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There are countless scary things to consider when transitioning. So many in fact it’s a really daunting task to even consider listing them all. In a way, it’s an impossible task too, because of the simple fact that each person will experience a very different set of hurdles when making the leaps towards becoming themselves.

Of course we will inevitably share common grievances as well, like coming out to friends and family, figuring out which bathroom to use or which box to tick, being subject to transphobia or fighting for help and support though GP’s and clinics. It’s probably the struggle against these hazards that unites us. They give us a common knowledge about what it is to be transgender and with common ground comes mutual support. That support leads to networks and groups all over the place which stand to bring trans people together. They help educate, support share and encourage. These support groups are absolutely priceless and many people would not have made it through without them. After all, together we are stronger.





At the end of the day though, that doesn’t mean that all transgender people are activists. We are not all the definitive answer to all questions relating to transgender issues. Nor do I think any of us would claim to be.

It’s scary being something different, because in a way you are made to represent that something whether you like it or not, and you want to be sure to be responsible and represent it positively. After all, we don’t transition magically knowing everything. We have to work hard to discover our knowledge about the world we are entering into. The only thing we can talk about with 100% clarity is ourselves and our own personal experience.

Before, I mentioned that all transgender people will go through very different struggles on their journey. One of my personal struggles was coming to an understanding that as a transgender person, I was
not obligated answer questions unless I wanted to. While some people are drawn to share their experience to help and guide others, others wish nothing more than to live their lives in private and they have every right to do that.

A transgender person is not obligated to know all there is to know about the community they are in. It’s okay as a trans person if you don’t know the estimated number of transgender people in the U.K., or the statistics of transphobic hate crime in the U.S. last year. If you don’t know, you can learn. If you don’t want to know, you don’t have to. The important thing is to be involved at a level that makes you comfortable.


I
like to answer questions, I like to feel that I’ve educated myself enough at this point to know what to say in response to the more difficult ones. However, I will always stress that I speak for myself. When I make art work about my transition, or answer questions about it I am talking about my own personal experience. I am not the Lorax of Transgender people. I do not speak for the trans. None of us can, really, but we can support those who try.

Ku Lorax.png

[Image “I am not the Lorax” by Saku Smith aka Creatore Magico.]

We speak for ourselves, and in each of us speaking for ourselves somewhere along the way common problems rise to the surface. Isn’t that how we know what support to give and what problems to take on in our support groups? Isn’t this how the real activists who chose to fight for our rights and speak on our behalf get their information?

We can’t all be Laverne Cox, and we don’t have to be unless we chose that path for ourselves. Some of us are Evanna Lynch choosing to support what we believe in but leave the fighting and friction to those with better weapons. Choice is so important, especially for transgender people, making choices outside the norm is what makes us.


I guess the thought I am circling around here is that no matter how much involvement you have with the LGBT community, you are doing enough. You don’t have a duty to fight, unless you want to. I’m not saying you shouldn’t fight, of course you should! There is still so much to fight for, but it’s not your duty. It’s your gift, if you chose to give it.

At least, that’s my personal opinion. I’m not the Lorax of trans people after all.

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Thank you to drazzi for checking over this journal, and thank you once again to anyone reading and watching. I appreciate every single fave and comment.

As always, if anybody wants to talk to me about my experiences transitioning, please don't hesitate to send me a note. While I am not a therapist or councilor, I can certainly share my personal experiences with you.

I’ve always used drawing as a way to express myself. I think we all did as children, before we decided our drawings weren't good enough and moved on. It’s funny how “that’s not how its supposed to look” can stop us from trying to get there, isn’t it? I’ve learned not to let that stop me.

As a child, in between all the drawings of Link, Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog, I used to vent through my pictures. I vividly remember drawing a grotesque mouth pulled into a smile with wires when I was feeling depressed at around age eight. (Although I could blame watching Pink Floyd’s: The Wall one too many times for that one.)

As I got older and my interest in drawing and creating images grew. I found myself doing art at college, and while I was still drawing Mario and Sonic because I loved cartoons and videogames, I also started to learn about “real art”.


My personal art preferences never made it into the classroom until we were asked to bring in a picture during a textiles class. No specific rules were included in this request. Simply to bring in a picture. Any picture that we liked, in order to take the colours from it for a project.


I was excited by this prospect. I could finally share something that was important to me. Some of the artwork that had inspired me to study art in the first place! I went home and used our newly gotten internet to find a picture from my favorite book series at the time,
Dragonlance. It was “The Death of Strum” by Larry Elmore which I bought into class.

When it was my turn to show the picture that I had bought in, I happily presented it to the teacher, a very Ann Robinson-esque woman. Just looking at the picture filled me with inspiration. However, the second the teacher set eyes on it she immediately told me, “That’s not art.”

The Death Of Sturm by Larry Elmore.png
--- The Death of Sturm by Larry Elmore
---

I was crushed. She gave me no explanation as to why the image I had chosen “wasn’t art”. There was no feedback, and no understanding to be had then or any other time during my art course. The image I cared about, which I considered art because it spoke to me, wasn’t good enough and I was made to feel utterly ashamed.

