For this project we were tasked with creating a piece of work for one of a large selection of briefs from the Global Campus Studio brief, to RSA briefs, to the one I decided on, which was Creative Conscience’s Mental Health Brief. My group formed naturally, each of us having either a personal understanding to, or deep interest in the topic of ‘gender dysphoria’. My group consisted of myself, Heva Fagnano, Ievgeniia Poroshenko and Zing Zeng.
We wanted to use our creativity to both inform, and comfort sufferers. Through our project we aim to bring more understanding to what gender dysphoria is, and what it can feel like, while also showing those who already struggle with gender dysphoria that they aren’t alone, and many other people struggle with it as well.
We began with a variety of ideas, from depicting a strong emotional experience, to creating something more abstract. We thought about what we wanted it to feel like, look like, and invoke in the audience. After some discussion, and solo work, we came together with four stories we were interested in developing.
We decided a full animation would be too difficult to make in the period of time we had, so settled on the idea of creating a visual novel, with possibilities of small animations within it. Through discussions, though, we realised four stories would be too much to effectively depict, so we worked on deciding on a single story–possibly merging all of our story ideas into one.
What is gender dysphoria?
Gender dysphoria is a term that describes a sense of unease that a person may have because of a mismatch between their biological sex and their gender identity. (Gender dysphoria, nhs.uk, 2021)
What is gender identity?
Gender identity refers to our sense of who we are and how we see and describe ourselves. But some people feel their gender identity is different from their biological sex. (Gender dysphoria, nhs.uk, 2021)
How does gender dysphoria affect peoples lives?
Gender dysphoria can cause a person to pull away from friends and family, can make it difficult to go out in public or meet new people, and can cause a person to neglect themselves and their health and wellbeing.
How is gender dysphoria diagnosed & treated?
It is diagnosed by a psychiatrist who will evaluate and confirm incongruence of gender identity and sex assigned at birth, history and development of dysphoric feelings, impact on mental health and what support is given by friends, family and peers.
Treatment options might include changes in gender expression and role, hormone therapy, surgery, and behavioral therapy. (Gender dysphoria – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic, 2021)
Idea Development & Moodboards
While deciding on what our final story idea would be, a few of us made moodboards to get our ideas, visually, down along with mood and colour ideas. My moodboard focused mainly on visual representations of gender dysphoria (as opposed to the emotional representation that Heva explored in her moodboard).
After creating moodboards we each made an image (or chose one from our initial sketch ideas) to represent our story. Then, we were able to look at each of our ideas and styles, merge them together, and produce an amalgamation of all of our ideas. We eventually decided to settle on a slightly altered version of my story idea.
“Trans boy, Blue, tries his hardest to fit in with the girls around him, but every time he does the feeling of bugs crawling under his skin worsens, until one day he finds a cure to his discomfort.”
When deciding on what visual route we were going to go my group decided, based on my characters design, that we would stick to a similar style to the one I used when creating my concept image for my story idea. However, for colouring we deciding to go with a style similar to that of Zing’s, as we thought her colour choices were nice, and hoped to create something very unique and eye-catching through the blend of my art style with Zing’s colouring.
With that decided Heva produced a storyboard of the beginning of the story in the style we decided on, to give us an idea of how it would look. At this point we decided to allocate roles to each group member to organise ourselves better. I was chosen to lead the team as a ‘Producer’, alongside doing main character lineart. Gin was chosen to do side character lineart, Zing to do colouring, and Heva to do sound and animation.