Resilience Postcard Project

What does resilience mean to you? How do you experience it in your life?

We asked these questions of all 158 of the study participants during the first round of interviews conducted in the fall 2019-spring 2020. Participants shared many meaningful stories about how they defined, thought about, experienced, and lived their resilience as transgender and gender diverse people. We understand that “resilience” can be a complex term, particularly when considering impacts of colonialism for example. We wanted to learn more about how participants in our study viewed this term, as it applies to their own lives and experiences. And, as some participants described, sometimes the terms “thriving” and “resistance” provide better ways of thinking about our community’s experiences. Resilience and resistance can be communal, relational, or aspects of an individual’s experience that support their health and wellbeing in the face of challenges and stress. As we analyze these interviews, we are finding that participants used many beautiful and inspiring metaphors to describe their lived experiences. We partnered with a queer visual artist, Zeph Fishlyn who through their artistic skills and expertise, visually translated a few of these metaphors so that we could share the images via postcards.

Our vision is that these postcards can be used in a variety of ways, such as:

  • To provide support and inspiration to people in our communities
  • As a means to build connections with others, particularly given the importance of social support for resilience and resistance
  • For letter writing campaigns to oppose anti-trans legislation
  • For letter writing campaigns to support community leaders, advocates, and allies
  • As a way to educate others about the strengths of transgender and gender diverse people
  • Outreach initiatives
  • Something beautiful to hang on your wall!

“I have near limitless pockets of courage, I think. Like things don’t scare me like they used to at all.”

“When I think of resilience, I think of rocks. They’re hard. It’s not being worn down as – very quick – erosion is a slow process.”

“Visually I’m thinking of it, like being doused with a bucket of water and you just shake it off. It’s like, I am fine. So, it’s really being able to, you know, roll through the adversity and, and just like, just see the obstacles, figure out the course corrections I can make.”

“I’m like a fern who that could survive, like, you know, nuclear winter with its many sets of chromosomes. But like ferns have like don’t remember how many copies of each chromosome they have. And like so they even if like one of those gets mutated, they can rely on the other ones so that their cells don’t mutate when they split. So, yeah, if you ever have a nuclear irradiated area, ferns are most likely going to be the things that survive and are not affected by it. But that’s not a guarantee, of course.”

“I think resilience is the ability to weather the storms that come through and tap into past experiences where you’ve overcome challenges and remember that you got through it.”

Interested in getting a copy of the postcards?

We are sending small packets of the postcards to individuals who would like them. If you are interested, please enter your mailing address and how many cards you would like via the link below. We will be mailing these out at the end of each month for those who added their request in a given month, so look for your packet around then! At this time, we are only able to ship within the U.S.


As of 4/4/2023, we have sent 3,048 postcards to over 80 different people across 27 states + community orgs!

Artist Bio:

Illustration by Zeph Fishlyn –

Zeph Fishlyn (pronouns they/them) is a Canadian-born, SF Bay Area-based interdisciplinary artist, educator, and cultural organizer. Zeph’s participatory projects, drawings, objects and interventions cultivate social and ideological mutations in urgent times.

Zeph is a serial collaborator with groups taking creative action on economic crisis, climate change and LGBTQ liberation— including the Beehive Design Collective, Greenpeace, the San Francisco Anti-Displacement Coalition, the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project, Heart of the City Collective, the PDX Trans Housing Coalition, and the Center for Artistic Activism. They played key roles in creating and maintaining collective spaces for artists and activists, including Lobot Gallery, a live/work/event space, and the 2027 Mutual Aid Society, a resident-run affordable housing coop.

 Zeph’s work and projects have appeared at Manifesta, MassArt, SOMArts, American University Museum, Five Oaks Museum, the Village Building Convergence, a freeway underpass, an off-duty train tunnel, and a variety of smaller venues and public spaces around the US. They have been supported by Banff Centre for the Arts, Pro-Arts Commons, ReImagining Value Action Lab, SF Queer Cultural Center, Provisions Library, Ponderosa Stolzenhagen, and Blue Mountain Center.

 Zeph holds an MFA in Art and Social Practice from Portland State University.  

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