Hi. You probably have no idea who I am…but you’ve likely seen my work without realising it was me. That was the way I liked things for most of my life; not standing out, blending in, trying to be normal and not putting myself out there to be a target for the bullies – though it didn’t really work, because most of my school life was pretty miserable.
It took me until the age of 25 to finally have the courage to be myself and stop playing the role I was assigned, and even when I did, I had the constant worry of ‘what will everyone else think of me?’ and I wasn’t stopping to ask myself ‘what do I think of me?’
I had just started my first proper animation job and slowly over the weeks I tested the waters, with what I wore, what I said, and how I presented myself. A few weeks later, I told my colleagues about the wedge heeled trainers I’d been wearing. They said they had noticed my apparent two inch growth spurt and that I shouldn’t feel the need to hide who I am. To them I was a friend and part of the family. I remember a few nights later after all the hype and positivity of the 2012 Olympic torch passing by outside our office, I posted my feelings about my gender on facebook – I hit the enter key and I went to bed, dreading the kind of responses I’d get – but I had to do it.
To this day it’s still the most liked and commented Facebook post I’ve ever made, and it was flooded with support – this gave me the babysteps of courage to face my parents (who do not use Facebook). Whilst my parents had their questions and issues, ultimately, with time, they were very accepting – They had their concerns, but it was mostly over my safety and how the general public would respond.
For the most part, my experience with the public hasn’t been too bad. In the seven years since I came out, I think I can still count on my hands the insults I’ve had – which have generally come from men hurrying in the opposite direction by foot or by van so they’re safe from any return fire I’d give them – cowards of course.
So the reason you probably have all become familiar with me, is for my ‘Coming Out’ piece with the woman emerging from the ‘man costume’.
I’ve been drawing all my life, and I’ve always been rather good at it. It’s also gone fairly unnoticed – The Coming Out piece was essentially a doodle; I didn’t sign it, I didn’t watermark it, I didn’t post it on DeviantArt (the largest online social network for artists and art enthusiasts) or anywhere like that. I think I just put it on my facebook and a few friends liked it.
A few months later, a friend showed me that somebody had cropped the image, overlaid some text and it had been shared over 1000 times with my name nowhere in sight. My immediate reaction was panic – that someone was going to claim my artwork as theirs, and that someone had overlaid text on my art, which I felt was self explanatory – at least to anyone in that situation.
A couple of people tracked me down, through Google’s reverse image search and asked where they could get a print. So I printed a few out on the printer at work, and the prices varied slightly each time. I hadn’t made the art to make money and I was unprepared. It wasn’t until the 4th person tracked me down and suggested that I create an Etsy store, that I began to take it a little more seriously.
So I did just that, I ordered 25 postal tubes that I thought I’d be stuck with forever and as I write this I have 8 left and 2 ready to be posted out tomorrow. They’ll be packed with the poster and some British chocolate – the prints have been particularly popular in the US, and Americans love British candy!
So what are my plans looking ahead? Well, having just lost my job when the mobile game studio I worked for was closed down, I figured I’d continue focusing on the three things I’m passionate about: helping and supporting the LGBT community, art and animation, and motorsport.
I now represent a not for profit organisation called Racing Pride in the growing world of E-Sports SimRacing and have begun to show this male-dominated sport just what a transgirl can do, when given the chance. The ultimate dream would be to earn a seat in a real race car, and represent trans people just as my heroine, Charlie Martin, does.
You can get a copy of my print here:
Be yourself, because everybody else is taken. Unknown