Trans And Gender-Nonconforming People Share The Stories Behind Their Tattoos
"For me, tattoos are an investment in self-love."
1. "It reminds me that I'm blessed to still be here."
"I have a caduceus symbol tattooed on my left forearm. This image was adopted as the symbol for medicine sometime in the late 19th century. It has been used to represent modern medicine and for me, it is used to represent my medical struggles. I suffer from several chronic illnesses, some invisible and some not, and I have battled them for almost my entire life. I got this tattoo to show that even though some of my illnesses may be invisible, even though they may get the better of me sometimes, every single new day is a day I've fought these illnesses, and won. It reminds me that I'm blessed to still be here."
2. "I've spent too long believing that my queer, trans and black body was disposable, and I've done my part to chip away at myself."
3. "This song kept me going through a lot of hard times and means a lot to me."
4. " I decided to get it to be a permanent reminder to myself, and others, that I am beautiful, inside and out."
"I am a transgender girl from Western Australia and this is my tattoo. I got it whilst attending Beauty School to become a professional makeup artist. I wanted something that was going to be meaningful and also represent the person that I am today. This tattoo was extremely therapeutic. I decided to get it to be a permanent reminder to myself, and others, that I am beautiful, inside and out. Despite not always feeling that growing up, I can guarantee that I do now. It shows a side of me that is generally quite easily noticed from my appearance, glamorous.. But that isn't what it is about. It's about how I feel, not how I look."
5. "I decided to get the chemical molecule of testosterone with one of my syringes going through it. Just to be a nerd."
6. "For me, tattoos are an investment in self-love."
7. "I am coming closer to representing the man that I know I really am."
8. "The butterfly is a traditional representation of transition but I needed it to be more than that."
9. "Doesn't matter if it's a wave or a tsunami, I'll persevere."
"The anchor symbolizes strength and stability and being transgender in today's society, that's hard to find. I see the ink as a reminder that no matter how tough my gender dysphoria is, how difficult it is to be respected, or how challenging it is to fight the social constructs of gender that attempt to strip me from my masculinity, I can get through it. Doesn't matter if it's a wave or a tsunami, I'll persevere."
10. "I'm attracted to the old fashion style needles and wanted the colors not to be bright but to be almost like black and white but with a bit of blue to make it pop."
11. "The tattoo itself is a stylized two, representing my second rate past and broken apart to symbolize my stubborn need to get better."
12. "Bumps and scrapes may cause us pain but our truths are what make us who we are, take pride & self love in your truth."
13. "I was told when I was younger and transitioning that it was just a phase. The moon has phases, and no one ever questions that."
"My birth name means 'bound in chains'. A year after I legally changed my name (about two years after I came out as trans) I broke the chains that had been on me through this tattoo. It's a chain of grass and feathers for the freedom I have gained through transitioning.
I also have moon phases and an elephant. The elephants name is Milton! I got the moons for my 4 year top surgery anniversary. I was told when I was younger and transitioning that it was just a phase. The moon has phases, and no one ever questions that! I've always felt very connected to the moon, and I wanted to hold that close to my heart as I move forward.
I get tattoos as a way to cope and celebrate life events. The dandelion celebrated a year of being out of an inpatient hospital, and now that experience is four years behind me. The heart and flowers is a way to celebrate my identity and pieces of myself that have been told they are hard to love."
— June, a queer trans femme with a lot of tattoos!
14. "Trying to live without fear was my motto at that time, so I wanted to get a tattoo that evoked this."
"I got this tattoo when I was around 6 months on T, because I was going through a rough patch: my family wasn't talking to me. I had come out about three months before, and I found myself having to find my own strength. Trying to live without fear was my motto at that time, so I wanted to get a tattoo that evoked this. Since I'm half-Persian, it was important to include part of my culture in the tattoo. After searching online, I found this phrase in Farsi online. It was the perfect match, and translates to 'do not fear'. My tattoo serves as a daily reminder to live without fear and stay strong."