This 19-year-old deaf, transgender artist will teach you a lesson on representation

(Photo: MaryV Benoit; artwork: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)
(Photo: MaryV Benoit; artwork: Quinn Lemmers for Yahoo Lifestyle)

Chella Man’s motto, “be your own representation,” hits close to home for so many people who grew up without diverse role models. His experience as a Chinese, Jewish, deaf, trans person is unlike any other and informs his work as an artist, writer, speaker, student, and model. Now, documenting his transition on social media, he shares every aspect of his emotional and physical journey, as well as the evolution of his relationship and his art. Garnering a combined 209,000 followers on Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter, Chella is his own representation, but he serves as a role model for so many others too.

Name: Chella Goldberg Man

Age: 19

Favorite app: Instagram

What he does: The umbrella term I use is “artist.” This encompasses my current studies as a full-time student in virtual reality programming, painting/drawing and selling my work, and being a signed model on the side.

Three words he’d use to define Gen Z: Passionate. Empathetic. Electric.

What representation means to him: To me, it enables you to feel part of a community. Representation permits you to know there are others in the world with similar experiences to you due to your common identity. It has to power to diminish the negative aspects of solitude.

My face at 19. MaryV’s face at 20. 2018. I hope our story lives long.

A post shared by Chella Man (@chellaman) on May 5, 2018 at 3:35pm PDT

What he wishes older people understood about him: My identity is valid, although most of it falls on a spectrum between standard categories.

His greatest accomplishment (so far): Being completely honest with myself and all others around me.

What he’ll be doing 10 years from now: Ideally, I would love to be continuously creating art, giving speeches on life as a queer, disabled person of color, and opening others’ minds to the fact that identities lie on a continuum.

What inspires him: Seeing the ambition and passion in queer, disabled, young artists today. It inspires me to continue my path and encourage them to continue theirs.

How he thinks Gen Z will change the world: Perspectives. With today’s technology, we are able to see and hear others from all over the world. This exposure combined with open dialogue will encourage us to make empathetic decisions based on all that we take in online and offline.