Cartoon: The Celestial Politics of Trans Bans

This cartoon is a collaboration with Becky Hawkins. And Becky wrote the text for this Patreon post, too! Take it away, Becky!

This script seemed like a natural fit for me since I’ve been doing autobio comics with a shoulder angel for almost 13 years (!!!).

Here was Shoulder Angel’s first appearance in a sketch from April 2011:

I started a multi-page Shoulder Angel/Shoulder Devil cartoon soon afterward.

But I had trouble with Shoulder Devil’s character design and outfit. What signifies the “evil” version? (Sexy? Corporate? Counterculture?) There are a ton of interesting things that could be explored with this, but…I didn’t. The sporty Shoulder Devil seemed to be the appropriate antithesis of Shoulder Angel and I enjoyed watching her wind Shoulder Angel up. That’s as far as I went with that idea.

I feel like the shoulder angel/shoulder devil dichotomy is usually between good/evil or rules/mischief. I liked the idea of a shoulder angel who’s motivated by varying things like safety and pleasure, giving advice with mixed results. So, Shoulder Angel stuck around.

If your characters are vastly different sizes and you have to draw them together, the smaller character will sometimes be tiny. This is part of why I simplified Shoulder Angel’s design over the first few years. She went from being a miniature Becky with freckles and ruffled clothes to being shaped like a tiny cone with wings, arms, and a head. I added a V-neck to her choir robe for a little detail.

I actually found it hard to do the character designs for this political cartoon since my Shoulder Angel is so simplified! I looked at how other cartoonists had handled this challenge with Kronk, Homer Simpson, etc. Their angels/devils pretty much looked like miniature versions of the character with different outfits. I’d originally planned for the governor’s angel and devil to be wearing matching blazers, but it didn’t look very interesting. Barry came up with the idea of a punk angel and corporate devil. He also suggested the different-colored clouds. I love how this one turned out!

Off the subject, if you supported Barry’s Patreon last month, you contributed toward these rad muted purple Doc Martens, so extra thank you!!

Shortly after emailing me the above Patreon post, Becky texted me, and we had the following exchange:

Fortunately, once it was actually done, Becky was extremely pleased with how the colors came out!


This cartoon has six panels.


A reporter is pushing their microphone right in front of the Governor’s face. The Governor is wearing a suit jacket over a turtleneck with a necklace on top of the shirt, and has obviously professionally done hair. She looks a little uncertain.

REPORTER: Governor, what’s your position on the gender affirming care ban?

GOVERNOR: The bill blocking doctors from treating trans kids? Um…


A close-up on the governor’s face. Next to the governor, floating in the air, a little angel has appeared with a “POOF!” sound effect and a little white cloud. The governor is looking at the shoulder angel out of the corners of her eyes.

ANGEL: This is an awful bill!


A close shot of the shoulder angel let’s us see her outfit clearly. She has light purple hair combed to one side, and her head is buzzcut on the other side. She’s wearing a white leather jacket with metal studs and a zipper on the sleeve, a white skirt, fishnets, and white boots. She’s also got little white wings and a halo floating over her head.

She has her hands fisted and looks a little angry.

ANGEL: This bill is pandering to bigots! It’s giving in to a moral panic! And it’ll do so much harm to trans kids!


A longer shot, allowing us to see the shoulder angel, the Governor, and – appearing on the opposite side of the Governor from the angel in a “POOF!” and a considerably darker cloud – a shoulder devil. The devil is a woman in a red two-piece suit over a yellow v-neck blouse, and heels to match the blouse. She has two horns, bat-like wings, and is carrying a trident.

The Governor looks thoughtful, hand on her chin, one eyebrow lifted, looking at the shoulder devil out of the corners of her eyes.

ANGEL: All to solve a problem that doesn’t even exist!



The shoulder devil, raising her arms as if cheerleading, speaks to the Governor, who is now looking more directly at the devil. The angel’s eyes widen in dismay.

DEVIL: Fearmongering wins elections.


Looking more confident, the Governor is now speaking into the microphone.  Her text is smaller sized and has no word balloon, indicating that it’s sort of a background detail. The angel has her arms crossed and is sitting (in mid air) with her legs crossed, looking at the Governor with annoyance.  The devil is holding her pitchfork above her head in both hands and practically dancing, a huge and evil grin, victorious.

GOVERNOR: …protect children from perverts blah blah blah…

ANGEL: Well, this sucks.

DEVIL: This is great! Next let’s do a law forcing teachers to out trans students!

Celestial Politics of Trans Bans | Patreon

This entry posted in Cartooning & comics, Lesbian, Gay, Bi, Trans and Queer issues, Transsexual and Transgender related issues. Bookmark the permalink. 

3 Responses to Cartoon: The Celestial Politics of Trans Bans

  1. 1
    bcb says:

    I read this page first over on Despite having read Becky’s French Toast Comix, I did not think of the connection with the Shoulder Angel until the blog post here pointed it out to me.

  2. 2
    Jacqueline Squid Onassis says:

    I LOVE the Doc Martens!

    And also the whole comic.

  3. 3
    Ampersand says:

    BCB, I definitely thought of the connection when I offered this cartoon to Becky to draw! But I had no idea if her reaction would be “oh I’ve gotta draw this” or “no friggin’ way, I’m a one-shoulder-angel-woman.” :-p

    Jacqueline, thanks! Glad you like it. And the DMs are awesome.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *