During the pandemic lockdown, street graffiti was one of the few visual art mediums on display that changed frequently, if not daily.
It was inscrutable, often funny, and at times even poignant. Out of all those scrawls, the tag that wrote itself on Portland’s heart was undeniably Penis Girl—the seemingly pro-trans moniker that appeared everywhere from Interstate 205 to the Eastbank Esplanade, ranging in styles from marker on bus benches to big balloon lettering on the walls of train tunnels.
The artist behind Penis Girl is hesitant to reveal too much about themself, graffiti being illegal and all, other than to approve of the trans-rights interpretation of their tag.
“I fully embrace that, especially being nonbinary and gender nonconforming myself,” they said. “I’ve never actually been good at art, but graffiti became a good way for me to channel all the bad shit that I and everyone else have been dealing with—like quarantine, capitalism and the police state. Plus, it’s a super-fun way to pass the time.”
Though Penis Girl often travels with other graffiti artists, they quash rumors that there’s a Penis Girl collective. “There are random people that wrote it, but it’s just me,” they said. “I appreciate that people love the tag, but I am just a person with a pen. I’m not Banksy, and I promise I will straight-up stop tagging if people keep trying to treat me like I am.”