Tag Archives: Trans Bashing

Robinson Apologized for Airboy Issue 2 Because We United and Took Action

“If There Is No Struggle, There Is No Progress. Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will”. – Frederick Douglass*

Airboy02_CoverActivism gets results. Graphic Policy and The Rainbow Hub were criticized by people in the comics community when we took action against the extremely transphobic second issue of Airboy. But because we raised hell we made progress. That’s the lesson people should be taking away from this.

On June 30th Graphic Policy and The Rainbow Hub‘s Emma Houxbois published stories calling attention to the rampant transphobia in the second issue of the Airboy comic. I’d lavished praise over the comic’s first issue. We knew the context the story took place in and it was the story itself that was transphobic, not just words that characters said while “behaving badly”. Our sites’ explained how the comic’s narrative repeats the dangerous myth that trans women are out there trying to “trick” men into sex with them. We explained that this myth endangers trans people and in a world in which “trans panic” still gets used as an excuse to murder trans people we need to react as strongly as possible when it is repeated.

And we heard crickets in response.

On July 2nd I emailed GLAAD, the most powerful media watchdog for LGBTQ people. We know that when GLAAD speaks out they can’t be ignored and the comics world knows it too– since GLAAD’s known for giving awards to comics that have positive portrayals of LGBTQ characters. GLAAD sprung into action. They issued a statement. And between their clout and the outcry we organized, we forced the comics community to pay attention to the problems in the comic.

And then James Robinson apologized. Robinson heard what we said, and he listened and explained that he now realizes that he “fucked-up” (his words) . I’m not trans but his apology seemed earnest and thoughtful to me. Some trans people were not impressed but others have responded favorably to his apology.

Only July 6, artist Greg Hinkle went so far as to THANK people who spoke up on Twitter and offer to continue the conversation at Comic-Con.

Meanwhile, what about all those defenders of Airboy #2? They continue to promote bigotry. Robinson acknowledged the problems with his comic. He wants to do better. When the artists who created the comic are saying that they now see the problem in what they made, their defenders should probably take a minute and use their hearts and their heads to listen. More importantly, they need to stop and listen to transwomen like Emma Houxbois who’s written powerfully about the problems in this comic and in comics at large.

In the end, the defenders of Airboy want to marginalize comics as an medium because they want to perpetuate a comics industry that excludes people who aren’t like them. They are bringing comics down. Also, to all of the “serious comics journalists” who were willing to acknowledge that there  “may be problems with Airboy 2″ but criticized Graphic Policy and Emma for demanding the book be pulled? Guess what. We got results. If we had played it quiet and POLITE we wouldn’t have brought the attention we brought to the problem.

Remember, we started out by just writing reviews that explained the comic’s transphobia and no one was talking. As soon as we demanded the book be pulled the conversation exploded. This chart Brett made illustrates the silence around Airboy until we made our demands. GLAAD has made it very clear: activism is key to creating change. They said:

“GLAAD is very grateful that the Rainbow Hub and Graphic Policy brought ‘Airboy’ #2 to our attention, and used their social media reach to spark an online discussion about the transphobia in the issue. GLAAD was happy to use our platform to boost their signal, and then to work with James Robinson to distribute his response.” – Nick Adams, Director of Programs for Transgender Media at GLAAD.

If you value politeness over creating change then you don’t really care about making change.  

As Katie Schenkel aka ‏@JustPlainTweets tweeted “People who care more about the idea and purity of ART than about marginalized people’s humanity being chipped away bum me the hell out.”

And From @sarahnmoon: ” If your gentleness is tone-policing and silencing anger, it’s not truly gentle because it doesn’t care about what others are hurt by”

Oh, and what of Image comics – who had their twitter icon wrapped in the rainbow flag while publishing a transphobic comic? Image is still silent. But they took down the flag….

To everyone who tried to change the conversation into a debate over censorship, I recommend Brett’s blog post that explains the difference between our demands and actual censorship (which we oppose). Meanwhile, you can buy two Image Comics that are trans positive right away: The Wicked + The Divine and the new Arclight. You should also buy Sophie Campbell and Kelly Thompson’s hilarious, youth-friendly and suspenseful Jem and the Holograms which has a trans character and is by a trans artist.

But using your comics buying dollars to support positive portrayals of trans people isn’t enough. We can’t just leave it at that. Not when comics are repeating dangerous tropes that their audience can’t even identify as a problem. Not when people are making money off of transphobia.

