Oh God. I’ve actually found it the worst comic on the internet. This is literally the personification of everything that is wrong with the overzealous left on Tumblr. A comic worse than Sonichu. Less articulate than My Immortal.
A comic is so polarizing, so ranty, it even isolates other trans people and feminists. A comic that is so far left, that when right wing trolls do edits of it,half the time I have difficulty telling which ones are real and which ones are parodies. The only key difference is that the parodies are at least funny. Which is a problem.
Attempts to help like this, done horrendously, to talk about important issues just give trolls ammunition and undermine attempts at improving representation. Honestly, if someone was a centrist, naive and heard endless stories about how bad ‘SJWs’ were and then saw a few of these strips, I can see them easily siding with them. Hell, I actually cheered on the bigot strawmen in half these comics.
BASIC SUMMARY AND STORYTELLING
This strip takes the form of a ‘gag a day’ strip, except without a gag, or humour. Because who needs humour? Instead, we get a heavy handed ham fisted gender studies lecture which usually involves Stephie commiserating with her
echo chamber I mean, band of sycophants friends about some issue, or else berating some unwitting passer by who accidentally stepped on a land mine.
I mean, we read comics to be entertained. No one ever liked PSAs. Even as kids, no one wanted to watch this:
Even when there is a legitimate punchline, it’s often muddied by a bizarre set up:
Wait, so you DON’T want people to research trans issues and be a good ally? What’s your point?? Normally, when this is done, it’s done to parody the weird questions that LGBT people are asked, in attempt to show how demeaning/ ridiculous they are. For example:
‘When did you decide to be straight?’
‘Straight clubs have the BEEESSSST music. Oooooh, I have a straight friend- nothing in common except their straight- you wanna go out?’
But trans issues are more complex than being cis. And they definately need support in this climate. So it doesn’t work. And her mum asked her a completely innocuous question- what are you spending your money on? Why the sarcasm? Is it because If Stephie said ‘the latest Ms Marvel comic’, Stephie might actually have had an interest and conversation that doesn’t center around gender?
As for It sometimes has mini arcs, but there isn’t much in the way of continuity. No characters really develop, and I still have no idea what personality Stephie’s supposed to have… I know she’s angry, irrational, judgmental and self absorbed, but I don’t know what personality the creator intended her to have.
Which brings me onto the biggest problem:
THIS AUTHOR HAS NO INTEREST IN WRITING A CHARACTER
Even if this comic is called ‘Assigned Male- the incredible adventures of Stephie who just happens to be transgendered’, don’t be fooled. There is nothing ‘just happens’ about it. Stephie is trans. I don’t really know anything about her goals, hobbies, or much about her except that she speaks like a gender studies student. Seriously. The author even admits Stephie has no other interests.
Lampshading your failure to write an actual character does not fix the problem. Also, there are so many great female lead comics like Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Batwoman, Rat Queens and Ms Marvel… and you’re just going to dismiss the whole medium? When there’s a huge push at the moment to make the medium more inclusive? Hell, we saw another character reading a lumberjanes comic at one point- so the author must know this. And as for videogames, what about Child of Light or Undertale- or freaking Tetris or Candy crush?Or Indie games? Also, football loses value if cis men get anything from it? WTF?
There is one or two token examples of Stephie having a hobby or two– but they were done in a ham fisted ‘tell’ way, is never organically incorporated in the story telling such as say, Lisa Simpson and her sax, or the blokes from Friends and their love of football.
For another example of Sophie’s lack of irony, see this:
What’s wrong with this panel? This is a reasonable point for every day trans people to make. But in the context of this comic there are three things:
a) Trans and gender issues are the ONLY thing Stephie can talk about.
b) She’s in a webcomic about a transperson’s life- ie. A PIECE OF MEDIA ABOUT TRANS LIVES FOR PUBLIC CONSUMPTION
c) IF YOU DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT, WHY DID YOU AGREE TO THIS INTERVIEW?
