Transposes

Transposes is one of those books where I don’t even need to review it. It covers such a specialized subject, one so rarely reflected in fiction, that those interested in the topic will want to get it regardless of what I say about it.

Dylan Edwards presents, in comic form, the stories of seven real-life transgender (female-to-male) queer-identified men. One is traveling for a hookup in a story about the mechanics of sex. Another reflects on his life so far in a tale about finding his identity. The third covers someone discovering what gay FTMs are. The last story covers both partners in a couple, tracing their lives both separately and together.

Not all the stories are positive. One involves an unfortunate encounter that ends badly, with lasting consequences. The “Avery” story I found confusing between the flashbacks and the characters not being fully introduced to the reader. It also raises questions of male privilege that are barely acknowledged and I wish had been explored further… but since this is a collection of autobiographical tales, Edwards was restricted to the stories his subjects told.

The art is straightforward, which is well-suited to the real-life subject matter. One clever technique used is the way Edwards, when he wants to indicate talking without the actual words being important, fills a word balloon with words that mean more as symbols than text content.

Those unfamiliar with the subculture may wish for a different book, since this isn’t a very good primer on the topic. Edwards, in the illustrated introduction where he explains his goals for Transposes, lists some personal questions about being QFTM that he’s specifically not going to answer. As a result, this volume isn’t a good starting point to the subject for those not already familiar with the terminology and what it means (such as “T” for transitioning). In some ways, he’s preaching to the choir, reflecting for this particular group of people their experiences (or close enough to be interesting reading) in comic form. They and those sympathetic to them will most enjoy this book.

Alison Bechdel provides the foreword. There are preview pages at the publisher’s website. (The publisher provided a review copy.)

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