So yes, we took action. 

And no we don’t apologize. 

* Note on that Frederick Douglas quote: I’m not comparing what we’re doing to the scale of Frederick Douglas’s work. I use his quote to illustrate the point we are making and to show the theory behind activism.

For more on this story and comics media activism listen to our podcast from July 6th.

James Robinson Responds to and Apologizes About Airboy #2

Writer James Robinson has issued a statement through GLAAD regarding the controversial content of Airboy #2 published by Image Comics.

You can read the full statement below.

I thought long and hard before writing this response, with the time it’s taken me to do so I fear having been misinterpreted as indifference on my part to the ire this sequence has caused for some.  Often public figures just issue a quick apology, a snippet of contrition, in the hope that the light of scorn will then shine away from them.  But those apologies often feel inauthentic or meaningless, and I didn’t want to do that.

It was with much regret that I learned how I had angered and offended members of the transgender community with a sequence I wrote in the second issue of the Airboy mini-series I am currently doing.  As anyone who has read the first issue will know, this series is a semi-autobiographical piece of meta-fiction that shows me at a self-destructive and unhappy time in my life before I sobered up and entered a better place in both my work and the world as a whole.  To illustrate this, I portray myself and my artist Greg Hinkle as two blithe idiots pin-balling through a succession of stupid and self-destructive actions, doing and saying stupid and thoughtless things.  I intentionally portray myself in the worst light possible and as the worst kind of person.

Stepping outside of myself and the work, I can see how, while my intention when writing the scene was never to defame or harm the trans community, I did indeed fuck up and for that I sincerely apologize.

In my intention to create an ugly version of me and my world, I have inadvertently hurt and demeaned a community that the real non-fictionalized version of myself truly respects and admires.

It’s a sad and terrible fact that the transgender community is one that is often misunderstood and mocked.  And that honestly, truly, breaks my heart.  It is a beautiful community full of shining souls, which in a different work on a different day I would proudly show in all its variety and wonder.  Honestly, that is the truth.  Anyone who actually knows me, knows my feelings on such matters, and anyone who doesn’t will just have to take my word for it.

And yet here I am, in my eagerness to create a scenario that mocks my own moral worthlessness, I do no better than the worst kind of person, blindly marking the transgender community with the same sullying brush I chose to paint myself — instead of giving it the dignity and respect it deserves and is so very often denied.

This is a work of deliberately ugly satirical fiction.  One part of me believes a creator has the right to tell the story he feels the need to tell.  There’s a part of me that feels that it’s acceptable for a work of fiction to hurt or offend.  That at the very least the work elicits feelings.

Then there’s the other part of me — the major part, I might add — that is truly saddened that the transgender community, comprising men and women who carry the burden of an ever-hostile society, should have me adding to their load.

There is minor solace — very minor — in the fact that I note the discourse I’m seeing on-line about this, is at least allowing an exchange of views that I think is open, healthy and ultimately a good thing. I hope comic book fans and creators will think more critically about the way trans characters are portrayed.

I consider myself an ally to the LGBT community and I promise to work harder in the future to ensure that any trans stories or characters in my work are portrayed in an thoughtful and accepting way.

I know this response won’t satisfy everyone, but it comes from the heart.  I love all people.  I wanted this statement to convey my complete feelings on the matter.

The above does seem sincere, and hopefully this is a learning lesson for all.

Take Action: Image, Pull Airboy #2 from Shelves

Writer James Robinson has responded to the controversy and issued an apology.

take actionImage Comics‘ CEO Eric Stephenson himself highlighted the need for diversity in his 2014 Image Expo keynote chastising the industry for treating “gender equality and cultural issues as though they’re little more than gimmicks to increase sales.” Now’s the time to see if Image believes in the words their CEO stated. Airboy #2 finds writer James Robinson and artist Greg Hinkle’s comic versions of themsevles at a bar with Airboy, who has noticed the women around them, and taking a liking. What Airboy does not realize is that these women are transgender, though Robinson and Hinkle are well aware. As if dreamt up by a frat boy trying to be edgy and funny, the next scene involves Airboy in one stall and Hinkle in the other both receiving oral sex. Airboy explodes in anger over the fact that the woman he hooked up with was a “lady with a penis” after he was asked to reciprocate oral sex. A debate ensues about the “men” they hooked-up with, Airboy storming off complaining about the “degenerate” world. Without rehashing the numerous problems surrounding this issue, you can read Emma Houxboi’s take over at The Rainbow Hub and our own take here. This sums it up:

There’s no voice, no agency, no humanity to any of the trans women in this comic. Just an open mouth to fuck or a penis to gawk at.

