queer/disrupt gained insight on this piece by reading the abstract, as well as through an interview conducted by Hannah Ayres with Seren.
Seren is a PhD researcher at Manchester working on Welsh language revival. Like many people, Seren struggled during the COVID-19 pandemic. They felt isolated from their community, their dysphoria worsened, and they worried and stressed a lot. They found the change to the online space difficult and felt dysphoric having not outed themselves at their old job. One day in spring 2020, just by coincidence, Seren began to doodle throughout a Zoom meeting. They found that the movement of their hand across the page caused their thoughts to settle, and they felt calm for the first time in weeks. They felt that this process of doodling was therapeutic and brought them into a particular headspace. Since then, whenever their "brain starts to shout so loud that I can't hear myself", they pick up a pen and begin to draw the outline of a Flatboy. This term plays off of jokes about top surgery and this was on Seren's mind a lot as they were conceiving of how they might change.
Seren's art centres trans bodies, faces, and emotions - especially joy, hope, and wonder. They began by drawing people who had had top surgery, depicting these flatboys as standing tall, topless, and proud to show off their scars. Seren has been waiting to get their top surgery for years, a goal that felt further impeded by the pandemic, and they felt it therapeutic to draw what could someday be them, and that reflected people they love. Seren has since progressed to make art reflecting a variety of trans bodies and souls. Trans bodies are so often see as a sight of pain and wrongness, but they want to portray them as something whole and full of joy. Trans people have particularly struggled during the pandemic and they wanted to be able to give something back to them.
Creating this art has transformed Seren's quarantine experience. They find the process of bringing a painting to life almost addictive, tending to finish around eight pieces a week. Their art has enabled them and the viewer to escape the current world to a more magical and joyful one. They can now imagine a future filled with trans love and hope. Seren stated that it is worth typing in #transart on Instagram as it is difficult to build an audience for this content and it is really interesting to see trans individuals make sense of their own bodies and dysphoria through art.