New Cartoon: Trump and Trans Soldiers

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This ripped-from-the-headlines cartoon was posted on The Nib today. Thanks, Nib!

I think this may be the first time I’ve drawn Donald Trump.


Panel 1
Donald Trump, standing on a stage behind a podium with the Presidential seal on it, is speaking. He’s wearing a blue suit.
CAPTION: Trump to Soldiers, January 20, 2017
TRUMP: I have your back!

Panel 2
A female soldier looks down, surprised, to see that someone has stabbed her in the back, the knife tip emerging from the front of her chest. We can see that the knife is being held by someone in a blue suit.
CAPTION: Trump to trans soldiers, July 26, 2017.

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11 Responses to New Cartoon: Trump and Trans Soldiers

  1. 1
    Grace Annam says:

    There is a good discussion on this going on over at Whatever:

    My contribution is currently at the bottom of the page.


  2. 2
    Ledasmom says:

    I can’t decide if this would be more effective with slightly more realism, or if bloodless cartoon violence gets the point across better. I think not showing the stabber’s whole body in the second panel is the right choice – the soldier is the focus, not her attacker.
    ETA: If I understand correctly and what I have heard is correct, this ban could result in trans soldiers receiving general discharges rather than honorable, which would create additional problems – wouldn’t that mean either leaving one’s military service off one’s resume, or having to explain why the discharge was other than honorable? And doesn’t it have implications for benefits? I hope I’m wrong, but this action by Trump seems to have no purpose but deliberate cruelty to people that he thinks he can torment with impunity.

  3. 3
    Jake Squid says:

    I hope I’m wrong, but this action by Trump seems to have no purpose but deliberate cruelty to people that he thinks he can torment with impunity.

    If, as I believe, Trump is nothing more than a full blown narcissist, then this is just another attempt to secure adulation from the masses. As are all of his actions.

  4. 4
    Ampersand says:

    Regarding Trump’s motivation, it may have been in part to facilitate the funding for other Trump priorities.

    Inside Trump’s snap decision to ban transgender troops – POLITICO

    Trump’s sudden decision was, in part, a last-ditch attempt to save a House proposal full of his campaign promises that was on the verge of defeat, numerous congressional and White House sources said.

  5. 6
    Dreidel says:

    This is by far the best political cartoon you’ve published to date. It passes two important tests — the format test and the anger quotient.

    Format-wise: It has only two frames. There is only a single speech balloon in the first frame, and that speech perfectly sets up the irony of the second frame.

    It makes its point without excessive gore or anger, either of which would have damaged the impact of the cartoon’s message. I give this specific cartoon a rare A+.
    You’re right that I’m older that you imagined me. I cast my first vote in 1966, and I’ve voted straight Republican since then (except this year, when I didn’t vote For Trump). Ragingly angry, hateful cartoons devoid of subtelty that tell me that I’m automatically a racist just because I’m a Republican, or a white man, raise my ire very quickly.

  6. 7
    Grace Annam says:

    Dreidel prompted me to go back and look at the art. A couple of things leapt out at me, this time.

    The knife is emerging through the front of the soldier’s uniform, and she is clearly surprised, and not yet in pain or bleeding. So, she has been run through very quickly, which means the knife is very sharp. But the cut is ragged. It shouldn’t be; it should be a straight cut, even through standard BDU fabric.

    The soldier’s hair is down in a ponytail. Except when doing PT, I believe that it has to be up above the collar.


  7. 8
    Mandolin says:

    I think the actual point of stabbing itself is more metaphorically representative than meant to be taken as a literal visual depiction of a stabbing. Which I prefer, it makes the mood comic (in a black humor way) rather than simply deadly misery.

  8. 9
    Seriously? says:

    Grace, if we are going to discuss the realism of the stabbing, the ragged cut is the least of the problems.

    The blade is so wide that it must have gone through, or at least pushed aside, ribs. This is why you keep blades parallel with your target’s ribs… hunting arrow blades aligned with the odd fletching and combat arrow blades perpendicular to the odd fletching are another pet peeve of mine.

    Furthermore, the grip looks like a loose fencer grip, nothing like what it would have to be if it had just pushed a sizeable blade through a person.

    Maybe it is just me, but the cartoonish style of the stabbing distracts me. I would have preferred a more realistic depiction, one that is sinister and nauseating.

    On the other hand, as it is, it depicts great power, and a casual attitude towards the act (of the part of the assailant). This may be deliberate, and the more I think about it, the more I am starting to approve.

  9. 10
    Grace Annam says:


    It’s true; the blade is very wide for a stab with so casual a grip. It has to have gone through ribs, but on the anterior side it looks like it went just left of her sternum (and therefore right through her heart, so well done on that point, Amp), which means that it could be going through the cartilagenous connections between ribs and sternum.

    Also, the small section of the blade visible just at the hilt is not in line with the line of the blade where it comes out of her chest.

    I agree that the grip is off. It should either be tremendously casual, like he didn’t even really think about it, almost literally offhand (which would make it cartoonish, since that grip wouldn’t drive the depicted cut), or it should be white-knuckled fist up against the guard… which would also require moving the victim to the right of the frame if we wanted to keep the assailant out-of-frame. However, since the assailant in this case is abundantly clear, it would be perfectly fair to depict him looming behind her, with an upwardly vicious thrust, with the blade flat to pass the ribs.

    Perhaps depicting a rapier would fix most of this, but that carries a connotation of class, and we wouldn’t want that. Far better that it be a dagger.


    I take your point. But I don’t agree. I think that this is a matter of taste, perhaps. But for trans service members, this is pretty extreme; they were not merely betrayed rhetorically; they were told by their government and chain of command that it was now safe to serve openly, as themselves, and, once they had been lured into the open, they were casually sacrificed for a small political gain. Trump had no hand in the set-up, which President Obama’s administration put through with the best of intentions… but that only made the bait seem more genuine. So in a political cartoon a brutal representation seems only appropriate, to me.

    (Another cartoon image occurs to me; President Obama offering a kind, helping hand over a barrier to a wounded soldier, in the first frame, and in the second frame Trump shoving President Obama aside and booting the wounded soldier in the face, and back across the barrier. Maybe with some wall-building going on in the background. But, then, I’m not a visual artist, and Amp frequently responds to my ideas by pointing out that they’re too visually complex, which is generally true.)

    The only way the metaphor could be more accurate would be if Trump were pouring them into the hopper of a sausage-maker. But that would be visually more complex, and therefore less direct, and leveraging a different parallel.


  10. 11
    Ampersand says:

    It may or may not have been a mistake, but drawing the stabbing as I did – very unrealistically, and Trump’s hand looking like the stabbing was done casually, with very little effort on his part – was a deliberate choice.

    Drawing the soldier in the split-second before her reaction, rather than emphasizing her pain and suffering, was also a deliberate choice.I’m not saying that was necessarily the correct choice, but it was deliberate.

    I don’t think I would change the knife grip or design in any of the ways suggested – the unreality of the stabbing is, for me, essential to making the cartoon work well, pretty much for the reasons Mandolin said, and for the reasons Seriously? said in the final paragraph of comment 9. But I wish I had drawn her hair differently – especially since the thing in the drawing I put the most effort into was trying to draw her clothing at least somewhat accurately.

    (Grace, I agree that a cartoon with a brutal approach would also be appropriate. There’s definitely room for more than one approach.)