You don't have to look far on this site to realise that the creator is a trans women. And while I feel that such is not the only thing to define myself, it has played an important part in my life. If one is a an trans artist of any sort, how is it possible to not include influences from one's personal life in one's work? Now there are different strategies that an artist can pursue in relation to this.
One is to ignore/repress that fact, and to write/draw stories that don't reference trans issues in any way. That's reasonable if trans issues inclusion would be out of place and inappropriate. Sad Heart's Shadow from the Future Imperfect series may/may not have queer or trans characters in it but they're not obvious. It's not that there aren't any, but that this aspect of their lives isn't relevant.
Another strategy is to have stories where the main character(s) are trans in some way or other. A good example of this is Venus Ascending where the main character, Zoe, is a trans teenager. In my own work, this is most obvious in my Hypergraphia strips, which are (mostly) autobiographical in nature. The other strips I do (like and Tales of the Galli, which will start soon) feature mostly trans and/or strong women characters, because that's relevant to the strip.
A third strategy is to include trans (and queer) characters and story lines as a incidental part of the strip - that a character is trans, just like they're middle aged, have green hair, or are related to the main character's sidekick. In general you don't see too much of that in web comics, as generally when a trans / queer character gets introduced into a strip that's not mainly about trans / queer stuff, a big fuss gets made of it. There are a couple of characters who "just happen" to be trans in some of my strips, as in Thud and Blunder (when I finally get around to drawing the second and third stories) and Bureau of Serendipity (coming eventually). You'll have to wait and see who they are.
A final strategy to to talk and draw about these things in a theoretical manner. I already do this in my Queer Stuff comics (available online at my Queer Stuff web site).
The above analysis might seem like an awful effort to make a point. Why is this important?
The thing is, that being a trans person in a world which has many conflicting views about just what that means, isn't always the easiest thing. There's a lot of 'misinformation' out there about trans issues and in many places being trans is either openly or covertly discriminated against and repressed. Such expressions of 'transphobia' include: internal denial; open assault and battery; and even murder.
I think that some of this goes back to many non-trans folk having either no (apparent) contact with trans people, or decent information on trans issues. Like the concept of the "Witch" in the Reformation, if you don't have any real knowledge then "trans" becomes a great blank slate on which to write your expectations, biases and fears. And when that happens, people start reacting to those expectations, biases and fears, instead of the real people that trans folk are.
The fear of discrimination, assault and other repressions is what drives "passing" - the process of not drawing attention to one's trans status. See my extended essay on this titled The Bottom Line for examples. Now admittedly that concept is going to vary between trans person to trans person. Some people think that after reassignment surgery(s) that they're no longer 'trans', but solely the gender they have affirmed by that action. While this may be a valid viewpoint, it denies a personal history which for non-trans people might seem at odds with their current status.
And I don't think that we, as trans folk, should be forced to deny our pasts. We are part of humanity, and a part that occurs over all cultures in one form or another. We are not "mistakes", not "ill", not "evil" people. We are trans in one form or another.
This is why it's important that stories by and about us are told. If someone can read about a minority or issue that they previous were unaware of, or misunderstood, then maybe they'll be less likely to project all their misconceptions on us. I'm passionate believer, as both a trans person, and artist, that web comics featuring trans characters and issues make a difference. I wrote an article about Trans Web Comics explaining why. and I hope you'll read it.
Anyway, that's why I mention this, why I did A Trans Tarot Deck, and why I do these web comics.
- ...it's not about being "good" or not (though I always try to do
the best I can), but about doing it at all;
- ...by acknowledging my trans status, I can help show others
that trans people
can be artistic, can contribute to discourse, and have something to say;
- ...and in featuring trans characters and storylines
(where appropriate) I can
help show that trans characters are just as valid as any other character;
- ...and maybe, by adding my own vision to others of like
kind, we can
inspire others to realise their own visions.
- ...if you aren't open about your own trans status as an artist;
- ...and you don't have trans characters in some of your stories
- ...then maybe your readers won't ever know about those issues,
or even consider doing their own.