I’ve been so focused on my own artistic practice that I don’t typically post outside content to my site. But since I want to live in a world where artists share each other’s work and give each other support and feedback, I would like to change that.
So today I’d like to talk to you about somebody who really should need no introduction, but who I pretty much never see discussed in the circles Life of Bria typically runs in. I’m talking about Quebecois trans cartoonist extraordinaire, Sophie Labelle.
Sophie’s ongoing series, Assigned Male Comics, focuses primarily on the struggles of a cast of different trans kids and their families. It is this focus of hers on trans children that makes her work truly stand out from the comics crowd. By framing these vitriolic debates we often have with the bigots in the context of kids, it shows in a shocking and powerful light the things people say to and about us, and the hypocrisy of those who neglect to stand up to them. Almost to say “If you wouldn’t say this to a kid, why do you think this is a good thing to say at all?”
But despite this multiplication effect of having such hate directed at a child, overall, her work has an empowering and positive tone. Characters’ family members who previously were unsupportive of their transition make incremental progress towards acceptance, and many comics are simple messages of trans empowerment. She’s also produced several colouring books and zines, again primarily directed at kids (but by no means limited to them) that serve in various ways as empowerment vehicles. Her most recent one being a kind of “toolbox” for trans peeps to use as a reference guide in the face of anti-trans bigotry and cis-heterosexism.
Sophie’s own life experiences of growing up trans in small-town Quebec strongly inform her work and give it a rich authenticity. Sophie can write about a trans kid facing discrimination in such a powerful way because she’s BEEN that kid. Furthermore, because she knows what trans kids want and need and feel, her comics can now serve as a kind of therapy to both kids and adults. Reading them feels like a warm hug in an oftentimes cold, uncaring world.
But because her work focuses primarily on children, she has been the target of one of the most vicious (and unwarranted) hate campaigns I have ever seen. I’ve only ever briefly interacted with Sophie online on a couple of occasions, but in every correspondence I’ve seen of her with her fans, she has been nothing but gracious, kind, and firm in her moral convictions. Just like the positive tone of her comics.
Honestly, a large portion of why I wanted to start with Sophie in my efforts to discuss other artists is that I wanted to do what I can to help her in the face of this haras
sment, and to set the record straight for any of you for whom this is the first time you’re hearing about her. It truly is a testament of how much work there is for us to do in this world if somebody like her can face hatred like that. Is this what we as trans people can look forward to? That if we ever rise to the top we can expect to be hammered back down by the relentless tides of bigotry and regressivism? That absolutely cannot stand, and I for one will not be neutral in this conflict.
So as a a fellow transgirl, cartoonist, and Canadian, Sophie certainly has my support in virtually all things. Everything I’ve seen of hers is nothing short of wonderful, and if you like what I do on here, you very likely will feel the same way.