Comics/Graphic Novels

A Heartwarming Trans Graphic Novel

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Patricia Elzie-Tuttle

Contributing Editor

Patricia Elzie-Tuttle is a writer, podcaster, librarian, and information fanatic who appreciates potatoes in every single one of their beautiful iterations. Patricia earned a B.A. in Creative Writing and Musical Theatre from the University of Southern California and an MLIS from San Jose State University. Her weekly newsletter, Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice offers self-improvement and mental health advice, essays, and resources that pull from her experience as a queer, Black, & Filipina person existing in the world. She is also doing the same on the Enthusiastic Encouragement & Dubious Advice Podcast. More of her written work can also be found in Body Talk: 37 Voices Explore Our Radical Anatomy edited by Kelly Jensen, and, if you’re feeling spicy, in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year, Volume 4 edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel. Patricia has been a Book Riot contributor since 2016 and is currently co-host of the All the Books! podcast and one of the weekly writers of the Read This Book newsletter. She lives in Oakland, CA on unceded Ohlone land with her wife and a positively alarming amount of books. Find her on her Instagram, Bluesky, and LinkTree.

Today’s pick is a translated graphic novel from a Spanish comic artist.

Book cover of Us with an illustration of two pink women with flowers in their hair leaning their foreheads together and smiling with their eyes closed

Us by Sara Soler, lettering by Joamette Gil, and translated by Silvia Perea Labayen

This graphic novel is a memoir about a very specific time in the author’s life. It is the story about when her girlfriend, Diana, came out as trans and how they navigated their relationship and her transition together. They decide to share their story so that folks can have some insight into one version of the reality of transitioning. Every trans person has a different story and so, Sara and Diana are sharing theirs.

I am completely biased in my love for this graphic novel because so much of it mirrors my and my wife’s experience. Yes, of course there are difficult things to deal with, like coming out to folks (for both of us!) who may not be as accepting as hoped for. There’s misogyny and transmisogyny and transphobia and homophobia and all the things that can scare people into staying in the closet. What this comic also captures, though, is some of the absolute joy that occurs as well. The joy that happens when your girlfriend tries on gender-affirming clothing. The happy surprise when grandparents understand more than you had expected them to. The warmth that happens when some of your close friends embrace you both fully as your authentic selves. There is also the awkwardness of coming out to various people. It’s never “one-and-done.”

The comic is written from not only a place of sharing, but also offers educational bits on transgender folks and transitioning. It’s a really good example of what can happen in some relationships, especially when the people involved want to stay together. It can take a lot of learning, unlearning, and inner work that some people aren’t prepared for or aren’t interested in doing.

It is an absolutely lovely comic that doesn’t shy away from the hard stuff while also highlighting the good stuff. There’s always more good stuff than expected, and it’s really important to keep that at the forefront.

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