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Transgender Day of Visibility – in Comics

Cover of Boys Run the Riot

Today is the Transgender Day of Visibility, so it seemed like an appropriate time to round up some comics by and about transgender people. These are just for fun; if you want to know more about being transgender or being a good ally, check out The National Center for Transgender Equality.

Let’s start with a preview of an upcoming book: Kodansha Comics has posted the entire first chapter of Boys Run the Riot, a manga about a transgender teen who starts a fashion line with a classmate. The first volume will be out in May, and the series is rated 13+.

If you’re interested in works by transgender creators, check out Dana Simpson (Phoebe and Her Unicorn), Lilah Sturges (the Lumberjanes original graphic novels, Girl Haven), Sophie Campbell (Wet Moon), and Noelle Stevenson (Nimona). Not all their works center on the transgender experience, but all are well worth reading. It’s also worth noting that both Lumberjanes and The Backstagers have transgender characters, although they are not comics about being transgender.

Here are a few other graphic novels that center the transgender experience:

As the Crow Flies, by Melanie Gillman (Iron Circus, 2017): Charlie is at a Christian summer camp, despite her misgivings about being the only black, queer person there. As she struggles through a mountain hike, she builds a friendship with a fellow camper, Sydney, who is transgender. (Gr 6 Up)

Cover of The Bride Was a Boy

The Bride Was a Boy, by Chii (Seven Seas, 2018): This cheery, casually drawn comic details the author’s transition and marriage, with breaks for brief explanations of different aspects of being transgender as well as Japanese gender laws. (Gr 8 Up)

Girl Haven, by Lilah Sturges and Meaghan Carter (Oni Press, 2021): Ash takes a journey through a fantasy world created by his mother, who mysteriously disappeared a few years ago. Yet this strange land only admits females—so how did Ash get in there? And is he the chosen one? (Gr 4-8)

The Prince and the Dressmaker, by Jen Wang (First Second, 2018): This fairy-tale story stars a prince who likes to dress in women’s clothes and the dressmaker who clothes him. While he is not explicitly transgender, he feels more comfortable and almost becomes a different person when he is wearing a fashionable dress. (Gr 7 Up)

Stage Dreams, by Melanie Gillman (Lerner, 2019): A transgender soldier fleeing conscription into the Civil War teams up with a badass lady outlaw in this action-packed tale of the Old West. (Gr 5-8)

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Brigid Alverson About Brigid Alverson

Brigid Alverson, the editor of the Good Comics for Kids blog, has been reading comics since she was 4. She has an MFA in printmaking and has worked as a book editor and a newspaper reporter; now she is assistant to the mayor of Melrose, Massachusetts. In addition to editing GC4K, she writes about comics and graphic novels at MangaBlog, SLJTeen, Publishers Weekly Comics World, Comic Book Resources, MTV Geek, and Good E-Reader.com. Brigid is married to a physicist and has two daughters in college, which is why she writes so much. She was a judge for the 2012 Eisner Awards.

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