This phrase “That’s not art” came back several times afterwards during my entire art education. If I happened to doodle a cartoon in my spare time or talk about my love of comic books, Japanese animation or video game artwork. “That’s not art” would surely follow.

So there I was, an art student who apparently didn’t like real art.

It was disheartening that my means to express myself had seemingly been cut off. I thought that these cartoon and fantasy drawings - which I related to and helped me vent the things I was going through -
were art. It had turned out that they were less than nothing.

I know many transgender people related to Disney’s film Mulan and the song “Reflection.” That style of animation that spoke to all those people? Not art, apparently.

The same goes for the video game
Metroid. Back when all we had were pixelated heroes, this game managed to take us on an epic quest only to reveal at the very end of it all that the bad-ass main character Samus Aran was a woman the entire time. So many women felt empowered by that character design. It was a fantastic moment designed and executed beautifully, but I knew if I showed it to my peers in college the reaction would be negative.

Or what about the illustrative work of Brian Froud? He gave us beautiful escapism, androgynous fae and magical worlds to lose ourselves in. Was illustration not important enough to be called art?


It wasn’t until much later in life that I started to question what my teachers had told me. Surely art was an image that was made to express something? An image that could reach out to people or convey creativity and emotion. If something was created to
be art, surely art is just what it was?

Being born female and transitioning to male I learnt that people are what they say they are. It doesn’t matter what they look like. If I say I’m male, then I’m male no matter what stage of transition. I wondered if that might be the same for art.

If I say my drawing is art, is it?

I decided to go with the definition of art I found online.

“Art. The expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.”

With that in mind, I decided to share my drawings online. I’d been hiding them for quite some time just using them to vent my own feelings and thoughts. They were my way of working through my transition. Once I started sharing them I found out how many people this ‘not art’ could reach.

I started to meet other people who were transitioning. People who I didn’t even know would send me messages telling me that my drawings had really spoken to them, and had given them courage. I even managed to help one or two people by donating my old binders to them post-surgery because I found them via my drawings.


I had always thought that the way I chose to draw wasn’t real art. That my cartoon inspired format was not right for the serious issue of transitioning. Now I know that’s not true. I’ve had such positive feedback about my work and I know in my heart that if it’s even reached one person then I’m glad to have made it.

Yes by Saku Smith aka Creatore Magico.png

I even found out there is a tumblr group called “trans toons” (transtoons.tumblr.com)  where loads of other people are sharing the exact same thing! Not to mention the abundance of amazing artists working here on Devinat Art. So many trans people use drawing and creating as a positive outlet to reach out to others, and it really works. It’s an accessible form of communication when words can be too much to handle, and it can transcend a common language barrier. I’m happy to add to the pile: Because trans people have courage and guts. Trans people are creative and passionate. Trans people are all artists, shaping themselves into the visual image that can always be appreciated for its emotional power.

If “that’s not art” then in the end, I don’t care. I chose to believe differently.


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Thank you to drazzi for checking over this journal, and thank you once again to anyone reading and watching. I appreciate every single fave and comment.

As always, if anybody wants to talk to me about my experiences transitioning, please don't hesitate to send me a note. While I am not a therapist or councilor, I can certainly share my personal experiences with you.
One year ago today, I had a bilateral mastectomy on my chest. It doesn't feel like long ago, and the time before it is sort of a blur. I remember how I used to look, but not how it used to feel.

When I first had my operation everyone was asking me "are you happy?" and "is it liberating?" to which I didn't have an answer. Directly after surgery I had a bout of post operation depression which lasted a fair few months. I never thought I'd made a mistake, but I never got a glorious rush of HALLELUJAH that it seemed like I was supposed to have.

In a way, I guess it's because it was more like a quiet sigh of relief. I was never supposed to look the way I used to look, so surgery was sort of like taking off a mask. I could breathe easier, and feel more normal.

After a year, I can reflect on the happiness it's bought a lot easier.

I have passed through an extremely hot summer not having to wear layers of constrictive binder under my clothes for the first time.

I have worn a white T-shirt and not been worried about bindings showing through.

I have unbuttoned my shirt low enough to show a little chest-hair and felt confident and masculine.

I have been shown support and love from friends, family and even strangers via my artwork and it's comments.

It seems like a short year, but so much has happened. I can say with the kind of smile that's subtle, but indeed happy and liberated, happy anniversary man-chest.

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Thank you once again for reading and for watching. As always, if anybody wants to talk to me about my experiences transitioning, please don't hesitate to send me a note. While I am not a therapist or councilor, I can certainly share my personal experiences with you.
Recently a friend asked me when did I know that I was supposed to be male. When did I become concious of the fact that this was me? I wrote them a reply which I think I'd like to share here as well, and maybe even expand on it somewhat.

