A Trans Tarot Deck

Exhibition TitleOne of the original reasons that I started doing web comics, was as a way around "artist's block" which I had in late 2005. I was having a block over my Visual Arts Honours project - "A Trans Tarot Deck".

I'd had the idea for some time - a series of images that would show different aspects of Gender Transition. Apart from an artist, I'm also a Tarot reader, and the idea of using an allegorical deck as a format for those images, came naturally.

I started this by drawing two cards: Gender Dysphoria (the first) and Gender Sythesis (the last). I knew that if I could draw these cards, I could draw all of them. In all but one case (which was hand drawn from a mirror reflection) the images were initially constructed using photo compositing via Paint Shop Pro / Photoshop. These were then printed at A3 sizes and I used a lightbox to draw them. the drawings were then photocopied to A4 size, scanned in at 400 dpi and colour added via PSP / PS. Finally borders were added and they were printed two at a time on a 110 cm wide printer.

And now, 21 months later, I have finished the set. You can read about the extra card I created after the thumbnails shown below. If you'd like to see a larger version of a card, just click on the relevant thumbnail.

Towards the end of the process, I became more aware of the ongoing murders of transgendered people. This became more dramatic when I learnt the fate of Gisberta, a homeless trans woman in Portugal who was tortured to death and then had her body thrown down a 10 metre pit. I came to consider the idea that just one "death card" (which shows a suicide) was not enough, that I needed a second card showing murder.

Card 13b - Death : Murder - (Death)As I post this page, I've just finished printing that card (see right for a larger thumbnail - click on the image for a much larger view). Rather than show a broken body or scene showing the act, I'm going to draw a sampling of victims and candle. The research I've done for this has been disturbing. Trans people have been the victims of "hate crimes" since whenever - my research showed that recently we have been: shot; stabbed; beaten; shot multiple times; hanged; defenestrated; run over and down; tortured to death and perhaps most disturbing, burnt to death.

If the above was a description of the fates of fictional characters, it might even be amusing in a "gallows humour" way. But these were real people who died in countries all over the world. My research sickened me, but confirmed my resolve that a 2nd death card - a 23rd Tarot card (for murder) be added.

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