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