Today’s post is about a quilt, about my sister and about human rights. If you are someone who doesn’t like it when quilters mix quilting and current events, you may want to stop here.
About 4 ½ years ago my brother called me one night. He said he had something to tell me. He probably should have told me to pull over as I was driving at the time, but he shared that he was transgender and planned to transition to be the woman he knew he was.
I admit to being shocked. How could this man, my brother, a real guy’s guy, be transgender? But he was. He said he had known since he was a very young boy that he really was a girl.
It must have been so hard for him to have two younger sisters that got to do all the things he wanted to do. And so over the next few years he transitioned to being Jessica. She is so happy! It is so nice to see her content with who she is and excited about how she presents herself to the world. For the most part our family has been supportive. Many of her friends were supportive, though some have fallen away as the change was hard for them.
Some of you may know that I had done an art quilt a few years earlier for her Fly Me to The Moon book. Well, my version of an art quilt. Art quilting is not something I usually do. It really isn’t a skill set in my wheelhouse.
The Art Quilt
But she loved the story of my sister and so I worked on a quilt. What a great way for me to work thru my feelings about my brother actually being my sister. During this time I also spoke with a few friends who had family members who had come out as transgender. I realized what helped me the most was remembering that she was still the same person. Her laugh was the same, her sense of humor the same. Her love of baseball (and her team) stayed the same. She was the same person but in a new package. One that fit with how she saw herself.
And so my quilt, Still You, came into being. This art quilt is filled with symbolism. My sister loves boating and being on the water. The boat represents her physical journey thru the change, the one we could all see and watch happen.
The stitched lines of the sails represents her emotional journey – visible but harder to see. The choppy waves in the quilting represent her journey as she went out in the world, faced discrimination, jeers, rude comments and threats to her safety. She now carries mace in her purse.
The image of the woman is her now; the shadow behind her represents the man she was. The man that is still a part of who she is today.
The boy is her old self, surrounded by the shadows of girls- representing not only the girl she wanted to be but her sisters. (I realized after I made the quilt that I showed all 3 of her sisters; we had a younger sister we lost at only 4 days old).
I am proud of her for becoming who she has wanted to be all her life in spite of the difficulties.
I am proud my art quilt made it into the book. I am proud the entire collection of quilts from the book is currently on display at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah.
And I am very proud that this week the Supreme Court stood up for the LGTBQ community and said that they can’t be discriminated against in the workplace.
In spite of all that has gone on recently in this country, every now and then there is a little glimmer of hope. I hope that we can all become the people we were meant to be – people who accept others for where they are and who they are, even when we don’t understand.
In case you are wondering, this art quilt was made primarily with hand dyed fabric that I dyed with a friend, a few commercial fabrics and some tulle.