Know Where You Stand - The 17th oil painting from the series Diary of a Trans Woman, by artist Nicki Lucio

The ongoing body of work, and the first day of my installation Hello World in the McNay exhibition Transamerica

Just over two weeks into the portrait process, at this point, I noticed that I’ve fallen into the rhythm of the paintings. Each stroke I am to take when rendering a facial landmark, where to start, and how to proceed. Each canvas I finish is placed aside and the next is prepared. Slowly, however, they are starting to take an emotional toll on me. Today’s self-portrait clearly illustrates my frustrations with me. Sometimes it can be hard to know where you stand.

I’m very well aware of what I look like and know what looks back when I gaze into the mirror.  I can’t say that I’m very fond of the person looking back. 

I can see how my facial features don’t exactly scream “female”. The nose, jawline, and prominent cheekbones all conspire against me. They serve to betray the sense of gender identity I try to portray to the world. 

I know what the world around me thinks.  To stand out as a trans person can be difficult. People will be patronizingly kind, sweet, rude, hostile, or just flat-out ignore me.  Rarely do I feel like my identity as female is validated in genuine.

I know where I stand as a trans woman.  No amount of chemicals will ever fix my jawline, reduce my broad shoulders, or fix my hips. 

At this point in my work, and my transition, I was really struggling with that person in the mirror. Acknowledging myself like this validated the pursuit of these self-portraits.

Reconciling with the task of painting one’s self-portrait over and over again, confronting every single flaw that your eyes perceive in the mirror, would wear any person down, given enough time. 

It was my greatest hope during all this that, somehow, along the way, I would learn to love myself. To be able to cast aside the dark clouds that seem to follow me from one reflection to the next endlessly. 

This is my self-portrait oil painting number 17 in my series, Diary of a Trans Woman.

From my installation Hello World at the McNay Museum of Modern Art as part of the exhibition Transamerica: Gender, Identity, Appearance Today during the Summer of 2019.

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