About

About me

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I’m Katja Tetzlaff (they/them/theirs), a queer Southerner. As a freelance medical illustrator, I focus on the representation of diversity among transgender and intersex people and sex anatomy– which is necessary in a field that continues to dangerously promote the monolithic white, tall/thin, able-bodied, cisgender male as the “standard human.”  Before drawing genitals for a living, I completed a BS in Molecular Biology before finishing the Biomedical Visualization MS program at UIC. My drive to represent transgender and intersex people came from my graduate research on the lack of medical illustrations depicting the physical changes resulting from hormones and surgery. This work expanded into illustrating other gender-expression related health concerns (tucking, binding, puberty blockers, fillers, PrEP, etc.) As happens, my research was really “me-search” and in learning more about trans and intersex people, I came to find out more about myself, such as being diagnosed with PCOS and coming out as a non-bonary/genderqueer person.

About the work

For almost 6 years, I presented fully-illustrated lectures to health sciences and medical students about transgender, intersex, and non-binary health to improve both cultural and clinical education. Similar presentations were adapted or created for specific hospital units such as Midwifery, Family Medicine, OB/GYN, In-Patient Psychiatry, Patient Experiences Office, etc. In 2017, I developed and piloted a “flipped classroom” 300-level undergraduate course on Human Sexuality and Health Sciences to provide relevant perspectives on gender, sex, and sexuality in the health sciences and across the lifespan. I have been invited to high schools, colleges, hospitals, professional conferences, and nonprofits to lecture on a variety of related topics, including sex development, bioethics, history of transgender and intersex medicine, and normativity in healthcare imagery

Specific examples of my work in print can be found in “Trauma, Resilience, and Health Promotion in LGBT Patients: What Every Healthcare Provider Should Know,” “Living Out Loud: An Introduction to LGBTQ History, Society, and Culture,” “The Singing Teacher’s Guide to Transgender Voices,” “The Gender Quest Workbook: A Guide for Teens and Young Adults Exploring Gender Identity,” and the Illinois Caucus for Adolescent Health (ICAH)’s peer-led Youth Education Workshops about gender, sex, and sexuality.

Most of what I learned (and more importantly, unlearned) did not come from my overpriced, outdated, overrated graduate program. It came from learning from and working with experts on medical racism, sexism, trans- and intersexphobia, ableism, etc. People whose expertise comes not from esoteric academia but lived experience. I continuously learn from trans and intersex activists, queer sex educators, political creatives, writers/storytellers, historians, filmmakers, documentarians, etc. There are too many influences to name but some key people include Pigeon Pagonis, Sean Saifa Wall, Georgiann Davis, Raquel Willis, Susan Stryker, Leslia Feinberg, Alok V Menon, Ericka Hart, Rachel Cargle, Sassy Latte, Tourmaline, Mia Mingus, and Eli Erlick. I highly encourage you to check out their work and pay for the education. 

Pro-bono work aside, most of the professional work I’ve done for the last 6 years has been unpaid. One reason is that I undervalue myself. Another is plagiarism and theft by other medical illustrators, organizations, educators, and hospitals. Another is that medical professionals and institutions are generally unwilling to compensate me for this important education because I love what I do and it helps people so it follows that I should do it for free; quite a confusing sentiment from people who are allegedly part of healthcare to “help people” but also make 6-figures. The biggest reason, however, is that this work needs to be accessible to all so I don’t obscure it with watermarks or go after people who profit from these images without giving me credit or compensation. All of this is to say that if you have learned from this work, please feel free to Venmo me @KTetz or PayPal at Katja.Tetz@gmail.com.

About working with me

If you would like to collaborate on a project, commission medical illustrations, or request a guest lecture, please email me at katja.tetz@gmail.com.