GENDER GEMS: Gender-positivity & the affirmative power of color

Colorful confidence and queer magic

Hi folks! My name is Shawn, and I’m so honored to be introducing GENDER GEMS to Little Red Tarot.

GENDER GEMS is my project to empower, affirm, and brighten the visibility of trans and gender-nonconforming folks with my art. I make hand-painted pronoun pendants and gender-positive enamel pins with bright color and big personality! Crystals are the theme and base of most of my designs, and I love to play with bold lines and saturated colors, drawing inspiration from pop art and tattoo art, the traditional rainbows and flags of the queer community, and of course the incredible variety of color in the natural and mineral world.

I’m a trans person who presents as visibly non-binary, for various personal reasons, and so the first gems I made were for myself.

I wanted a cute way to tell people what my pronouns were without constantly having to look for an opportunity to correct them. I’ve moved through my gender journey slowly, in part because I struggled for a long time with self-doubt and internalized transphobia, and in another part because I refused to let others define my gender for me by their expectations of how I should look or present. Caught between the two, I often found myself resenting people who misinterpreted me, while also berating myself for not being able to be who they wanted. So I figured – if they’re going to look at me anyway – why not give them something to look at? I made the gems to be colorful, eye-catching, and clear, so that anyone I talked to would have no choice but to see my pronouns. Out of a dark place I managed to make something that helped, just a little bit, to be who I was in public.

I just never imagined there would be so many other people who wanted me to make a gender gem for them, too! It’s a humbling experience to realize that you are not alone when others resonate with something you’ve created. As the handmade pendants are a labor of love, I branched out into enamel pins as a way to make them more affordable and accessible to more people. The response has been overwhelmingly wonderful. Even now I can’t believe how many pins have made their way around the world, and how many people are wearing them with pride, maybe just a little bit more comfortable to share who they are.

Here’s the thing: color, for me, is magic.

Color has an inexplicable ability to alter your mood. Color can lift you, shift you, change you; color carries deep symbolism and evokes fathomless layers of your subconscious. There are a lot of cultural rules about how color is allowed to be worn, and who is permitted to wear certain things, and what is considered good-looking for certain people; queer people historically break those boundaries precisely because we don’t blend in, and don’t want to. Queer people have always embraced their own magic and used color to show it. In a small way, I like to think that GENDER GEMS is adding to that tradition, by celebrating our pronouns as part of our gender expression, by not hiding them away.

See, I snuck in a little double meaning with the name: we are each completely unique; our genders are multifaceted and never precisely the same. We are all gender gems. You are a beautiful, perfectly individual gem, made already to be exactly who you are.

I’m beyond excited to bring my designs to Little Red Tarot, and so grateful to be part of this queer inclusive witchy artistic community. I hope my gems can bring a little magic to you as you walk through your own gender journey.


About Shawn

Shawn Faber is a native Californian, a consummate Virgo, and a distant relative of Andy Warhol. They make art and other things in San Diego, CA.

More work is available at gendergems.etsy.com or @gendergems on Instagram.

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6 comments

  1. Meg says:

    These are gorgeous! Such a beautiful idea. I can’t help thinking how great these would be to see at A-Camp in a few weeks 🙂

    • Shawn says:

      Thanks so much Meg, I’m so touched by your kind words! I offer quantity discounts for queer groups and causes – please get in touch by email if you want to talk more about it! xxx

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