Dream of Brighter Tomorrows: Should You Be Reading ‘Assigned Male?’
With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.
Created by Sophie Labelle, the socially aware comedy webcomic Assigned Male has been running since 2014, detailing the daily life and trials of queer kids of every gender and orientation.
WHAT'S IT ABOUT?
Assigned Male follows the daily life of Stephie, a young girl who is in fifth grade as of the first comic, and her friends, including Ciel, who is introduced in the first comic. Both of them are trans children --- Stephie is a girl and Ciel eventually comes out as non-binary.
Most of the characters who are introduced are queer, and the few non-queer characters show all the ignorance that any average non-queer child might. But they're all more or less good.
There are a bunch of loose plot-lines, including Stephie's father adjusting to the idea that he has a daughter, and a trip to a trans- and queer-friendly camp, which has some of the best characters, lines, and jokes.
Aside from the loose plot, there are plenty of topical strips, including ones on the recent Trans Bathroom Panic, and the Orlando Pulse Club shooting.
WHO'S IT BY?
French-Canadian cartoonist Sophie Labelle, who works as a teacher in Montreal. She also writes and draws Uncommon Girlhood: Stories I Need To Tell, about her life as a trans youth.
WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?
Imagine if the gang of Peanuts were queer-friendly and talked about the trials of being queer youth, while still maintaining the lightness and softness that are synonymous with those strips. That's what this comic is.
Most stories that deal with trans people have them, at youngest, in their teenage years. But trans youth --- who are out, living proud --- are real, and it's wonderful that there's a comic that can represent them.
In addition, despite the title, the series does not focus solely on people who were assigned male at birth. It has trans boys and girls, non-binary people, and queer people of varying genders.
Assigned Male has a delicate touch, keeping its characters safe while still having them talk about issues that queer people face head-on (which is sometimes lampshaded by some fierce fourth wall winks). Some people might be put off by its sometimes saccharine-sweet touch, but it's nice to have something sweet to go with all the bitterness that trans and queer people encounter in the world.
WHO SHOULD READ IT?
People who like soft, welcoming art. Anyone who is interested in what life is like for queer people, especially queer children. Anyone who has a queer child. Anyone who always wanted a L'il Dykes to Watch Out For book.
WHERE CAN I READ IT?