STEPHIE AND HER SOCK PUPPETS ARE TERRIBLE PEOPLE
One thing to note, Stephie is supposed to be 11. She is 11 and she talks like This . Here’s more examples of
Dick Grayson, age 12 speaks Stephie and her flunkies talk like:
11 years old- ‘so you want to compensate for your insecurity regarding your masculinity and parenting skills by denying my identity‘ – NOT EVEN 20 YEAR OLDS TALK LIKE THIS
11 years old– ‘And spend the summer not getting any sleep because I’ll be so anxious performing a gender I don’t have.’
I understand that some kids are precocious, and the comic even tried to imply this in an earlier comic. But the reason Lisa worked in the Simpsons was because she was the only character like this, and it contrasted with the straight man ie. the rest of Springfield. She even suffered iscolation from her peers due to her intellect.
This doesn’t work here because half the characters talk like this- even the strawmen. she’s literally like the raging feminists you find on campus that even the other feminists run a mile whenever they see them on the horizon.
Speaking of angry feminists, Oh God, the overwhelming problem with this story is how reprehensible the characters are and how aggressively they spout their views. Lets begin with the first ever comic.
Stephie is sick and Stephie’s mum takes her to the hospital. The receptionist notices that inspite of seeing a little girl, there’s a boys name on the card and she asks Stephie’s
militant butch lesbian stereotype mum if there’s a mistake. Her mum, being a responsible adult, explains that Stephie identifies as female in a calm and rational manner…
Her mum rages at the poor unsuspecting person trying to do their job.
Then, it’s Stephie’s turn. Stephie is angry with her mum. Is it because her mum’s being an irrational rage-aholic? No, it’s because she isn’t doing militant trans activism right. Even though her mum is sticking up for her and using language that mainstream activists use to describe being transgender, she is the real monster for getting it wrong. she throws a complete fit about it. Because apparently Stephie doesn’t think she wasn’t born in the wrong body- she doesn’t have gender dysphoria in spite of having it in other panels when convenient to the plot. No. This is a girl’s body. This is her girl’s penis! Even though she takes hormones and shows signs of dysphoria in some comics and then claims not to have it in others.
HOW DARE SHE NOT MAGICALLY KNOW THAT STEPHIE’S EXACT WAY SHE VIEWS HER IDENTITY?!
Does her mum punish her for being a little shit? Of course not, Stephie can do no wrong and her mum bends and apologises. But the worst thing is her kid is sick and she leaves to hospital. She is literally going to let her kid be dangerously ill because some medical professional didn’t understand the situation at the counter and she couldn’t control her own kid. What a
child abuser great parent.
HOW MILITANT THEY ALL ARE
Stephie and her crew are absolutely horrendous to everyone around them. Even though trans people suffer from discrimination, homelessness and violence at alarming rates, you know what kind of issues this comic decides the tackle? Getting the wrong happy meal!
Ah, this isn’t the first time I’ve seen non binary gender bending characters gain superpowers. But remember when Sailor Uranus used her powers to protect innocent people rather than assaulting overworked fast food employee? Yeah, that was terrible motivation. It would have been better if Sailor Uranus used it to attack people who got her the wrong toy on Child’s day or something. That would make her more engaging.
No one even cares if you want a different toy. I used to ask for the boys toy all the time. I worked at a fast food place, we were used to switching them. The bronies already fought that civil right for you. Let the internet fix this for you:
This is how she treats the people around her. Attack them for the smallest slights! Most of her friends are trans/ non binary/ gay in some way or the other, but those who aren’t exist for two purposes: to be stawman and commit a slight for Stephie to yell at them about, or b) to worship the ground she walks on and only talk about her issues.
HOW STEPHIE HANDLES DEBATE
Well, it’s not about characters, and it’s not funny, and gives us lectures, it must be educational for newcomers, right? Lets look at how she handles arguments:
And fun fact! The author
trans Yuno Sophie Labelle got kicked out of a local trans group for going off on an angry tirade ‘questioning their beliefs.’ I wonder how she could have approached them that would have provoked that response?
