Texas contemporary artist Saakred came out as transgender in 2015 and has been documenting their experience through music and visual art ever since.
“Sin Nombre, Sin Cuerpo,” which means ‘without name, without body’ in Spanish, was on view at the Visual Arts Center this month and details the experience of being trans and Latino in Texas. It features new art forms from Saakred, including fashion and auto-body design.
The Daily Texan spoke with Saakred about the exhibition. Organized into two acts, Trans Act I and Trans Act II, the project explores the effects of Saakred’s transition, masculinity and acclimating to a new body. Saakred said they hope other trans people find a sense of understanding in the exhibition.
The Daily Texan: Tell us a little bit about your exhibition, “Sin Nombre, Sin Cuerpo.”
Saakred: The exhibition is a body of work that marks a span of maybe five years. Within those years was this transition— geographically, emotionally and obviously, physically. A lot of the work does have to do with the medical transition, which is a small part of it. The title “Sin Nombre, Sin Cuerpo” is about that — not knowing where you belong and feeling like you don’t have a name. Sin cuerpo means “without a body.” It’s just this in between space. This idea of not having a name has a lot to do with the danger of it. There’s a lot of fear that trans people have to navigate everyday, and I think they do a lot of that silently.
DT: What was your support system like during your transition?
S: Every trans person’s experience is different, but people have an understanding of their gender at a very young age. I’ve known since elementary school, and everything up to this point has been transitioning. I had some support, but it has been very difficult with my family and friends. For the most part, you feel very alone. Hopefully, the exhibition gave others who are on a similar path some understanding. It’s celebratory on purpose. The car hoods (in the exhibition) are very colorful and flamboyant. You come out of the other side (of the transition), and you’re reborn again, like a beautiful butterfly.
DT: What message do you want people to take away from the exhibition?
S: Trans people are just like everybody else, but they’re also very special in the amount of strength and bravery it takes to live their truth. To be able to live freely is a kind of bravery and strength that most people don’t ever have to exercise. I want people to know that trans people are brilliant and talented and strong and normal.
DT: Is there anything you want to say to young people who are transitioning?
S: There’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Transitioning when you’re young can be one of the hardest things, but build a network for yourself with the people that show you they care about you and love you. Listen to them. Let them be there for you. Don’t be afraid to be honest about how hard it is. Ask for help when you need it because it is a very difficult experience. It’s not something to go through alone.