Image, Robinson, and Hinkle’s Airboy #2 is transphobic and in an industry striving for inclusion and diversity the comic should not be afforded physical or digital shelf space. TAKE ACTION: We are currently running a campaign to have individuals post to Twitter with the hashtag #ImageExpo during today’s event run by the publisher which runs from 1pm ET/10am PT through the day to show support. Below is some suggested text.

One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives. It’s legal in every state, except California, to use “trans panic” as a defense after assaulting or murdering a transgender individual. There’s no reason to perpetuate myths about transwomen that endanger their lives. This is not a call for censorship. James Robinson and Greg Hinkle have a right to create whatever they’d like, and we have as much of a right to show our disdain for that. Speech doesn’t mean protection from consequences. Image has the right to exercise their speech and pull the comic, and actually show they believe in the words and beliefs they claim they uphold. After you are done Tweeting, please help spread the word.

Airboy Crashes and Burns with Transphobic Second Issue

Writer James Robinson has responded to the controversy and issued an apology.

Airboy02_CoverAirboy flew high and then crashed in just two issues. The series by James Robinson and artist Greg Hinkle is a meta take on reviving a golden age hero comic. Instead of just rebooting the character Airboy, Robinson and Hinkle have injected themselves into the story discussing their plan to revive the character and then meeting a “real” version of the character. Except these versions of Robinson and Hinkle are drug fueled ids bad mouthing other publishers and having no issues ingesting whatever drug they find, and having sex with whomever will let them.

The second issue finds Robinson and Hinkle at a bar with Airboy, who has noticed the women around them, and taking a liking. What Airboy does not realize is that these women are transgender, though Robinson and Hinkle are well aware. As if dreamt up by a frat boy trying to be edgy and funny, the next scene involves Airboy in one stall and Hinkle in the other both receiving oral sex. Airboy explodes in anger over the fact that the woman he hooked up with was a “lady with a penis” after he was asked to reciprocate oral sex. A debate ensues about the “men” they hooked-up with, Airboy storming off complaining about the “degenerate” world.

For those that might not understand what all of this is, there’s biological sex (think chromosomes and what the doctor announced upon your birth), gender (whether you identify as a man, a woman, both or neither) and orientation (who you’re attracted to). In this case while the women in the comic likely defined themselves as women, some of them have outwardly male looking genitalia (it’s drawn on panel).

The first issue is the reference to, and debate as if, these individuals are men. They are not. They identify as women, they are women. No ifs. No ands. No buts. Sex, gender, and orientation are three different things. So, to call them men is to belittle them, and deny them who they are. It is offensive. A women is not defined by what’s between her legs.

The next issue is as if the men were being “tricked” by men posing as women. First, transwomen are not guys, they are women, so even defining it as tricking is problematic. But, what is the obligation of one individual to inform the other? There are ethical questions about that and one that this sort of thinking sets a different standard for different types of individuals. Is it standard of hetero individuals to disclose every detail of their sex/gender/orientation before engaging in sexual acts? We know that’s not the case. I think Skepchick does an excellent job at addressing these issues, much better than I as a cis male could:

But this one goes a lot deeper, a lot nastier, a lot more demeaning, and a lot more dangerous.

Dangerous in that a great many trans women have lost their lives to sexual partners who felt they were “tricked”.

The concept of “deception” is a tricky one, and it can be very complicated to unpack the various ethical dimensions of disclosure and where a trans person’s responsibility lies in terms of informing her partner. That’s far too big a subject to tackle here, but Zinnia Jones provides a fantastic explanation in this YouTube video. I’d just like to say that I really don’t think it’s our responsibility to give you the opportunity to inflict your bigotry and hang-ups on us; it’s your responsibility to ask (if it’s that big a deal to you). And if a woman was attractive to you one moment and a repulsive, lying whore the next, when all that has changed is that you now know a largely irrelevant detail of her history, the problem is with your perceptions, not her body.

