The OUT Side

Written by The Kao, Min Christensen, and David Daneman.
Published by Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2023.

In this vibrant and affirming comics anthology, 29 proud trans and nonbinary comic artists share their personal journeys of self-discovery and acceptance through mini art comics. Many of the stories focus on coming out, with a few talking about later in trans-life experiences such as Lucas – The Nifty Fox (he/they) and his comic titled “How I got these Sweet Nips!” about getting top surgery. Veronica Jane’s (she/her) comic is about emerging as a trans woman and having “the talk” with her loving life-partner. She writes, “Fortunately, my partner could not have cared less about me being trans (Later they turned out to be a bisexual enby, so good luck for me all around.)” Jam Aden’s (he/they) comic is about coming to terms with society’s expectations and living life happily as a “nonbinary trans man.” Jam writes, “I think a lot of baggage comes from being The First Trans Person Somebody Meets. Over the past few years, I’ve come to realize that I’m not happy with the amount of femininity society allows me to express as a man. I’ve accepted that I can transition to be a feminine man … I’d rather challenge the world head-on and be too much to swallow.” Jam’s graphic art panels are the perfect complement for their story. Aidyn/Snailord’s (he/him) comic perfectly captures the bio he writes about himself as, “Two souls accidently got placed into my body. I’m bigender. Took a century for me to accept myself as I am. But I am so much happier now that I’ve signed a peace treaty with myself.”

This comic anthology is a love letter to the trans and nonbinary community. As editor, The Kao writes, “Personally, I’m a big fan of autobiographical stories of the authors’ experiences. The reason is simple: Representation matters. It’s one thing to relate to fictional characters, but something more powerful to see someone real going through struggles similar to your own. My goal was to feature a diverse group of proud trans and nonbinary artists and share their true stories of self-discovery and acceptance. My hope is that this collection will inspire anyone who may be struggling with their own identity and educate those who seek greater understanding.”

Julia Kaye (she/her) writes in the book’s forward, “This anthology is exactly the sort of book that I wish had existed when I was younger. Reading it feels like a warm embrace by a group of kindhearted friends who just want to let you know you’re not alone. That it’s okay to defy others’ expectations of who you are and express yourself however you need or want to. And you know that they mean it because they live that truth every day. Each story is touchingly personal and unique. They all have so much honesty and heart.

Best of all, each mini art comic strip in this collection begins with a brief introduction written by the artist, complete with an illustration they have made of themself, information about their graphic art and comics, and links to finding them online. This anthology is a wonderful introduction to exploring the art and comics of so many talented trans and nonbinary graphic writers/artists who display different art styles and techniques, but all deliver positive life-affirming personal stories and messaging. I enjoyed reading and reflecting on just one or two stories each day, so that I could stretch out the reading experience, and return to this book again and again.

This book review was submitted by Stand with Trans advocate Barb Shumer, who is a past board member and retired public librarian.

Mailing Address

23332 Farmington Rd #84
Farmington, MI 48336