After the death of Leelah Alcorn this past month, many people on the internet have been infuriated, and rightfully so, at her treatment at the hands of her parents. Said parents refuse to acknowledge their daughter’s gender and name, and even insist that while they loved their child “unconditionally”, they couldn’t support her transgender identity “religiously”. It’s complete bullshit, and people are calling for Leelah’s parents to be prosecuted and for the conversion therapy groups that she was sent to to be outlawed through the U.S. I strongly suggest you check those links out.
Unfortunately, many people don’t know very much about transgender issues, and transgender visibility is very low in our popular media, though it’s been getting a little bit better in recent years. Many only know what the world transgender means, if that, and so may find it hard to empathize with transgender people and better understand transgender issues. Fortunately, the internet has many resources to help out. Enter today’s web crush: What’s Normal Anyway?
What’s Normal Anyway? is a webcomic that takes a humorous and informative look at what it’s like to be transgender. We follow Mel, born Melissa, as he comes out to his parents, starts the transitioning process, goes to a trans support group and meets a boyfriend. The creator, Morgan Boecher, also gave us a bit of a prequel that focused on Mel’s early high school years and the troubles he had with his peer group of the time. All in all, it’s a great webcomic with lots of diversity—Mel’s roommate and best friend, Leena, is Black and queer; Diego, from the trans support group, is Latino, and Mel’s eventual boyfriend Hector is half Japanese, half Brazilian. Together Boecher shows that one isn’t transgender or queer or non-white; none of those are mutually exclusive.
In making such an easily-accessible webcomic, Boecher has created a great resource for transgender and cisgender readers alike. As he says in his completed Kickstarter:
Through this comic, I aim to add a bit of silliness to the often heavyhearted discourse on the trans experience, and to the world in general.
Trans readers can empathize with and laugh with Mel as he goes through his life; cis readers can learn about what being transgender is like and use that knowledge to be better allies in the brickspace world.
Although What’s Normal Anyway? is already over, the aforementioned Kickstarter meant that Boecher was able to compile and publish a book version of his webcomic, which you can buy here. You can also read the whole webcomic online at his site. And, if you’re interested in donating to some trans charities in Leelah Alcorn’s name, here is a brief list; you should also check out this essay and list of fundraisers specifically for trans women of color.