And aww, ‘truscum’? Isn’t that cute. She’s invented a new hate term for transgender people who don’t agree with her! It’s lovely how she keeps those spaces safe for other trans women where they can go and not be verbally attacked.
But that is assigned male in a nutshell.
It doesn’t want to educate the audience. It doesn’t want to make logical arguments. It wants the audience to blindly agree with her points otherwise they’re a PRIVELEDGED CISSEXIST TOOL OF THE PATRIARCHY!
Yet asking questions about those points for clarification- even none invasive none personal questions? SEE ABOVE. And accidentally making a mistake? … BTW, whatever happened to that kid who said transwomen were women trapped in a male’s body?
Worse still, aside from the strawmen, the biggest target of her ire are the perfectly
Actually, that’s a pretty good argument- it makes their issues a mater of human rights, and people often dehumanise trans people by referring to them as ‘it’, so it’s something people need reminding. It should be done because they’re smart, funny and talented? Okay, fine. But what about Caitlin Jenner or trans people we despise? Do we get to respect them? What about trans women who are violent criminals? If we respected trans women based on merit, wouldn’t that mean that misgendering women who are terrible people is okay?
This comic doesn’t just rely on blind aggression to argue its points! We also have logical fallacies:
Strawman, strawman everywhere:
Giving the enemy swirly eyes:
Yeah, twitter wasn’t convinced.
See what you did there, but no, people not being attracted to trans people is a VERY different debate to people not being attracted to different races. The ‘you are transphobic for not wanting to date me’ directly plays into the TERF fear mongering that they do to lesbians that transwomen are gonna bully and manipulate them into having sex with them.
And the admission that the presence of any logical scrutiny will destroy her:
Stephie makes an Illogical arguement, is called out on it, then she pivots.
You should try and be more like the perfect ally like Stephie… speaking of allyship
STEPHIE IS SELF ABSORBED
Hmmm, learning and mostly listening….
Don’t tell other people how to advocate for their rights? Well, that’s good advice. Lets see how long Stephie can keep that up before she starts telling a gay anti bullying campaigner how to do it and making it all about Stephie:
She couldn’t even listen for a fucking panel. And of course, gay activist couldn’t be allowed to be right or have validity talking about his own his own issues! No, we’re going to turn him into a strawman so her Sueiness can be right!
Oh, gee! Thanks for transplaining to a gay man what homophobia is and making him the REAL homophobe, asshole! Why couldn’t he be as well versed on gay issues as an 11 year old trans girl?
I’m sure a homophobia educator who selflessly devotes his time to travelling around schools to promote equality would TOTALLY start calling femme gays ‘fags’ in the middle of class. It’s not like he would have recieved letters from or spoken to boys who go bullied for being effeminate or anything.
And also- maybe they aren’t tired of the effeminate stereotype because they’re monsters. Maybe it’s because the swishy stereotype is the only representation they get in media, and they’re sick of basically being belittled and reduced to this:
And lets not forget that she’s only started living as a female for five minutes, and yet she’s the only one enlightened enough to stand up to those sexists and realise objectification is wrong.
She’s also so self absorbed she can’t put her own issues aside to help a kid with his homework:
This wouldn’t be so bad, but we never see her do anything or care for anyone else’s issues unless its gender related.
This comic isn’t the only one she spent berating the gays for not being good enough cis allies . She never attacks lesbians or Muslims funny enough, even though both groups tend to have far more issue with transwomen in their communities than gay men.
I personally have a theory as to why: morality isn’t based on your actions, but how marginalized you are. You’re only allowed to be sympathetic in this series if you have at least two marginalizations. Gay men are scum because even though they’re cis men and being gay doesn’t cancel that out. Cis women are dickheads because they’re still straight and cis. Lesbians- in spite of being typically more anti trans than gay men- don’t get criticised because they’re still both women AND gay and can’t be evil. Myrick gets forgiven for being traditionally masculine because he’s trans and POC. Her best friend is good because she’s black and female, in spite of being cis.
