If you’d like me to keep making cartoons like this, the only solution is to wear a clown nose twenty four hours a day two hundred sixty days a year (you get weekends off) while standing on a street corner offering free hugs to every fifth passerby unless the passerby has a dog in which case hug the dog unless the dog looks mean in which case you need to stand on your head on your bed for twelve minutes or you could support my patreon.
About ten years ago, I coincidentally was given rides by two different acquaintances of mine, both trans women, in the same week.
The first ride was from a young woman I’d met online. She chatted about her life as she drove: her political causes, her art, her friends, her college classes. I know her life wasn’t free of troubles – or of transphobia – but I’d describe her as cheerful, even vibrant.
She had started gender affirming treatments, including hormone therapy, as a teenager. Most people who she hadn’t come out to, seeing her, would assume she’s a cis woman.
The second ride, a few days later, from from a woman I knew through my job at a historic church site. She was in her late fifties, and hadn’t begun gender affirming treatments until well into her adulthood. And although her life certainly wasn’t nothing but bleakness, she had to go through struggles my younger friend hadn’t. Many strangers can guess, from seeing her, that she’s trans, and that makes her subject to discrimination and even danger. The measures she needed to alleviate her gender dysphoria – which included non-surgical measures such as vocal training, but also many surgeries – were painful and expensive, meaning that on top of everything else she was being overwhelmed by debt.
There were other large differences in how the world had treated these two trans women – my younger friend’s family had been far more supportive, for example, which makes a huge difference. And of course both of them had many things going on in their lives aside from being trans.
I don’t want to overgeneralize. Not all trans people who transition early have an easy time of it (far from it!), and many trans people who transition later in life have wonderful lives.
So it’s a generalization, but: Getting gender affirmative treatment early – before puberty has taken its full effect – is a way trans people can avoid an enormous amount of psychic pain, physical pain, actual danger, and a mountain of debt.
Deliberately banning young trans people from gender affirmative treatment is incredibly harmful. It’s nothing but cruel. And it’s infuriating and shocking that so many people want to do that kind of harm to young people they’ve never even met.
I do this thing when I’m drawing. “I’ll make things easy on myself – I’ll just draw them talking as they walk through a park.”
But then when I’m actually drawing the cartoon, I’ll tell myself “I don’t want to be lazy. Maybe I should make it a cobblestone path” and “I don’t want to be lazy. I’ll make the last panel a big landscape” and “why not add a bunny?”
But it is fun.
In an attempt to loosen up my lines, instead of inking with a (simulated digital) pen as I usually do, I inked this strip with a (simulated digital) brush. It made a bit of a difference, but not a difference I think anyone but me is likely to notice. Oh, well, I’ll keep trying.
TRANSCRIPT OF CARTOON
This cartoon has four panels. Each panel shows the same two women talking as they walk through a hilly park. The lighting is a bit dim.
The first woman has long brown hair, and is wearing a plaid shirt and jeans with rolled-up cuffs. For convenience, we’ll name her “Plaid.” The second woman has short dark hair, and is wearing a tee shirt, a skirt, and black tights. We’ll name her “Skirt.”
Plaid and Skirt are walking through a park. Plaid is looking a little concerned, and Skirt looks a little angry.
PLAID: I read about a fifteen year old with meningitis. They treated her with steroids, but it made things worse. she ended up wishing she hadn’t taken steroids at all.
SKIRT: Maybe we should have a law banning treating meningitis in minors?
Plaid, looking a little annoyed, turns her head to speak to Skirt. Skirt looks doubtful, but raises a finger, making a point.
PLAID: What? Of course not! Think of all the kids with meningitis who are helped by being treated.
SKIRT: But some kids recover from meningitis without treatment.
A closer shot. Plaid looks angry, and Skirt looks distressed, her eyes wide and her hands on her cheeks.
PLAID: But other kids need treatment! What about them?
SKIRT: You’re right! What was I thinking? Banning kids from getting medical help is obviously cruel! And irrational! Even monstrous!
The “camera” has pulled away to a far-away shot. We can see the (very cartoony) landscape: rolling hills, trees and houses, distant mountains, and large clouds overhead. The two characters have their backs to the camera as they crest the top of a hill.
SKIRT: Unless the kid is trans.