First all-trans* panel at San Diego comic con

Daniel Wren

Comic Con in San Diego recently ran its first all-trans* panel, called ‘Breaking Barriers: Transgender Trends in Popular Culture’. The con claims this was the first panel of its kind in the world of fandom.

Prism Comics’ Tara Madison Avery, the organiser of the panel, asked the panellists to discuss issues of representation in comics. The panel also included Dylan Edwards, Milanie Gillman, J.D. Saxon, Elizabeth Lain, Ashley Love and Michelle Nolan.

Avery said, ‘Prism Comics features panels at San Diego Comic-Con every year. The Prism board decides upon panel topics several months in advance of the show. The idea of a trans* panel came up as it seemed like a topic that has gained currency in recent years with trans people distinguishing themselves in literature, entertainment, and the arts.’

‘In recent years, Transgender creators have gained visibility in comics, movies, and television after long being consigned to the shadows,’ said Comic Con. ‘From coming out and transition to navigating gender politics in a world still struggling to understand, cartoonists, writers, and filmmakers are investing their work with unique personal experiences as their characters learn to live and love in new and unexpected ways.’

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Ashley Love, Trans Forming Media journalist and trans advocate, said, ‘A lot’s changed since last decade concerning images of transsexual or gender non-conforming people. More trans* characters are included in TV and film, some of them affirming and balanced. On the flip side we’re still struggling with issues like Hollywood “transface”, where non-trans male actors are miscast to play trans woman roles, such as the recent Dallas Buyers Club controversy and Amazon’s upcoming show Transparent … It’s great that Comic Con is finally having a trans* specific panel because our communities have so much to offer mainstream society in terms of talent, creativity and expertise. Though many challenging obstacles remain, I feel things are getting better.’

Tara Avery said, ‘We want to focus on the emerging visibility of the trans community with this panel. That presents a challenge if we want to confine the discussion to mainstream comics. There are no major trans characters in any of the Big Three’s books right now. Instead we chose to focus on other publishing venues. Trans creators and characters have found homes in small press comics and webcomics where there are fewer corporate restraints and creators can remain true to themselves and their vision.’

There were also four other panels that directly addressed LGBT+ issues in comics – indicating that the world of comics wants to move with the times and embrace all elements of the fandom community.

The panel took place at the San Diego Comic Con on Thursday 24 July at 5pm.

For those who missed the panel, the UK’s Nine Worlds GeekFest 2014 will also feature LGBT+ panellists, authors and performers. Nine Worlds is at Radisson Heathrow from 8-10 August.

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About Daniel Wren

Vada Magazine staff writer. Interested in travel, news, politics and dating.