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LOOK: Artist Gives Trans Activists of Color the Magazine Covers They Deserve

LOOK: Artist Gives Trans Activists of Color the Magazine Covers They Deserve


Move over Vanity Fair; Julio Salgado's new project highlights the unseen faces and voices of trans communities.

As black trans activist and GLAAD media strategist Tiq Milan memorably declared in a recent speech: "We need to Kanye" the Caitlyn Jenner moment.

"Caitlyn, I'm gonna let you finish, but..." Milan half-joked to hundreds gathered for the Philadelphia Transgender Health Conference earlier this month. Appreciative chuckles rippled through the crowd as heads nodded: it's a sentiment shared widely among trans advocates, and particularly those who work at the intersections of racial, migrational, economic, prison, size, and disability justice.

Artist Julio Salgado, for one, wholeheartedly agrees. A queer, Latino, cisgender (nontrans) ally, the California-based illustrator took the moment to uniquely show what just one iteration of Milan's call-to-action could look like: a series of magazine covers for the fictional Trans People of Color magazine.

Bold, colorful, and emblazoned with headlines celebrating the often invisible work of 20 trans and gender-nonconforming activists and artists, the series is meant to celebrate the "brilliance and resiliency" of trans communities of color, Salgado told the Transgender Law Center.

"In the past, I've used my art to highlight cases of trans women of color who are in detention centers or even murdered," he explained. "While that is important, why is it that as an LGBTQ community we must only highlight trans people of color when something horrible is happening to them?"

Kay Ulanday Barrett, a Filipino writer who helped Salgado gather participation from many of the project's subjects, agrees. "This project celebrates TPOC bodies and brilliance customarily erased in the LGBTQ mainstream," they told The Advocate. "Our work and this project reminds us: migrant, black, disabled, fat, gender non-conforming, brown, and transfemme people run this shit and we must be honored daily."

Renee' Vallejo, a gender-nonconforming model and student, concurred that the project will show the world people who are often marginalized within queer spaces. "As a gender-nonconforming brown boi, it is quite often that I go unseen and unheard because of my identity," they explained. Both Vallejo and Barrett use the gender-neutral pronoun "they" to refer to themselves.

"We thrive and refuse to be erased!" added nonbinary trans man Ludo Foster.

Meanwhile, activist Jennicet Gutierrez pointed to the project's focus on "the critical work we are all doing for transgender rights, which the mainstream media often ignores."

See some of these advocates below and more covers on Julio Salgado's website here.


Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

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Mitch Kellaway