The problematic implications of us being “traps” are a bit too numerous to name them all. A few that come to mind are the basic assumption that we’re “really” men, believing that our decisions all revolve around you and we’re doing this for your sake, not our own (kind of like the earlier example about how men may interpret how a woman dresses), the issues of conflating gender expression with sexual motivations, the concept that femaleness and femininity are artifice and fake, etc.

But I guess the one that I’d most like to unpack is how, like the thoroughly debunked theory of “autogynophilia”, it looks at trans women’s sexuality and motives through a lens of male sexuality and motives. A hypothetical cis male sits on his couch and is absent-mindedly flipping through a porn magazine. He comes across an ad for “shemale” porn. He wonders, “why would anyone ever do that? Why would a man want to become a woman? That’s crazy!” (yeah, let’s put aside the implicit misogyny there… we can talk about that some other time) and rather than think about it in terms of why a woman would want a female body and not a male one, he thinks about it in terms of why a man would want a female body. The conclusions he draws, based upon the assumption that a man is fundamentally a sexual agent and a woman is fundamentally a sexual object, are that the “shemale” is doing it to get laid, to attract men to him with his new hot, curvy, sexual-object of a body. Either that or, as in “autogynophilia”, doing it to have himself as his very own personal sex object.

Never mind what happens to a trans woman’s libido during HRT. Never mind that for very many trans women, that period of time, exactly when the libido starts diminishing, happens to be when commitment often deepens, and any remaining doubts and questions are resolved. Forget that. It MUST be about sex. Because that’s all the female body is good for: sex.

Right?

But here’s an easier way to sum it up. There’s no conspiracy among transwomen to “trick straight men” because, guess what guys? It’s not all about us. Transwomen want dignity and to be treated and accepted as the women as they are. Not to be a sexual object in a joke or fetish.

The issue’s humor relies on stereotypes. While I thought the first issue toed the line, sticking to jokes about the creators themselves, this issue now turns the jokes towards individuals who already face a difficult road when it comes to acceptance. This report by GLAAD lays out many issues transgender people face such as employment, housing, and education discrimination. Protections that are sometimes afforded to gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals are not extended to those who identify as transgender. As reported by Vocativ “41 percent of trans or gender non-conforming people surveyed have attempted suicide.” compared to “4.6 percent of the overall U.S. population.” The Office for Victims of Crime has more sobering facts like “One in two transgender individuals are sexually abused or assaulted at some point in their lives.”

While the creators of Airboy might have thought this was a simple joke, the reality is no joke. There are other ways they could have found to shock their character about the modern world. There is no reason to repeat dangerous myths to do it.

Our friend (and frequent guest on our radio show) Emma has a fantastic take over on The Rainbow Hub with these two poignant comments.

There’s no voice, no agency, no humanity to any of the trans women in this comic. Just an open mouth to fuck or a penis to gawk at.

It’s legal in every state, except California, to murder a trans woman for being surprised by her genitals by citing “trans panic” as a defence in court. Yet, somehow, Robinson and Hinkle think that this is something to laugh about and Image Comics thinks it’s worthy of printing. I deserve better. We all deserve better. It’s a shame that Image Comics, with all of their rainbow-colored boasting, fails to agree that we deserve this basic level of decency and dignity.

History is Written by the Winners of the Marvel No-Prize

Guest commentary post from Emma Houxbois. Emma is a queer blogger for hire out of Vancouver, BC most recently attached to Girls Read Comics. You can follow her on Twitter @emmahouxbois.

no-prizeThe thing about history is that you’ve got to be really careful who you let write it. Herodotus, the guy widely acknowledged as the inventor of western history writing was known as both “The Father of History” and “The Father of Lies,” in his lifetime, and one of the reasons for that was that he never really made any kind of an effort to judge the credibility of the people he was collecting history from. It’s widely believed that he skewed towards the empowered members of society, meaning that the saying “history is written by the winners” is as old as history itself. This past week in comics, we got the rude awakening that it’s history is currently being written by the winners of the Marvel No-Prize.

