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The Beauty and Importance of Art

Summer was 18 years of age when they came to Covenant House Vancouver (CHV), in early 2020, during the start of the pandemic. They came to us from a hospital setting, as they were dealing with their psychosis and suicidality. The psychosis stemmed from family not allowing Summer to be transgender.

Summer loved art. That was their passion. When Summer arrived at CHV, their art was very dark — black and white compositions full of dead or decaying images, like rotting trees.

While the pandemic “lockdown” was so detrimental to so many, it was actually a beneficial time for Summer, who, for the first time, had a safe space to try and figure out who they are.

High school was not kind to Summer. When their appearance changed dramatically, to align with the person that they were inside, they were badly bullied. They would often return to CHV in tears. One day, a social worker at CHV accompanied Summer to school, as support, while Summer explained to the counsellor that they were transitioning. The counsellor, and school, were very supportive and began making changes. Due to the binary change rooms, Summer did not want to participate in PE. To make up those credits, the counsellor arranged for Summer to do some administrative work.

Last year, Summer was able to celebrate Pride for the first time. Summer submitted artwork for the Pride Parade that was made into posters and pins. Summer’s artwork has gone from black and white to a flourish of colour and celebration. During the Pride Parade with CHV, Summer could be seen dancing down the street, handing out their pins to the crowd. Summer, who is quite shy, is now reaching out to other 2SLGBTQAI+ groups to meet other young people. Summer also participates in an art group at CHV.

After completing high school, Summer went on to the Art Institute, to study animation. They took a variety of courses including, anime, 3D animation, and script writing. Summer was now in Rights of Passage and had begun to work on a comic book to help Asian parents better understand their trans kids.

Summer has presented their anime-style comic book at a variety of functions to solicit feedback and advice. The scope and breadth of the book has changed. The book has now become three books: an introduction to transgender youth and what they go through, the relationship struggles of trans youth, and the education system and trans youth. The original book only had illustrations. Summer has now added dialogue and other copy, which has been difficult, because to write about what their experiences means reliving the trauma that they’ve been through.

Summer is in the process of getting the first book published, the second one is ready to go, and they are currently working on the third. The scope of the books has also expanded and now includes all communities.

Summer described the comic book series to their social worker as being “like the Spider-Man series, but for transgender people.”

Summer is flourishing. In addition to creating their comic book series, they are working for Uber Eats and are in the process of changing their name legally, to make it easier to apply for jobs, and also so that they no longer have to be reminded of a name that they no longer associate with. Fortunately, the process has become easier for trans people. What used to take a year, now takes three months.

We are very proud of Summer — their courage and resilience, the progress that they have made, and their compassionate drive to help other trans youth, through their comic books. We can’t wait to see them published!