Transgender, non-binary artist takes part in gender identity festival

Scarlett Gamiz

Editor’s note: In this story, the subject uses the pronouns “they” and “their.” 

For the past several years, Jae Lin has battled hateful comments about their self-identification on the Internet. But after years of discrimination, they turned to the one thing they always found comfort in: their art. 

Lin, an Austin-based artist, struggles with their body as a trans non-binary individual, identifying as neither she nor he. Lin’s project, Doodle Me Alive, is a multifaceted display of drawings, letterings, typographies and triptych pieces that speak on subjects of pride, depression, trauma and joy. On Sept. 24, Doodle Me Alive will be featured at the Gender Unbound Art Festival, a one day event that focuses on showcasing the talents of trans, intersex and gender nonconforming individuals. 

“It’s a welcoming change to have an event that exhibits trans and gender-diverse artists,” Lin said. “We really hope that it creates a welcoming space for people in the transgender community as well as for people outside of the community to come in, see our art, our trans artists and our community members all in a fun, creative space.”  

One of Lin’s pieces, a triptych, is titled “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me,” and is a visualization of the cyclical nature of abuse in relationships. 

Many of Lin’s pieces reflect their experience struggling with depression and trauma. But in 2013, Lin began to find a form of therapy in their art. Today, it remains a comfort in their self identification. 

“I hardly claim to know all the answers, even within myself,” Lin said. “My coming out has been a very slow process, and it has definitely been painful, as it is for many trans people.” 

Self-taught illustrator and comic artist, Ethan Parker will have their artwork displayed at the Gender Unbound Art Festival as well. Parker said art has become their voice in expressing their role in the queer black community.

“It’s a necessary step to uplift the creative endeavors of marginalized communities,” Parker said.

Finance senior Akhil Patel said he’s excited to attend an art festival featuring a community that is underrepresented in society. He said he hopes to gain more insight on the artists and musicians who will be there.

“I think it’s important to attend an event that most people don’t relate too, so to be able to get a chance to see how trans, intersex and non-conforming people express themselves is pretty special,” Patel said. 

Since trans, intersex and queer individuals are rarely shown in TV, films, books and art galleries, Lin said this representation is important.

“It’s easy to feel alone, wrong, ugly and unwanted as trans and queer people when it seems like everything in the world is not made for you,” Lin said. “It’s natural that you would feel invisible and unwelcome.”

Today, Lin said she is focusing on a new project, an art and lettering series about how transness is worldwide and timeless. They hope to address the importance of self-love.  

“The world tries really hard to make us believe that there is no beauty or happiness in transness or gender diversity,” Lin said. “In reality, the existence and persistence of trans people is not only beautiful but revolutionary and powerful beyond imagination.”