For reasons unknown to anyone with a lick of sense, a panel consisting of Todd McFarlane, Len Wein, and Gerry Conway were assembled to publicize a forthcoming PBS documentary about superhero comics. While already dubious choices compared to more genuinely influential and knowledgeable prospects like Trina Robbins, Mark Waid, Karen Berger, or that mysterious Twitter account claiming to be Steranko, the trio put on an astounding display of jamming their entire legs up to the knee down their own throats. Todd McFarlane, creator of one of the best selling black superheroes in history, seems to believe that increasing diversity in comics will only lead to tokenism. Of course in 2006, when Robert Kirkman crashed McFarlane’s panel at the SDCCI, the Spawn creator had no idea who he was until he was informed by another panel member that Kirkman was “the guy who writes that zombie comic you like,” a comic published by McFarlane’s own Image Comics at the time. McFarlane also went on, during the same incident, to say in defense of having not done anything significant in comics since Spawn that “once you’ve created your Mickey Mouse or your Donald Duck, you don’t really have to do anything else.” So it isn’t as if McFarlane’s complete indifference to anything in comics that isn’t related to his personal legacy is a closely guarded secret or new information. Nor is it that he’s a noted hypocrite after having lost a lengthy legal action by Neil Gaiman to regain control of the characters he contributed to Spawn after years of McFarlane crowing about how the founding of Image was a victory for creator’s rights in the industry.

Gerry Conway was adamant that superheroes are strictly for men and boys, using a bizarre self defeating anecdote about his daughter’s disinterest in “guy stories,” mentioning Faith Erin Hicks who writes The Adventures of Superhero Girl. Of course Conway is responsible for the two most exploited fridgings in Marvel history, if not superhero comics as a whole; The Punisher’s self justification for his antics based on the death of his wife and child as well as the death of Gwen Stacy. If Conway’s own daughter is disinterested in what he calls “guy stories” and McFarlane wouldn’t use superheroes if he wanted to write a story catering to his own daughters, it has to be noted that Conway’s body of work is one of the chief culprits in disillusioning potential female readers. Of course Len Wein is the real elephant in the room, given that Alan Moore disclosed in 2006 when he approached Wein for permission to cripple Barbara Gordon in The Killing Joke, Wein told him “Yeah, okay, cripple the bitch.” Inviting Len Wein or Gerry Conway to talk about gender in comics is basically like asking Don Imus to talk about racism in sports.

At around the same time that this nonsense was unfolding, a beautiful and moving thing that happened in Japan was being circulated by Sailor Moon fans on Tumblr. The second live event detailing the festivities for the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon and the forthcoming series was being translated, capped, and analyzed by the fervent western fans of the pop culture juggernaut. However, instead of updates on the timeline for the new series, what dominated the fan discourse were the statements by the director of the 2013 edition of the live action stage show, whose cast is entirely female. By way of explanation, he related that his understanding of Naoko Takeuchi’s manga was that it was written by women for women and so it was only natural to put on the show using only women. Not satisfied with those bold and endearing statements, he went on to say “I feel like Takeuchi Naoko’s work flew in the face of the atmosphere at the time. It said ‘women are strong, there’s nothing wrong with being strong and we should be stronger’ and as a result in these twenty years, women have become stronger in our society. That part of her work has everlasting value and I feel like now we should remind society again of the same message.” While I’m not sure that twenty years of gains for women in Japanese society can be chalked up entirely to the influence of Sailor Moon, it is heartening to hear, especially from a man in this context, the fervent belief that comics can in fact inspire positive social change. It isn’t hard to see that same belief among the western fans, as it’s an unmistakable fact that a large segment of young women active in fighting for representation in western comics are Sailor Moon fans, and the most ardent supporters of Sailor Moon are staunch feminists. Sailor Moon also continues to deeply influence female creators to this day, most notably Adventure Time contributor and Bee and Puppycat creator Natasha Allegri, whose genderbent world of Fionna and Cake rests on Sailor Moon as it’s foundation from the rabbit ears on her hat to her feline companion and even her formal gown patterned after the future Silver Millennium version of Usagi.

