Artist and Activist
Fabian Echavarri's drawings spread awareness about transgender issues.
Fabian Echavarri knew he wanted to be an artist since he was 4 years old. As a child, he would draw for hours on the large blank art canvases his mother bought him, rather than playing outside or watching cartoons.
“Art is important for me because it helps me to relax and get my feelings and thoughts out of my brain,” says Echavarri, a Latino autistic trans man.
His most recent artwork is inspired by his experiences and identities, and he uses it to bring awareness to issues that the trans community faces.
In 2019, he created a piece titled Deadgendering, which features a young trans man with blue skin surrounded by pink speech bubbles that misgender and disrespect him. The artwork was based on his experiences while coming out in high school. Although he asked his teachers to call him Fabian and refer to him with he/him pronouns, many of them failed to do so—leading students to do the same.
“When people accidentally misgender and deadname [me], I feel like I’m getting stabbed by a knife,” he says.
He’s also made artwork inspired by his experience with starting hormone therapy. His 2019 drawing Testosterone Cypionate illustrates the first time he injected testosterone into his body, and the joy he felt after that.
“The testosterone helped me reduce my gender dysphoria,” he explains. “It was like liberating myself. Finally, I can be normal and just like another guy in life.”
Echavarri’s passionate artwork has been recognized by several art competitions. When he was 12 years old, he won fourth place in an art contest in Mexico called Imaginantes. He also won first place in the 2017 Amigas y Amigos de Otros Lados art competition in Mexico with work that captured what it’s like to immigrate to another country in search of a better life and opportunity—which mirrors his own journey to Texas.
His artwork has appeared in several venues throughout Houston, including a showcase at the Hardy & Nance Studios. He also presented artwork at the 2018 Chocolate And Art Show Houston, hosted by photographer Libertad Betancourt, who is Echavarri’s mother.
“When Fabian is in an exhibition, people love his art. I’m not talking like a mom; I’m talking in general,” Betancourt says. “I’m so proud of him!”
At that 2018 show, visitors would almost press their noses against Echavarri’s pieces to take in all of the detail and color.
Echavarri supports the trans community not only through his art, but also by volunteering at local trans organizations such as Organización Latina de Trans en Texas (OLTT). The non-profit educates and provides health services, legal advice, community, and resources to trans folks—everything from food to emergency funding. Echavarri became aware of OLTT after the group’s founder, Ana Andrea Molina, helped him correct his gender and name marker on government ID documents.
“She saved my life,” he says.
OLTT’s founder also helped create the Chicos Trans Masculinos Oltt Houston support group for Latino trans men like Echavarri. The group has given him the space to talk about issues that matter to him, such as immigration, sex work, sexual health, gender dysphoria, mental illness caused by transphobia, and more. Sometimes, he creates artwork based on their group-meeting discussions.
Echavarri plans to feature more body diversity in his upcoming artwork, as well as create more black-and-white pieces inspired by his dreams. He also encourages other artists to express themselves based on their own experiences. “Don’t copy the drawings from other people,” he says. “Just be yourself!”
Follow Fabian Echavarri on YouTube and DeviantArt (at Fabian Artist), on Instagram (at fabian.artist and fabianechech19), and on Facebook (at Artist Fabi).
This article appears in the September 2021 edition of OutSmart magazine.