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SJPC Presents: Student Voices, "I am here"

This week SJPC is featuring a beautiful piece of art celebrating trans pride and joy from Quin Buhs, a high school student in the Folsom Unified School District.

Quin Buhs (he/him) is a 17 year old LGBTQ + advocate. His goal is to create an equitable world where all trans people can thrive. Below you will find his painting (mediums: acrylic paint & paint pen) and its corresponding statement.

I Am Here

A figure sits in a still pond. Vibrant green lily pads and yellow lotuses float atop the deep blue surface. Scattered syringes and a cardboard container weave through the vegetation. The figure sits in the water while drawing into himself, arm resting on stacked cardboard boxes, hand shielding his face. The raised arm seems to be a protective force from a towering wave that also emerges out of the pond. A white, veiny eyeball peers out of the wave’s curling crest, pupil pointed at a koi in the center of the figure's chest. The koi, bright and yellow, dotted with scar patterns, swims towards the wave. Behind the figure, on the side opposite the wave, there is an explosion of colorful cloth stitched together. It seems to twist and twirl, a subtle, creeping darkness straining to breach the seams. The figure turns his gaze from the crashing chaos of the wave, from the penetrating eye, to face the still, peaceful pond below him.

For trans individuals in the U.S, the crashing wave is omnipresent, a wave that is threatening to tear asunder our rich identities and leave only darkness. At the center of the attacking wave is the eye of heteronormative society, which judges us as inhuman. As I am writing this in March 2023, there are already 483 anti-trans bills proposed across the country. These bills are trying to snatch away queer joy, symbolized by the calm pond with an array of syringes scattered throughout and bright colors stitched together. The bills are an attack on our humanity. They bind the hands that clawed through cisnormative expectations and knit our skin into the image we designed of ourselves. They threaten to shatter the needles and vials of hormones that brought us out of the darkness to a revolutionary rebirth. These expectations demand that I dress femininely, act like a woman or, if I embrace a cisnormative view of manhood, that I be sharp, rough, that I hide any softness. The koi resists these demands. It is resistance brought to life, springing forth from my chest, emerging from the water to stare back at the judgmental eye while I cast my gaze towards the peaceful pond. It will not be denied. The koi is part of me, growing from the oily liquid that flows from the bottles, the testosterone that shaped my body the way I wanted it to be shaped, the same bottles that support my arms. Finding the calm pond, finding the bright colors, finding the courage in the steady assurance of the koi, finding the pride in carving oneself into one's dreams through the use of oily liquid in bottles, is an act of resistance to the crashing waves of expectations. I have crawled out from the burdens of a cisnormative society. I have crafted myself in my image. I have chosen to treasure my softness. I have not broken–I bloomed. The fabric remains untorn. I will never, ever, stop singing my pride. I am here despite the world attempting to drown me under its expectations. I am proud, I am trans, and I will not bend. I am here.

By Quin Buhs

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