AUSTIN, Texas — Thursday March 31 is Transgender Day of Visibility. It’s a day when non-binary and transgender people celebrate each other.

However, this year’s events have a different message in response to the state’s investigations into gender-affirming care as child abuse.

As the LGBTQ community stands up for trans rights at demonstrations and rallies, some are using different tactics to advocate for trans families in Texas.

What You Need To Know

  • Texas courts are still deciding whether the state’s gender affirming investigations can continue

  • A judge reinstated a temporary injunction halting the investigations during the legal process

  • Texans are using Transgender Day of Visibility to rally in support of transgender families

  • A portrait artist is showcasing trans and non-binary Texans in response to this discrimination

Alyssa Burtt travels around the world painting people. When she landed here in Texas and saw what was going on with the transgender community, she used her art as activism.

Instead of picket signs, she paints. It’s a protest through pictures, and her portraits speak as loudly as words.

Alyssa Burtt, the artist. (Spectrum News 1)

“I don’t know if I’d call myself an activist, I just felt really called to meet the moment,” Burtt said.

The multi-disciplinary creative from Canada is completing a residency in Austin. Her upcoming exhibit “Spectrum” is shining a light on non-binary and trans Texans like Jess Sterling.

Sterling says she is considered a non-binary trans feminine, but she identifies as gender fluid. While presenting more feminine, she doesn’t care about pronouns or even names.

“When I go to define myself, my gender is not something that is even on like, the list,” Sterling said.

Sterling says transgender and non-binary people like her are rarely portrayed in art, so this experience alone makes her feel seen.

Jess Sterling and Alyssa Burtt. (Spectrum News 1)

“Transgender and non-binary beauty isn’t something that is necessarily used as a muse,” Sterling said.

Burtt’s show and her art are all about breaking boundaries through understanding, which she says is lacking in the current political climate.

“My mission statement is really 'Regard, transforms,'” she said. “In my experience, when you look at something without judgment, something in you changes.”

Her sessions are about getting to know the person she is painting through conversation, photography, and art. Part of the process is letting the people she paints take part in creating their own portrait.

A portrait of Jess Sterling. (Courtesy of Alyssa Burtt)

“How can we go beyond the binary and explore more of the spectrum through really that individual, very personal expression of what gender means to each person?” Burtt said.

Burtt’s portraits represent her subject’s point of view as much, if not more, than her own.

“I definitely want people to see that there is power in beauty that is different,” Sterling said.

Her showcase is not just advocating for gender equality, all proceeds will go to Allgo and Equality Texas for trans rights and wellbeing.

The “Spectrum” showcase is on Saturday April 2 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Canopy Open Studios in Austin.

On the same day, Texas Freedom Network is holding its Transgender Day of Visibility rally at the Texas State Capitol starting at noon.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story misspelled the organization Allgo. (April 1, 2022)