That Conway feels comics follow instead of lead culture is no actual reflection on the real state of the world’s last living mythology, it’s a reflection on three men who never pushed themselves or their work to a level beyond what could be most comfortably and easily sold. None of them put their careers on the line with bold statements like Dwayne McDuffie’s infamous Teenage Negro Ninja Thrashers memo or created entire critical frameworks for discussing women’s place in popular fiction like Gail Simone’s Women in the Refrigerator polemic or Alison Bechdel‘s eponymous test. It also really begs the question if any of them are aware that Captain America punched Hitler a full year before the United States entered World War II. In every decade that superhero comics have existed, they’ve lead culture. In a landscape where Orange is the New Black’s Laverne Cox, (directed by Jodie Foster in the episode revolving around her character), is making headlines and shattering the long history of cis actors being cast as trans* people, comics are leading culture. Matt Fraction is currently surfing the crest of the wave of positive portrayals of trans* people in a team book that is three quarters female. Gail Simone is poised alongside him selling out her Batgirl title in which Babs’ roommate is a trans woman. The critical importance of all three narratives cannot be underscored any stronger than by Chloe Sevigny’s current shameful behavior wearing a prosthetic penis to portray a trans woman and throwing around slurs that demean real trans women behind the scenes. Which is just one singular issue, one singular anecdote in a sea of progressive storytelling in comics that has taken the lead on issues as diverse as addiction, sex work, homophobia, racism, sexism, and domestic violence to name a few. The true history of comics isn’t a soulless echo chamber of privileged men writing exclusionist power fantasies for each other. The true history of comics is as queer and beautiful as it is ugly and heartbreaking, when it’s told by people who actually participated in and benefited from it’s queerness and beauty. Sadly many including Will Eisner, Jack Kirby, and Dwayne McDuffie have passed away but there do remain several other creators and commentators who, if given the chance, would gladly sing the praises of those and other trailblazers.

Why I Stood Up to a Bully

This Thursday, shit hit the fan as an online firestorm erupted over a retailer’s online bullying of a transgender comic book creator. I wrote the post about the issue, the “vindictive blog” in Larry’s own words. The reason I wrote the blog post was simple, a self-described leader of the comic book industry was cyber bullying someone online, and doing so with language that borders on hate speech. It’s ironic that this almost occurred on Spirit Day, when people are encouraged to show their support for the lgbt community.

I wrote the post because it’s the right thing to do. In my day job, I work in politics and one of the things I work on is getting better anti-cyber bullying laws on the books in states. It’s not easy and I’ll be the first to admit, it’s a difficult thing to do, balancing first amendment rights to free speech. But, much like in the current battle of Gawker vs. Reddit, free speech comes with a price. Larry has every right to be a “dick” (his own words) online, but I have every right to call him out for it. Furthermore, if he does want to take a leadership role in the comic book industry, he needs to act the part. Between this incident, and an earlier one, it seems lessons are not learned.

But, this particular issue bothered me. While I am not gay or transgender, I have many friends who are and working in the liberal/progressive political sphere I’m well aware of the abuse these individuals go through in their lives. Statistics are under-reported, but gay, lesbian and transgender people are more likely to be abused, assaulted or even murdered and these are hate crimes. Some think transgender individuals face a 1 in 12 chance of being murdered, though that number is in dispute. The Human Rights Campaign in their report shows that the actual numbers are disproportionate to other populations as well as under-reported or reported incorrectly. The TVT Project reports that 800 transgender people were murdered in the last four years. And here in Washington, DC where I live, there’s been a rash of assaults and murders of transgender individuals. Those statistics should get you to take notice and even the slightest intolerance should be called out for what it is.

And that brings us to the above two tweets by Larry Doherty. In Larry’s mind, his comments towards the transgender comic creator are the equivalent of the normal drivel he spews — hate and dislike towards sports teams or vitriol towards comic book publishers with which he disagrees in the direction they’re going or comics they’re publishing. Well, there is a difference. Last I checked, the bullying against corporations wasn’t resulting in real world violence or even death. Last I checked, corporations were not human beings. Human beings who deserve to be treated with respect. The same respect you, yourself, demand and expect.

Larry wants people to not be “sheep” and accept what’s fed down their throats by comic publishers. Well, here’s me not being a sheep. You Larry, are a bully. You’re not the shock jock you think you are, you’re a bully, plain and simple. Until you realize that and treat others with the respect they deserve, I will keep a watchful eye over you. This is the same I’d do for anyone in the comic book industry who posted similarly insane tweets and rants. This is a notice, not just Larry, but to all. The misogyny, the bigotry, the racism needs to stop in this industry.

There’s irony here. I’m not sure if your experience was like mine, but my interest in comic books, video games and Magic cards put me on the outside of the cool kids. I was one of the geeks. I was excluded and picked on. My interests were looked down upon and are even today as an adult. Now I have a platform, and judging by the reaction to my previous article, I can do some good here. Many of you agree with me and I hope we all can be more vocal. We have no right to exclude anyone from our hobby. To make them go through what many of us went through growing up. To do so is hypocrisy. To do so is to become the bullies we faced as kids.

