The conversation about gender and sexuality on Tumblr takes various forms, and art is one such powerful medium. For its LGBT users—especially people who are trans and gender nonconforming—the website becomes an important platform for expression, because more often than not, they find their voices either silenced or underrepresented in mainstream visual culture. Following is a collection of tumblr artwork about transgender issues that are groundbreaking to say the least:
Zeke is a nonbinary graphic artist who has been documenting his experiences as a nonbinary teen through comics such as these. They have drawn comics about pertinent issues such as coming out, the use of correct pronouns, misgendering, bullying and so on. This particular comic is an interactive breakdown of the gender spectrum, and tells us what it really means when a person identifies as trans and nonbinary.
Unsquandered-talent is an anonymous tumblr graphic artist who identifies as neutrosis and agender (someone who does not identify with any gender), and deals with agender and nonbinary identities in a large way through their artwork. This piece addresses the various debilitating questions and comments that they experience on a daily basis after telling people that they identify as agender. These kind of insensitive reactions are way too common for any gender nonconforming person, and hence, this piece has a harrowing universal appeal.
Elias Ericson is yet another one of those graphic artists and illustrators who shot to fame through Tumblr. He is based in Sweden, and has even been featured in major art curations and exhibitions! His work explores queer and gender nonconforming identities in a major way (in fact, his first Tumblr art blog was called ‘superqueerartsyblog’), and this piece is yet another one of his brilliant comics on challenging gender binaries, and accepting that gender identities are vast, vivid and various.
Uncommon Girlhood’s series of comics titled, “Stories I Need to Tell” is perhaps one of the best comics about transgender identities out there. The series covers a wide range of trans issues—from exploring pronouns, gender expression, the painful processes of transitioning, societal backlash and so on. This particular comic follows the story of a young DMAB (Designated Male at Birth) child who finds gender expression through sewing the dresses and outfits they really want to wear, and how their grandmother encourages and supports their identity. It’s both emotional and life-affirming, and makes us all wish that we had a grandparent like this!
Though ER mostly dabbles with fanart, this is one piece that really stands out among her body of work. This comic is about the obsession the cis gaze has with transgender and gender nonconforming people’s genitals, and how this question—‘what’s between your legs?’—is so commonly asked. This fetishizing of trans people’s genitals really needs to be called out, and that is exactly what this comic does.
Minneapolis-based artist Anna Bongiovanni describes themselves as “cartoonist and sometimes nice person”. They started out with comics that deal with gender and sexuality on tumblr, and due to their popularity, has now moved on to illustrate for websites like EverydayFeminism and Autostraddle! This comic talks about the sensitive issue of pronouns, and how for a cis person, declaring their preferred pronouns might be a futile exercise, but is extremely important for someone who is gender nonconforming or trans.
Fanart can be an excellent means of subversion and for challenging the inherent heteronormativity of mainstream media. ‘Slash Pairings’, where fans imagine two canonically cisgendered and heterosexual characters with romantic potential as being in a queer relationship, is extremely common on Tumblr. Fans draw artwork and write stories (known as fanfiction) surrounding these slash pairings, and the characters of Steve Rogers and Bucky Barnes from the Captain America comicbooks and movies is a common such pairing who have a lot of fanart about them. This piece of fanart imagines Steve and Bucky as a genderqueer homosexual couple, which not only challenges the cisnormativity of the original comics, but also works wonders for queer representation! Infact, reimagining popular characters as trans and gender nonconforming is seen commonly on tumblr—something that’s absolutely revolutionary about this website!
Tyler, a transmale teen from Vancouver, is currently going through the long and arduous process of transitioning, and has been documenting the same through his comics. And not just his transition, he also talks about various other struggles he faces as a trans boy—prejudice, body image, dysphoria and so on. This comic deals with the various times he feels dysphoric in his body, but he refuses to loose optimism, because his caption for the comic is ‘I will get over it’. We support you, Tyler-you will definitely get over it!
This is the second part in our ‘Best of Tumblr’ series, where we curate our favourite artwork on gender, sex and sexuality from the website. Read the first part here.