The artist is creating an exhibit showcasing Ohio’s trans community

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Transgender rights are at the forefront of both the statehouse and schools in Ohio.

On Saturday, members and allies of the LGBTQ+ community gathered to show through art that trans people are human like everyone else.

A new art exhibit titled “This is Trans” at Stonewall Columbus opened Saturday and features 74 portraits of trans people from across Ohio with the goal of showing others that people who identify as trans are simply who they are.

“I stopped trying to be someone for everyone else and I became what I am for myself,” said artist Vincent-Natasha Gay or NV.

NV spent more than a year finding trans people like themselves, taking their photos, and then putting together the exhibit for a reason.

“This gallery is curated to show that being trans is simply being human and there really is nothing to fear,” NV said. “We’re really just trying to be our authentic selves.”

NV said they had launched a call on social media to showcase trans people and had received responses from people they had never met – 74 pictures of 74 different people, each with their own story and background.

“This gallery shows how different and diverse we are, and you can’t put us all in one group,” said Shannon Schneider, president of Queer Climbing Columbus, a nonprofit organization that helps discourage access to the outdoors and rock climbing Education, Equipment and Community.

Transgender rights have become a hot topic with Ohio lawmakers. A hearing was held Wednesday on House Bill 454, the Save Adolescents from Experimentation Act, which would ban minors from undergoing sex reassignment procedures.

This and other steps being taken at the state level to impede the rights of transgender people is why NV said the gallery’s timing was perfect.

“We should allow people to express themselves, to find themselves,” they said. “We should allow people to try on a hat to see if something fits, to see if the pronouns fit right. Finding yourself – that’s really what it’s about.”

“To have a gallery like this, with so many transgender people who are open and proud, is a kind of protest and shows that we will continue,” said Schneider.

The exhibit will be on view at Stonewall Columbus through the end of the year.