SCIENCE AND FACTS ARE TRANSPHOBIC
Ugh! The worst thing is that this is anti science and anti reason.
‘Saying there are male and female brains is neurosexist’. First, wha? Second. BUUULLLLLSSSSHIIIIIITTTTTT! It’s not neurosexist, it’s scientifically demonstratable. Scientists have actually done research and found that there are male and female brains. In fact, it’s those big mean neurosexist scientists that are actually proving that transgenderism has a biological basis and that trans women really do have a feminized brain– thus not men pretending to be women.
But Stephie aint having nothing to do with biology.
Actually, Mr Scientific Research provides us with DNA testing which can determine how many chromosomes you have. Why don’t you take one if you think they got that wrong, Stephie? Because you KNOW what chromosomes you have; this is a red herring and you know that. And it’s the MALE Y chromosome which triggers the processes in the womb that cause the development of a penis, except in exceptionally rare cases where something goes wrong, so yeah, if everything is working correctly Y chromosomes = boy parts = biological sex.
This isn’t even an arguement that trans activists even use anyway.
Most trans activists
have a perception of reality and can make reasonable arguments see a difference between ‘gender’ and ‘sex’.
Here’s a fucking diagram:
But for all those gender studies books she reads, Stephie uses the words interchangeably (unless its in a talking point to bash teh gayz), which leads me to believe she doesn’t grasp even the basic gender theory.
But I’ll bite. So… if saying that sex difference isn’t in the brain, has nothing to do with genitals, biology, then it must be to do with clothes and gender roles? What did you say about that again?
So… the question remains… if gender has nothing to do with genitals, nothing to do with the brain, nothing to do with stereotypes and gender roles don’t mean anything and everyone gets to define gender for themselves… why do you need to identify as a girl? What is your motivation to transition? If girl and boy have no meaning besides what you want it to mean, why can’t you wear dresses and say you’re defining boy as someone who wears dresses? Afterall, you say men are privileged and being a girl sucks, so why do you want to experience life as a girl?
THE WORST PART
You know, there is so much more I wanted to talk about but don’t have enough energy to. This comic has ended me. Do you know what the worst part is? This book is being sold and marketed to small kids.
There are hardly any books dealing with trans characters, so this book about an angry, hateful, irrational person who has no personality is the role model trans children are getting- and what other kids will think being trans means.
If her comics are anything to go by, what riveting reads in age appropriate language we’re gonna get:
They’re also getting to see a mother genuinely struggle to come to terms with their trans kid’s transition and see them painted as a monstrous harpy.
Why was Sophie so intent on not letting Stephie be a character? Instead of the lectures, why couldn’t she create a role model like Sailor Moon provided 20 years ago? Sailor Uranus was a wonderful role model and a fun character.
Sailor Uranus is brave, strong, cocky, loyal, a race driver, a loving girlfriend and superhero who fights evil with her friends. She doesn’t identify with either gender and takes the male role, pronouns, dress and identity in civilian life . We see her live as none binary without endless soapboxing. We see her fight evil with her friends, bicker with her girlfriend and raise a child, not lecture people endlessly on privilige and cissexism.
Or even Alyssa from the tween friendly Batgirl comics. She’s not a pivotal character, but she is a character
OMG Alyssa can be trans AND have a life as well.
Why couldn’t have Sophie given the world one of these women? A girl that trans women could look up to and cis children could recognise as loveable? Why did she have to let her pet peeves- mostly against allies and well meaning people who say the wrong thing- overthrow her story.
She created a platform, and yet she created a work which is more famous for its anti SJW (and much funnier) memes than its content.
But did this always have to be the case? How could Sophie have created a comic that teaches people about important social issues while still being fun and entertaining? Well, next time I’m going to look at some well handled trans/ female etc characters in other mediums, and the odd couple of panels the author sort of got right, to explore how it could be done right.