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TRANSFIGURE PRINT CO.

CHOSEN FAMILY: BEYOND BLOOD is a design created for the queer and trans online apparel brand and printing company, TRANSFIGURE PRINT CO., designed by Queer and Trans freelance artist Dexter Komakaru (@DXTROSE), inspired by his own story and found home within his queer chosen family. Having grown up in poverty, navigating the struggles of housing insecurity and cycles of both intergenerational and systemic harm as a trans youth, Dexter described his survival growing up as embodying the phrase “it takes a village”, as he wouldn’t be where he is today without the family members, related by blood, bond, or community, who supported him growing up. 


Despite growing up in an urban environment, displaced and disconnected from other indigenous community or nations, Dexter was able to still find extended chosen family growing up through his grandmother and their connection to the detribalized and intertribal community at the Native American Indian Center of Central Ohio. After coming out as queer as a youth, he experienced housing instability and struggled with loved ones who didn’t accept who he was. Nonetheless, he survived through the love and support he found with chosen family he made along the way, from school nurses to youth centre volunteers. Now, as a liberated trans and queer young adult, artist, and activist, he knows the importance of chosen family more than ever. After reconnecting with a long-time friend and queer elder/mentor of his during a period of housing instability around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, he found a couch to crash on, and eventually found his family. A few weeks became a month which quickly turned into him being roommates and keys to move in with his two queer friends, another queer transman and a queer lesbian. The pandemic ended but he quickly realized that this found family dynamic he’d found himself in was staying. Supporting and loving one another through surgeries, grief, long-lasting memories, highs and lows, Dexter has found the definition of found family and a vision for the future he never pictured before. 


They all live and work together as one happily dysfunctional unit and queer vegan ecosystem of 3 humans, 2 dogs, and 2 cats, living and working towards their dream of a liberated future together, cherishing the love and family they’ve found in one another and continue to grow everyday. Like any family, they’re not perfect, but it’s the revolutionary queer act of loving compassionately and on purpose that keeps them together.


You can view more of Dexter’s work and learn more about his story @dxtrose on Instagram / TikTok or at dxtrose.com.


IMAGE DESCRIPTION + MEANING

(IN DEXTER’S WORDS)


Human figures holding hands

This represents community and being held by those around you. 

Set of house keys

Something simple and mundane but represents having a place to come home too.

Text Exchange

A message exchange that me and my queer family have too often, especially when we’re traveling or away for awhile, just expressing our love for one another in the moment and telling the other to make it home safe. 

Tree of life

A long-time symbol of family and family dynamics, to represent the roots we come from, but also the new branches, generations, and chosen family branches we still have yet to grow. 

Campfire

I can’t even tell you how many deep fireside chats I’ve had with my queer chosen family that have been huge character development moments for all of us, but also the warmth chosen family brings especially around the holidays.

Lighter

It represents the memory of being taught by my queer elder how to use a lighter. I never knew how to use a standard lighter until a few years ago and he taught me how to do it, so it’s another symbol of our bond, and the two butterflies on the beaded lighter case represent me and him, since we’re both trans.

Eagle feather

Since eagles are an animal that partner for life, and are considered a sacred animal related to the idea of family in the indigenous Northern community I come from. For me, it also represents my grandfather, whose name was Silver Eagle, who despite not being biologically related to me or married into our family legally, was still my grandfather and my biggest male role model growing up, the definition of chosen family. 

DNA helix growing past it’s structure into mycelium mushrooms

Representing the strength of community and connection beyond our own biology, with a rainbow symbol in the middle to align it with queer identity.

Polaroid snapshot

This is from one of my queer chosen family’s own previous vacation photos, where we all stood with our feet together on the beach. Just a cute happy memory and a moment of peace/love together.

Two hands holding knife

Probably my favourite symbol I included, which is a recreation of a 19th century tattoo design believed to have been popular among gay criminals. Not only is it just a badass symbol it also symbolizes how despite demonization and criminalization of our very existence as queer/trans people to this day, we still embrace love and connection with one another and solidarity in spite of it all. 

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