I do believe the vast majority of the comic book readers are inclusive, and welcoming and like to share their hobby with others. It’s unfortunate there’s a vocal minority who have to drive solid voices away from the discussion. I think it’s all of our duty to call them out for it. I think you can consider this notice.

Updated: Larry Doherty and Larry’s Comics at it Again. This Time Hate Speech Towards Transgender People.

What started as a friendly discussion on Twitter about digital versus print comics quickly devolved into a string of hate speech and Trans Bashing between the owner of Larry’s Comics, Larry Doherty, and Christian Beranek, a self described “Comic book writer, geek girl and rocker.” The discussion started in a friendly nature.

But quickly devolved from there.

The issue with Larry’s response is the word “sir.” Christian is transgender. Meaning she identifies herself and lives day to day as female. So, you can see how the word “sir” might make one uncomfortable and is insulting and degrading. In fact Christian politely asks Larry to stop using the term.

But, Larry being the agitator he is, continues.

And…And…

And the insensitivity continued…

This is Trans Bashing and Cyber Bullying, no other way to put it. Larry was aware of Christian being transgender and continued to use the words “sir,” “dude,” “man” and “fellow” when referring to her. All terms belittling Christian. But, this isn’t the first time this behavior has come from Larry. In 2011, he also made insensitive racist jokes about the new Ultimate Spider-Man before the character was introduced and just rumored to be black.

This is the latest example of a comic book industry struggling with inclusion, whether that’s race, gender, sexual orientation, religion or gender roles. Mandy Curuso took to the internet to describe the harassment she experienced this past weekend at New York Comic Con. She described it as her “first truly skeezy experience at Comic Con.” And that’s the thing, this is a minority that’s causing these issues. The majority of fans are inclusive and welcoming and like sharing the hobby and entertainment they enjoy with others.

Unfortunately, incidents like this or what Mandy experienced don’t result in repercussions. The film crew Mandy dealt with will still get press passes and Larry will still have his ass kissed by publishers and creators who overlook his behavior that gives a black eye to the industry. When will we all say enough is enough?

Christian was kind enough to respond to my inquiries and provided the following quote about the incident:

Brett, I’ve been following Larry on twitter for awhile now. I appreciate his viewpoint as a retailer dealing with an ever-changing industry in which digital is becoming more and more important. Last night I made an admittedly cheeky comment about webcomics in response to a post about Marvel. It was meant to get a discussion going and it did. Larry is very passionate about print comics and often makes condescending remarks towards those of us who work in digital. Usually it rolls off but last night he called me ‘Sir’. I let pronoun misuse slide because I understand people are still getting used to me living as a female. I always ask the person to please make an effort to correct themselves and most times people are pretty cool about it. Last night Larry was not so cool.

Larry points out that print comic sales are rising. I think that’s great for the Big 2 and others benefiting from it. But there are loads of us who are working hard to tell different types of stories in different ways. Many of the people who make comics online have never even been to a comic book convention let alone a comic book shop. Many feel they are hostile environments. I think the “Boy’s Club” mentality of comics holds us back in a lot of ways. To be fair those who act this way are in the minority but they are extremely vocal and many of them hold positions of power.

I think manners and common courtesy go a long way. I’m not trying to censor anyone’s thoughts, I just think we’d have a much more pleasant and thriving community if we considered the lifestyles, backgrounds and viewpoints of other people.

Just take a moment and listen from time to time. People will surprise you and many times you’ll learn something new. Heck, Larry and others like him might even increase their business further because of it.

Thank you for the opportunity to have a say on this matter.

I would have reached out to Larry for a comment on the matter, but he’s had me blocked on Twitter for my opinions for well over a year.

Update: After numerous hours Larry has issued an “apology.” I have my opinion, but I leave it to you, the readers, to decide how truly heartfelt it is. And thanks for the shout out as the “vindictive blog” Larry and thanks for the traffic! *hugs*

Update 2: It seems Larry clearly doesn’t understand why this was an issue, deciding to make a joke about it all.

No Larry, it’s not the same thing, but thanks for showing us you can not learn a lesson and move on.