The Bride Was a Boy
The Bride Was a Boy presents author Chii’s true story of her gender transition and wedding. It’s a timely topic, cutely told.
Each chapter covers an obvious question readers might have, from the couple’s meeting (and her concerns over when and how to tell him about her status) to Bride-chan’s surgery. Some are focused on the gender topic; others, such as the story of the proposal, are about their romance. Chii also tells us how she came to recognize her need for transition, how her family took it, and how she now deals with people asking her, since she’s married, when they’ll have kids.
At the time in Japan, they couldn’t get married unless she was legally female, which meant she had to have reassignment surgery, so there are a lot of topics touched on in this volume. It’s eye-opening, to see her thinking about so many concerns, but the underlying love story pulls it all together. Particularly since it’s realistic — it wasn’t love at first sight, but a growing relationship as they spent time together. She keeps things light and optimistic, but certain inequities are obvious, such as Japan’s prohibition against same-sex marriage, which complicates certain transitions.
I would have liked to have known more about what Husband-kun was thinking. He seems, at first, too good to be true, since his reaction to finding out his girlfriend was a boy is to say, “I bet that wasn’t easy to say. Thanks for telling me.” We don’t know his background or what brought him to this point of acceptance, but perhaps that’s because this is Chii’s story. There is a short text piece by him in the back, but it’s about him being supportive to her through the hard work to make this book.
(Some have criticized this book for being too perfect, since Chii’s family and boyfriend accept her change without much trauma or struggle. That may be the ideal, but there’s no reason to believe she’s lying about her history, and it’s refreshing to see someone’s difficult life journey happen relatively smoothly.)
Each chapter ends with a short text piece explaining terminology or the state of LGBT issues in Japan, as well as a page answering common misconceptions. This is where Chii often reminds us that this is her story, and others have different paths or opinions. It varies according to the individual, such as when people present as their true gender but don’t change their legal paperwork or have surgery. These sections are also, I think, carryover from the origins of this manga, which began as a blog and then an online four-panel comic strip before being expanded into this book.
The Bride Was a Boy is a great read that entertains while educating. The cute art and simple visual presentation (most of the comics are a way of presenting dialogue) make this an approachable introduction to a complex topic, with a welcome happy ending. (The publisher provided a review copy.)