In late 2016 I won a GAP grant from Artist Trust to complete this portrait series "Trans American History".  Each of these ten acrylic on canvas portraits honors a notable American trans (transgender or non-binary) figure. Featured are activists who tirelessly worked for the social justice and basic civil rights of trans persons or those whose tragic death spurred and has come to symbolize important trans activist movements.

As a transgender artist, I strongly feel that this is a particularly good time for this portrait series to be publicly displayed. Statistics show that American trans persons are far more likely to be murdered, assaulted,  or to experience extreme poverty, homelessness, job loss and numerous other hardships. The movement to add “gender identity” to anti-discrimination laws is necessary to combat the overwhelming discrimination and hardships the trans population faces. The ongoing efforts to ban trans people from using the public restroom matching their gender expression are a humiliating reminder of just how few human rights trans people have. There are currently 33 states that have absolutely no protections in place for trans Americans – and there are more trans people than most people realize. As of 2011, there were an estimated 700,000 trans people in the United States, roughly one person is trans out of every 300 people.

We are currently within a flash-point in the movement towards trans rights and this is the time to display this body of work which is intended to rise above fear and humiliation, with an affirming presentation of trans history currently in progress.

                        Blake Chamberlain

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