Image by Morgan Boecher from http://whatsnormalanyway.net/
While there are an increasing number of awesome books written by Trans authors (Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation and Wanting in Arabic being my current favorites), it is often hard to access these books without shelling out the money to buy them online. Even here at the Out on the Shelves Library, our trans section is often too small to provide patrons with the information they seek.
Fortunately, there is a strong online community of trans authors producing some amazing art. My current personal favourites are the trans webcomics:
What’s Normal Anyway
What’s Normal Anyway is a touching and hilarious look at the life of the fictional trans-male character Mel. I find Mel really compelling because he is continually grappling with what it means to be a man who does not fit macho male stereotypes. The author of the comic, Morgan Boecher, artfully raises profound questions about gender through the medium of short and extremely accessible comics. While I recommend this webcomic to everyone no matter their gender identity, it may be particularly useful for FTMs who are transitioning. This is in part because the comic does not shy away from the difficulties some trans-men face such as the pain involved in breast-binding, being a man who gets a period, and the complexities of online dating as someone who does not fit neatly into categories. Another interesting aspect of this comic is that the author takes suggestion from fans. Thus, the the main character Mel combines the experiences of a community of trans-men.
Rooster Tails is an autobiographical webcomic following the lives of a trans couple from New Zealand. Much like What’s Normal Anyway, this comic grapples with what it means to be a white man who is also a feminist and anti-oppression activist. While both characters use male pronouns, they play a lot with gender and genderqueerness. They show that transition can mean many different things and that there isn’t one “right” way to be trans-man. Perhaps my favourite aspect of the comic is the way it portrays the bodies of trans-men in a really positive, sweet, and loving way. The writers are also fat-positive and celebrate fat-queerness through some very cute/sexy images. I really love the intimacy portrayed throughout the comic. In fact, I think it is one of the best expressions of the pleasures of a long term relationship I have ever read (queer or straight).
Trans Girl Diaries
If you are looking for something darker and more angesty, then you may like the trans girl diaries. I find this comic continually challenging as its often violent images portray a darker look at being trans and facing hate from society, the trans community, and oneself. I think this comic is important because the author is putting a lot of really raw emotions into her work that may resonate with many trans-people facing external and internal forms of oppression. However, this comic may trigger some readers and is definitely not for everyone.
This comic is the only trans web-comic I’ve read so far that is specifically written for kids! It is really awesome to see portrayals of kids who are trans, trans-activists and willing to stand up to bullies. I definitely recommend it for youth interested in challenging gender binaries.
For an interview with trans web artists, you can listen to this interview at The Webcast Beacon at: