Katja Tetzlaff (pronouns: they/them/theirs) is a Southern non-binary queer who cuts their own hair, grows their own food, and pokes their own tattoos. As a freelance medical illustrator, they focus on diverse representation — which is necessary in a field that continues to dangerously promote the monolithic white, tall/thin, able-bodied, cisgender male as the “standard human” of medicine. Before drawing genitals for a living, Katja completed their BS in Molecular Biology with minors in Studio Art and Chemistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham and worked on their portfolio for a year before moving to Chicago to complete the Biomedical Visualization MS program at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Their drive to represent transgender and intersex people (and not just their anatomy) came from their research on the lack of medical illustrations about the physical changes the body undergoes over several years due to hormones. Their work expanded into illustrating both hormone therapy and gender confirming surgeries as well as other gender-expression related health concerns (tucking, binding, fillers, etc.) as the National Center for Transgender Excellence 2015 United States Transgender Survey showed that about 50% of trans people have to teach their own doctor about trans-related care. As happens, their research was really “me-search” and in learning more about trans and intersex people, they came to find out more about themselves, such as being a masculine-leaning genderqueer person and the effects of having high testosterone due to Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS.)
Beginning as part of their graduate research project, Katja presented fully-illustrated lectures to medical students in the United States’ largest medical school about transgender, intersex, and non-binary health including medical transitioning (hormones and surgeries) and patient-provider interactions to improve cultural and clinical education. Similar presentations were adapted or created to provide continuing medical education for specific hospital units such as Midwifery, Family Medicine, OB/GYN, Patient Experiences Office, etc. In 2017, Katja 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. They have been invited to colleges and non-profits to lecture on a variety of related topics, including bioethics, history of medicine, law, and their favorite subject, normativity in healthcare imagery.