Thursday, October 5, 2017

First Year Out: A Transition Story by Sabrina Symington (#transgender)

Frank and often painful First Year Out: A Transition Story is a graphic novel like no other. Following Lily's journey from laser hair removal right through gender reassignment surgery, it deals with a variety of topics, including coming out, self-identity, family acceptance, voice training, hormones, dating, and more.

In tracing this year of Lily's life, Sabrina Symington manages to talk openly and honestly about transgender issues without coming across as preachy or heavy-handed. Everything she documents is in the context of a young woman's journey, and Lily is so likeable, and so easy to relate to, that we care about this issues as much for her as we do ourselves.

I loved how the artwork pulls no punches - in fact, the first time we see Lily, the image we are presented with is that of a woman horrified by her own facial hair. The need to let it grow between laser treatments is a very real part of the process, but it is softened by the understanding of a cisgender laser technician who admits to undergoing the same treatments. Similarly, while we see what kind of a physical and emotional transformation she undergoes with the addition of makeup and a wig, we also see how the simple act of removing that wig can change what others see in her.

As for the story, I loved how Lily surrounded herself with people who share some element of her experience, even if it is not always in the exact same context. From her cisgender best friend, to the pair of transsexual mentors who transitioned later in life, to the non-binary/genderqueer new friend who walks a similar path, Lily has a strong support system that understands and appreciates what she is going through. Many of their conversations are a bit heavy for the average reader, getting deep into gender politics and the transgender experience, but are necessary to fully appreciating Lily's journey.

Beautifully drawn, well-told, and full of enough joys to overcome the sorrows, First Year Out: A Transition Story is a wonderful read for anyone questioning their own gender, as well as for everyone who loves them.

Sabrina Symington is a transgender graphic novelist, creator of Life of Bria, head illustrator of Zombie Robot Comics, and a huge fan of dinosaurs. She creates webcomics that address current issues affecting the Transgender Community with the goal of combating hypocrisy and describing, in detail, why the arguments frequently employed against the rights of transgender individuals are horsesh*t.

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