women, trans women and any group that feels underrepresented I want to open the conversation around their bodies, their sex, their fears. There’s so much pressure to be happy with all these aspects of our lives, but it’s our imperfections that make us human. I like to take the piss out of myself first to give others that permission.  I’m not holding myself on a pedestal of unreachable role model status. Embodying that on my own is liberating in itself.”

“I’m most proud of breaking away from the life script that I grew up with. Many of the life choices I’ve made required me to seriously question assumptions that had come with me on autopilot, or welcome long periods of discomfort or isolation. It’s still a work in progress, and will always be. But my life is richer for it, and full of more diverse people, knowledge and experiences. I think it’s important to be intentional about the choices we make, when it’s so easy to follow whatever the path of least resistance is to us.”