Jacob x Samuel
Finding family in friendship
Growing up as a trans man in a rural town started out as an isolating journey for mental health advocate, Jacob. That is until he found family in friendship
Together with artist Samuel in this thoughtfully crafted illustration they share stories of childhood connections, chameleons, and the power of chosen family… with a sprinkle of trans magic.
Jacob Woodford (he/him)
This artwork was inspired by the importance of chosen family and how family is not just defined by the people you are related to, but by the people who show up for you, support you and love you unconditionally.
Growing up I struggled with depression, anxiety and what I later learned was gender dysphoria. This happened throughout my youth and often left me feeling isolated and that I had no one to turn to, until I found support in my friends and community.
As a trans man who has experienced depression, anxiety, and family issues, I found support, acceptance, and a new definition of family in my friends. This piece explores a childhood connection with someone I consider a brother who has continuously held space and embraced me for who I am. This new definition of family has allowed me to have a bigger family where I often experience gender euphoria as I am held in a space of support and safety.
Samuel Luke Beatty (he/him)
I focused on the theme of ‘chosen family’ and the significance of Jacob reconnecting with his childhood best friend since coming out as transgender.
I used affirming items from Jacob’s life, to form an overarching narrative of his experiences. The hands supporting Jacob represent his childhood best friend (Jayden). A car window signifies a time Jacob was gendered correctly as a ‘guy’ alongside Jayden.
The chameleon represents Jacob changing over time on the surface, but deep down, his friendship with Jayden remained the same. Photos of them as young kids, teenagers, and now, today. A group chat with their friends, and Jacaranda flowers from Jacob’s childhood home.
MY VISIBLE MESSAGE
Embrace chosen family and find the people who create a space where you can be yourself and feel completely accepted.
Chosen family has allowed me to feel so much gender euphoria, acceptance and support. I think a lot of us hold onto the idea that family is the unit of people we were raised with and yes, they can have space in our lives, but it can often be our friends and community who create a space of safety, acceptance and unconditional love. My childhood connection is someone I hold very close to me, and I would be lost without them as this friend is a key member of my chosen family.
Another key message is the image of the chameleon. As a trans man, often I must outwardly change how people will perceive me to ensure I am safe or accepted in an environment. This chameleon, of which I have a tattoo, expresses that while it can be OK to alter how people will perceive you, it is also important to allow your true colours to be seen. That is something I have been able to do with my chosen family.
I felt really connected to Jacob’s story. I could relate to his experiences on such a deep level, and it came quite naturally for me to share his story in a way that I would similarly tell my own story. There’s always more to unpack, and I love using symbolism and putting meaning into all the items within my illustrations. It was quite emotional, reflecting on the importance of chosen family and what Jacob has been through. I tried to bring a level of sensitivity into the artwork so it would be uplifting, while honouring the resilience as well as the joy Jacob feels today.
Being in that collaborative space with Samuel was truly magic. We were able to connect with our separate stories and really empathise with the importance of chosen family and community, and how they create a space of support, acceptance, and love. Every time I see this artwork, I am blown away by Samuel’s ability to capture the key messages within my story and put them into art – both childhood connection and the importance of chosen family. Working with Samuel was magic, and as we would say throughout the collaboration, it was trans magic.
Jacob Woodford (he/him)
Jacob is a mental health youth advocate with a passion for advocating for rural young people and the LGBTQIAP+ community, especially the trans community. Jacob aims to create awareness around the unique experiences of trans people, and develop more spaces where everyone can feel safe in sharing their most authentic self. Jacob is currently studying social work, which he hopes will lead him to create more change so that people no longer have to feel like they are chameleons.
Samuel Luke Beatty (he/him)
Samuel is an artist who works across traditional and digital illustration, creating prints, artist books, and embroidery works. His practice uses graphic narratives and autobiographical storytelling to explore intimate realities of being transgender. Samuel currently lives and works in Sydney, on Bidjigal Land, NSW. Visit his website: samuellukeart.com.