For me personally, I always knew I was a boy since I was a child. I always wanted to be the male role in all the games we played as kids. When my best friend would be princess Zelda and I'd be Link, when she'd be princess Jasmine, I'd be Aladdin. I was the male character so often that friends didn't even bother to ask me who I wanted to be after a while. They always knew if there was a princess, I'd play the ragamuffin knight. If there was a pink Power Ranger, I'd be the male counterpart.

When I was in primary school I distinctly remember telling a boy called Daniel that I was going to have a sex change when I grew up. I know there was no way I really knew how this could work or what it really was, but I knew that was where I was going.

However, the decision to make any actually physical change didn't awaken until much later. I was too afraid of how it would affect everyone around me and I thought it would hurt them too much if I went through with it. I spent my early teens attempting to be 'normal' and 'feminine'. I grew my hair long and borrowed clothes from my stylish friend, I even went out with boys as a girl when I would much rather have been male with them. I used to imagine when we kissed or did anything more, that I was a boy rather than a girl.

It wasn't until I found access to the on-line world that I started to let the real me come out. I would log into chat rooms as myself, but my male self, and talk to people for hours and hours just to hear them refer to me as 'he' and 'him'.

The online world really helped me to reach out to other people in the same headspace as me. I suddenly discovered the likes of role players, gender queer people and activists who I never even knew existed before. I had genuinely thought there was something very wrong inside me which I had to keep a secret, but finding out there were others set me on a path to becoming who I wanted to be, instead of who I thought the world wanted me to be.

My boss where I used to work was transgendered as well, male to female, and she let me in on her secret because she could see it in me. She told me a lot of stories about her experiences and how hard it was for her, but one piece of advice stuck in my head and lit a fire under my ass. She said basically "If this is who you are it's not going to change. You can't make it go away. So, get the ball rolling now while you're young, because the older you get the more time you are wasting in a life that isn't what you want."

At that time, I started to get my close friends, my partner and everyone around me who I knew would understand to refer to me as male. It made me feel so 'right' and just happy in a way I'd never known before.

The time I new for absolute certain that I was going to make physical changes was when I was in a restaurant in America and a friend ordered food for me because I was too shy to speak up to the waitress myself. He said I'll have [food] and HE'S gonna have [food]. It made me feel SO SO good to be referred to as he in a public place. I knew then, I wanted that feeling all the time.

From there, it was pushing and pushing through doctors and clinics and barriers and tests, fighting and fighting to get to where I am now. It's a long road, and a hard one for anybody travelling it. Where I am now feels right. It feels like now I don't have to fight to be who I am. I can concentrate on the rest of life and know that when people see me smile, cry, rage (it's rare) or anything, they'll be seeing me, and not the girl I left behind me, doing those things.
Firstly, I must say thank you all for your comments, favorites and watches. It's been overwhelming to see so much positive support of my work. Usually I thank each person individually but there are actually too many to keep doing that! Can you believe it?

So from the heart, I'll thank you all here instead. Each comment, fave and watch builds me up to keep making work and sharing personal thoughts and ideas about transitioning and other things in life that I want to work through using art.

I have recovered from surgery now, and life goes on. It was quite terrifying to jump into the world without hitting a wall for the first time. You see, it was hard to live life before surgery, because the waiting and not knowing threw up so many barriers for me in so many facets of life. With those walls all suddenly stripped away, stepping out into the world was a challenge. Like a rabbit that doesn't run from the hutch once the door is open, I was hesitant to try and fail at things I had not been able to even attempt before.

I can say now though that I am running full speed and achieving things I never thought I could. There will always be walls that come up in life, but I remind myself that after achieving such a huge goal, there is nothing else I can't do if I really set my mind to it, use my resources and time, and believe in my dreams.

I have not had much time to make artwork for a while now since I've been leaping into life, but hopefully there will be more to come soon. Thank you all once again for all of your support. If anybody wants to talk about transitioning please don't hesitate to send me a note. While I am not a therapist or councilor, I can certainly share my personal experiences with you.

- Saku
Thank you to everyone who send me comments and messages in regards to my surgery. It's over with now and I am a few weeks into my recovery. Scars are very angry looking but a lot better than they were at first and will only get better. I am feeling brave enough to perhaps upload some less ambiguous progress photographs soon.

The whole experience was so intense and interesting. It's difficult to know what to say about it all but if anyone has any questions I an open to talk about how it was for me personally.

I am happy to be able to now get back into making artwork and thinking about things in a visual way. Thank you all again for your comments, watches, faves and interest in my work. The encouragement and inspiration I'm receiving from all of you who interact with me here is a huge wind beneath my wings.

On another note, I would really like to point people who are interested in my work toward the photography of abitKnoxie. His images are an inspiration to me and I find his work extremely brave and beautiful.

Thanks again.

- Saku
This morning I finally got the phone-call I was waiting for. I will be going in for top surgery on Thursday the 13th September. Needless to say this will inspire more artwork from me, but will also delay me in posting for a short while.

It has been a long long journey to get to this point and I am sure will be just as long afterwards as well. Let's see where the road leads. Thank you all for your comments, favourites and watches.

- Saku