Transcending perspectives (includes photo essay)

Vince Cuadra is a 19-year-old trans student at Miami Dade College who, despite facing adversity from the current wave of hate and anti-trans legislation, chooses to confront it with joy and happiness. His vibrant and colorful art reflects his resilience and determination to live authentically and unapologetically. In this photo essay, we will explore Vince’s journey as a trans individual, the challenges he faces, and the role of his art in empowering him to navigate through difficult times.

As a trans person, Cuadra faces discrimination and harassment from society, but he refuses to let these negative experiences define him. Instead, he channels his energy into his artwork, creating colorful and expressive pieces that represent his unique perspective on life. His art is a testament to his strength and serves as a reminder that trans individuals are valuable members of society who deserve to be respected and celebrated.

This photo essay delves into the impact of the current wave of hate and anti-trans legislation targeting Cuadra and the trans community. Despite the challenges, Cuadra remains hopeful and determined to fight for his rights and the rights of others. His art is a powerful tool in raising awareness and promoting acceptance, and we hope that this photo essay will inspire others to join him in this important fight.

He developed his own style and form of gender expression. Rather than conforming he embraces his messy art style, long hair, and love for color.

With influences from his Miami upbringing such as the city’s bright colors, street art and kitschy tourist attractions, Cuadra has an art style like no other. 

“I developed an art style that is childlike, playful, colorful and versatile, which I’ve learned to translate through all kinds of media including but not limited to, illustration, photography, clothing, design, soft sculpture, video and ceramics.”- Vince Cuadra.

In a country where over 400 anti LGBTQ+ bills have been passed, Cuadra remains resilient and true to himself. 

Through connecting with my inner child, I learned to focus on what was fun and brought me joy.”- Vince Cuadra.

A master of his craft, Cuadra meticulously does his hair in extravagant and artistic styles. A practice he says he can now get done in 10 minutes after doing it for over 5 years. 

“My work represents the intersection of identities relationships, joy, humor and love for this world.” – Vince Cuadra.

Cuadra is currently and MDC student and works three jobs at a time to support himself. He currently lives by himself but is looking for a roommate to help with rent.

Cuadra wishes more people would understand that trans people are just people. That they all have different experiences and lives. 

“I feel like my art is an extension of myself and my artistic expression and gender expression go hand in hand.”- Vince Cuadra 

Cuadra is focused on what brings him joy, something that can be seen in his room that is full of life and color and all the things he loves.

Many transgender people struggle with mental health. In the past year suicide among trans people has risen by 51%. 

Transgender people are four times more likely to experience mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, stress, substance abuse, and eating disorders.

Cuadra has been on hormone replacement therapy for nearly 6 months, but the process took him years to be able to start testosterone shots. 

Healthcare denial and discrimination were the main drivers of trans suicide in 2021, with 98% of those who attempted suicide citing them as their main reasons.

Cuadra loves documenting his body’s physical changes since being on testosterone. Every month he takes a video of himself to see the changes in his voice. 

Cuadra is focused on what brings him joy, something that can be seen in his room that is full of life and color and all the things he loves.

Cuadra wants to focus on trans joy. Citing that is is one of the ways to fight back against anti trans legislation.

“Trans joy is resilience” – Vince Cuadra.

Milena Malaver is a senior majoring in Digital Journalism. She currently works as an editor for Caplin News and as social media manager for FIU's Society of Professional Journalist Chapter. Milena has an interest in covering local news.
Steban Rondon is a digital journalism student at Florida International University and a member of the Honors College. One of Steban's defining traits is his profound academic dedication, accompanied by his infectious charisma and his genuine interest in giving a platform to all stories. Steban is also well-known for his intellectual curiosity that extends to multiple domains, encompassing the arts, humanities, politics, philosophy, and the law.