Tobi Hill-Meyer

Erotic Trans Embroidery

Filed By Tobi Hill-Meyer | March 30, 2009 11:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: cross stitch, trans history, video games

Some readers might remember I had promised a follow up to my Porn For Education post that would go into the details of my more recent work in video. With everything going on this week, I've had to put it off, and a couple of submission deadlines next week might delay me even further.

In the meantime, I thought I'd share with you something fun. You may have wondered at some point, what activist pornographers do in their free time. This one at least, does embroidery -- Although only one of the two completed projects I'm sharing here are erotic, I'm going to warn that these images may not be safe for work.

The first design I completed was a cross stitch pixel for pixel recreation of Poison from Final Fight. She originally appeared in 1989 and was confirmed by the developers last year as trans, making her the first human trans video game character. The honorably distinction of the first trans video game character of any species goes to Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2 (1988).

(Note: Click on any of the images in order to see a more detailed version, except for this first image which is already at maximum resolution)

I initially used this image to start with. I liked that it was an older image because it had a lower resolution and fewer colors. I think it has maybe 30 or so distinct colors, but a few of them are similar enough that I combined them so I only had 20 colors to work with. Not to mention that in the ensuing decade she has been incredibly sexualized and given some rather unrealistic proportions. Granted, she was sexualized from the beginning, but this image seemed to be much more about her than about adolescent-minded boys thinking "OMG hot"


Picking out the colors was harder than I had thought, and for a while I was worried that I had chosen too strongly contrasting skin tones. But with the finished results, I think it turned out rather well, simply appearing as a part of the glare of being under harsh lighting. Another interesting side effect is that I believe I made her skin tone a lot darker than it was originally intended to be. With the red hair, brown skin, a collar and hat similar to what I have worn before, I've had some folks guess that it was supposed to be a self-portrait.


After finishing it, I put it onto the bag I got from Creating Change, which you might have seen me with if you caught me at Creating Change. Although I didn't mind the Task force logo, I was happy that this end result nicely obscured the corporate logo that had been there.

Upon returning from Creating Change, I started my next project. I'm quite proud, this time, of the design. I was working from a sketch my parnter made for me, modeled after another image I came across -- but translating the design from that sketch into a grid type format and figuring out how to represent things like hair with embroidery floss was a challenge. You'd think that hair and thread would have a lot in common, but it was quite a challenge. In fact, I think the hair is the part I like the best, having played with a different way of representing hair with each of the three people. Take a look at both the the original sketch and the finished product.



Another fun element to this project was the symbolism of the colors. I was trying to figure out what colors to use for each figure and decided I wanted to go with primary colors for each figure's outline and secondary colors for each figure's hair. In simply thinking of good color combinations, I realized the usefulness of a color wheel. In this case, though, it is as if the colors are mixing as the figures are. The blue person is going down on the red person and has her hair turned purple. The red person is going down on the yellow person and her hair is turned orange. The yellow person is going down on the blue person and her hair turns green.

It represents how those we engage with leave a mark on us -- I think. It has a lot of other meaning as well, but this is one of those things that pops out of my sub-consciousness without fully knowing all the meaning of it. I'm sure I'll figure it out eventually.

Now I'm finishing up an embroidery project which is simply text. I'm actually just fillign in the background on that one, so there's work left to be done but it's rather boring. In the meantime, I'll also be thinking about what my next project will be.

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Wow, she is incredibly detailed, and looks really great on the bag. I really think that your version looks almost identical to the example you took her from. Beautiful.

I like your triad piece as well, and the meaning you give to it. It's very thought provoking.

OMG! I am trying to think of a way to properly convey my amazement. These are seriously impressive, like whoa.

I've wanted to get into embroidery for a while now -- mostly because I want to try embroidering my own hanky-code flags. And I've been waiting to find someone else who is into it because I don't learn very well from internet instructions, but now I'm inspired to just get started anyway and fake it til I make it.

Julien A. Sharp Julien A. Sharp | March 31, 2009 12:05 AM

luv the symbolism behind the colors. anywayz, always wished i could do some crafty things. i plan to eventually relearn how to sew.

Virginia June | April 5, 2009 8:46 AM

Outstanding work, both pieces work well. Design and elements! Kudos!