These 9 powerful portraits are more than art. They're acts of resistance.

These colorful, bold portraits aren't just artwork — they're powerful declarations of courage and strength.

The Trans Life & Liberation Art Series is in direct response and opposition to the harassment, violence, and legislative oppression transgender people encounter each day.

Trans visual artists from around the country are paired with trans leaders and organizers active in the equality movement to create colorful, vibrant portraits.


Portrait by Luna Merbruja and Micah Bezant, used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

The project highlights people within the margins of the already marginalized transgender community, including trans women of color, trans people with disabilities, and incarcerated trans people of color.

Each colorful portrait tells a story and serves as an empowering living tribute.

Sadly, the living piece is all too important.

Transgender people, particularly trans women and femmes of color, are victims of violence and murder at an alarming rate. In 2015, more than 21 trans people were murdered. And there have already been 16 murders in 2016.

A youth activist lights candles at a vigil. Photo by Dondi Tawatao/Getty Images.

"It's about documenting our own stories, and creating our own herstories," participant LaSaia Wade said in a promotional video about the project.

Since February 2016, a new portrait has been shared each week on social media.

Here are nine more of these beautiful pieces. See their portraits, read their names and stories, and honor the work of those on the front lines of the movement.

1. Longtime advocate and activist LaSaia Wade hopes to open her own cafe to provide jobs for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.

Portrait by LaSaia Wade and Micah Bazant, used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

2. Educator and researcher Malcolm Shanks is a lead trainer at Race Forward and studies historical anti-oppression movements to inform their activism.

Portrait by Malcolm Shanks and Edxie Betts, used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

3. Native trans and two-spirit elder Rickie Blue-Sky is a tireless advocate and educator despite being incarcerated for the past 33 years in a women's prison.

Portrait by Rickie Blue-Sky and Micah Bazant, used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

4. Micky Bradford is a transfemme organizer and co-founder of Southern Fried Queer Pride.

Her portrait shows her voguing next to the police to protest North Carolina's hateful "bathroom bill."

Portrait by Micky Bradford and Micah Bazant, used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

5. Isa Noyola is a trans Latina activist supporting LGBT immigrants.

"We have for many years waited for people to get it together and develop a language and consciousness around trans communities, and we no longer can wait. We no longer can wait for other people to get it together," Noyola told the Trans Life & Liberation Project.

Portrait by Isa Noyola and Micah Bazant, used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

6. Janetta Johnson is an organizer and facilitator working to decolonize spaces and end violence against the transgender and gender-nonconfirming community.

Portrait by Janetta Johnson and Micah Bazant, used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

7. Kiyan Williams is a performance artist and storyteller. They travel across the country using movement to explore history and identity.

Portrait by Kiyan (Kiki) Williams and Micah Bazant, used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

8. HIV educator and minister Tanesh Watson Nutall splits her time between the San Francisco AIDS Foundation, the City of Refuge-United Church of Christ, and her five grandchildren.

Portrait by Tanesh Watson Nutall and Matice Moore used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

9. Ky Peterson defended himself during a vicious attack, and he's been in prison ever since.

When a stranger brutally attacked and sexually assaulted him in 2011, Ky Peterson fired a fatal shot at his attacker.

Though the rape kit showed signs of an attack and Georgia has a "stand your ground" law, Ky was advised to take a plea deal and is serving 20 years in a women's prison. Only in February 2016 did he begin receiving transition-related medical care.

The Trans Life & Liberation Project worked with Ky, his partner, and different social justice organizations to time the release of his portrait with a social media campaign and a petition for his release. Through #Justice4Ky, thousands of new people have heard about his case, and over 4,600 have signed the petition for his release and parole.

Portrait by Ky Peterson and Micah Bazant, used with permission from the Trans Life & Liberation Art Series.

As emotional, beautiful, and heart-wrenching as these stories are, they're just the beginning.

"We, especially as young trans people, often feel like we have to go through life alone," artist and participant Noah Jenkins said in the promotional video. "But projects like this, that uplift our voices and center our stories and our narratives, they remind us that we do have that strength, and we deserve to feel it."

That's why the team behind the project is crowdsourcing funds to keep the project going.

The money will be used to expand the project, as artists and participants are paid for their time and talent. Later this year, the group hopes to print a coloring book and a limited-edition full-color art book. They're also planning a gallery exhibition and panel discussion in Oakland, California, this winter.

Participant Juniper Cordova-Goff said it best: "This visual movement is revolutionary, empowering, and, yes, because of our people, beautiful."

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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When "bobcat" trended on Twitter this week, no one anticipated the unreal series of events they were about to witness. The bizarre bobcat encounter was captured on a security cam video and...well...you just have to see it. (Read the following description if you want to be prepared, or skip down to the video if you want to be surprised. I promise, it's a wild ride either way.)

In a North Carolina neighborhood that looks like a present-day Pleasantville, a man carries a cup of coffee and a plate of brownies out to his car. "Good mornin!" he calls cheerfully to a neighbor jogging by. As he sets his coffee cup on the hood of the car, he says, "I need to wash my car." Well, shucks. His wife enters the camera frame on the other side of the car.

So far, it's just about the most classic modern Americana scene imaginable. And then...

A horrifying "rrrrawwwww!" Blood-curdling screaming. Running. Panic. The man abandons the brownies, races to his wife's side of the car, then emerges with an animal in his hands. He holds the creature up like Rafiki holding up Simba, then yells in its face, "Oh my god! It's a bobcat! Oh my god!"

Then he hucks the bobcat across the yard with all his might.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

Keep Reading Show less