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In the age of so­cial me­dia, you don’t even need to leave your home to find con­nec­tions or feel like you are not alone. For me, one such con­nec­tion, who has con­sis­tently made me feel like I was a part of some­thing greater, is So­phie La­belle, the cre­ator of “As­signed Male Comics.” So­phie is from Mon­treal, Canada, and since 2014, her comic strip char­ac­ters, such as Ste­phie, Ciel and Frankie, to name a few, have given her a well de­served rock­star sta­tus in the LGBTQ+ com­mu­nity. In her own words, her mis­sion is about “re­fram­ing transness into some­thing pos­i­tive and em­pow­er­ing.”

As a trans­gen­der per­son, I love how she tells our story, shows how we feel and how we cope with those feel­ings. She gives voice to our hopes, dreams, night­mares, fears and frus­tra­tions. For those who think that trans­gen­der, non- bi­nary and in­ter­sex peo­ple are “cul­tur­ally in­con­ve­nient,” she gives us a face and hu­man­izes our strug­gles. It is so im­por­tant to give us a voice and be heard, as she said, “Most news ar­ti­cles I read about trans peo­ple all sound like cis peo­ple just dis­cov­ered we ex­ist.”

So­phie has been on the re­ceiv­ing end of ter­ri­fy­ing death threats through­out her ca­reer, but there was one par­tic­u­larly chill­ing oc­cur­rence in 2017, when a hate group tar­geted her in a spe­cific, more or­ga­nized way than usual. They sent her thou­sands of death threats over a pe­riod of just a few days, hacked her web­site and posted her ad­dress on­line. So­phie and her room­mate were forced to move for their safety. She said, “I had a choice to ei­ther hide or write more. I wrote more be­cause it pissed them off so much!”

I reached out to So­phie La­belle ear­lier this sum­mer to come and present a talk at the New Haven Pride Cen­ter. I was more than a lit­tle ner­vous to do so, yet, with the lo­gis­ti­cal sup­port from Pa­trick Dunn, the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, I ended up mod­er­at­ing the event. Meet­ing So­phie was akin to bump­ing into an old friend, pick­ing up a con­ver­sa­tion where none left off. She is charis­matic, en­gag­ing and funny. All of these per­son­al­ity traits shine through in her comics, as do her per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ences of bi­ases that trans- peo­ple face on a daily ba­sis.

The ages of Ste­phie and the gang in So­phie’s comics are per­fect. At 12- 13 years old, they talk about their transness without the dis­trac­tion of hor­mones, block­ers and surg­eries. All they want is love, ac­cep­tance for who they are and to be treated like any other child.

At the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want for our chil­dren?

You can find So­phie’s books at https:// www. etsy. com/ shop/ as­signed­male and fol­low her char­ac­ters in new comic strips every Mon­day/ Wed­nes­day/ Fri­day at https:// www. face­book. com/ as­signed­male

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