The Transvengers webcomic was created by a group of young trans people aged 13-19 from Gendered Intelligence and is featured in our Institute of Sexology exhibition. Find out more about the project on our website. This review and interview with one of the young people involved has been re-posted from the LGBTQ Arts and Culture Review.
Review: The Transvengers | by Harri
The Transvengers comic is an online comic created by a group of 13-19 year olds from Gendered Intelligence, it’s also on display at the Institute of Sexology exhibition. It’s an incredibly powerful piece of work, but also demonstrates a sharp sense of humour from its creators – we’d certainly recommend a read. This week, LGBTQ Arts’ Harri wrote up some thoughts having read the comic, and also interviewed Shaun, one of the creators.
I was incredibly curious to read The Transvengers comic, simply due to the name. The Transvengers is short online comic created by some of Gendered Intelligence’s teenagers, it follows a group of people existing outside of heteronormativity and the gender binary and their attempts to find the first people who fought against the heteronormativity paradigm.
The comic is a light hearted look at a serious issue as it makes some serious comments on how not only is it hard to be accepted by people in everyday life when you exist outside of heteronormativity but also how it can be hard to be excepted within the LGBT community itself.
Personally I enjoyed the comic finding it funny while still making me ask serious questions about how we treat those outside of heteronormativity and the gender binary. There’s a definite truthfulness to the comic, showing that while things are not as good as we want them to be and that this may remain the case for a while there are still people who are accepting and willing to help each other in any way they can.
Harri’s interview with Shaun
How did you come up with the ideas of travelling back in time in the comic?
During the early stages of working on the webcomic, we had a session with an expert in the subject, who used her knowledge of the sexologists and their views in the exhibition to let us “interview” them. We ended up including several of those questions and answers in the script of the comic itself. I think we all felt that having our characters, with their modern understanding of trans issues, talk to sexologists from the past would be a great way to explore how views of what it means to be trans have – or perhaps haven’t – changed both inside and out of the trans community.
How did you decide which historical figures to look into?
We always wanted the webcomic to be linked to the Institute of Sexology exhibition, so we used the key figures whose work is explored in it as our starting point for research. The wealth of information we had on them by working with the Wellcome and visiting their collections and stores made it very interesting to look into those particular sexologists.
Do you think your comic could of changed people’s views or was it more for fun?
I think we definitely set out to inform people and try to broaden their understanding, especially of heteronormativity and how it negatively affects people. One member of the group also created an excellent glossary that was displayed next to the interactive screen and is also available on the Wellcome’s website, which I think made it much more accessible and informative. But there was definitely a fun element, which really came from everyone who worked on it. We had a great time working on the comic, so I like that we had a sense of humour in our work even though there is some sad and serious stuff too.
In the comic one of the characters comes from the future but still faces prejudice due to the way they want to dress, do you think it’s going to take a long time for people to become more accepting or do you think things are beginning to change more quickly?
I think things are beginning to change, and there is certainly more tolerance if not acceptance for people like us, but right now there are pockets of understanding rather than a widespread change in the way people think about gender. Ideas like non-binary gender, which that character represented for me, have yet to really get into the mainstream. There is a lot more education and outreach that needs to happen before the developments in the trans and non-binary community can impact the wider public, but the world is starting to change and that’s a really positive thing.
What kind of impact did creating the comic have on you? Was the feedback to it positive?
Working on the comic was a really wonderful experience. I learnt a lot about the way LGBTQ people have been understood and explained in the past, and the group were so much fun to work with. It was really exciting to talk about the issues faced by the community, and make something constructive and creative with like-minded people. The best part was going to the preview evening of the exhibition and watching people react to the webcomic. There was such a great response to it as it was being read. It was really satisfying to see people engage with the comic and enjoy it!
(C) Harri C 2015
Harri is a teenage human of below average height and an above average love for the Marvel Universe with a passion for theatre. Harri lives in London with constantly changing hair colour, an insane family, and difficulty with finding the right personal pronoun.
Visit the LGBTQ Arts and Culture Review to see more LGBTQ artists and work celebrated.