Image Courtesy of Chella Man
Chella Man, a New York based, “genderqueer, deaf, Jewish-Chinese, transitioning” artist speaks volumes from not only their abstract, Basquiat-esque artwork, but their informative Youtube videos as well. While reaching out to Chella, I was greeted with a sweet and casual demeanor that they expressed. I was able to ask them both mellow and genuine questions, and here are their responses:
- Hello, Chella! Tell Affinity readers a little bit about yourself:
Hi, Affinity mag! I am an eighteen-year-old, deaf, queer, genderqueer, Chinese/Jewish artist.
- Where do you find inspiration for your artwork? From other artists, real-life, your feelings, etc.?
My inspiration is pulled from anything I stumble upon that I find aesthetically pleasing. This could be a Picasso in the MoMA or a polka-dotted hat on the NY subway. Mainly, however, I create my art by extracting my emotions from life experiences.
- You recently began taking testosterone and just had a top surgery consultation at New York University. How do these beginning stages of your physical appearance transitioning to appear more masculine make you feel?
The masculine changes I notice on testosterone are not huge yet, but anything that I notice makes me absolutely euphoric for the rest of the day. It is a clear reminder: I’m finally becoming who I was meant to be, physically.
- You don’t shy away from mentioning how you are deaf. Does this limit you in any way from living a full life? Is there anything you would like readers to know about being deaf?
Being deaf encourages me to live a better life, honestly. I have learned SO much from it. I actually created a whole video talking about this point.
- You have mentioned before that you have experienced body dysphoria. Are there any tips you have for dealing with this?
I have also made a video on body dysphoria tips!
- Recent news broke that Donald Trump informally mentioned that he will be “banning” all transgender personnel from serving in the military. What are your thoughts on this?
I wrote a whole post on this. I’ll copy it here:
“This morning, Tr*mp announced in 3 tweets that transgender humans are not allowed to serve in the military.
After hearing this, I felt like I needed to throw up. The feeling hasn’t left.
The military has been a place transgender humans sometimes turn to after being kicked out of their homes. In addition to this, there are already THOUSANDS of active transgender humans in the military who have put SO MUCH of their time, energy, and life into helping others.
Tr*ump’s dehumanizing decision has slammed a huge blow on the transgender community. It publicly stripped trans people of their rights, only encouraging transphobia.
I am livid, hurt, and worried.
If you need someone to talk to I am here. I will continue to put my heart and soul into fighting for the queer community. But to reach more professional people on this topic, the transgender lifeline is 877-565-8860.
Please please please spread this number around!”
- What is something you wish readers knew about being genderqueer/nonconforming?
I simply hope people are empathetic enough to understand not everyone FITS into the binaries of boy and girl. Gender is a spectrum as most things are in life. Humans are diverse, so it should be no surprise that not everyone can fit into two boxes. For example, when people ask if you are a “boy or girl,” I just say “or.”