Trans webcomic author Sophie Labelle to tour the US for the first time

One of Sophie Labelle's Assigned Male drawings

Canadian webcomic artist Sophie Labelle is touring the United States for the first time this month. Labelle is the creator of the popular Assigned Male comics, about a young trans girl navigating the world.

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Her first stop is in New York City. She’ll be giving a talk at the LGBT Center in the West Village.

‘I’ve done tours in many regions of the world, but never felt safe enough to go to the USA, even though it’s where I have the most fans,’ Labelle told GSN via email.

Online harassment

Last year, Labelle’s website was hacked by alt-right trolls. The hackers orchestrated this attack, deleting all her comics and replacing them with Nazi imagery. She was also sent death threats and was forced to go into hiding until the abuse died down.

‘The country has a very bad reputation outside its borders,’ Labelle continued. ‘I guess I was waiting for the political situation to be less intense, but seeing how it’s not really happening, I decide to come anyway, since I believe it’s in these troubled times that marginalized populations need support the most.’

Despite the brutal harassment, Labelle has not put her work on pause. In December 2017, she released coloring books based on the Assigned Male series.

Organizing the Tour

‘The way I organize this tour is by putting a message on my Facebook and Tumblr pages, saying I would be around if any group is interested in having me,’ Labelle stated.

‘I simply go wherever I’m invited, might it be a small college in rural Florida or a major LGBT association in San Francisco. I don’t have any agent or manager, so I can’t really organize anything by myself, even if that means skipping some major city where I didn’t get any invitation from.’

Stops on the Tour

In addition to NYC, Labelle will be traveling to Washington State and New Mexico, where she has friends. Despite being openly LGBTI, Labelle is looking forward to visiting Southern states, such as Alabama and Georgia.

Other confirmed tour stops include New Jersey, Connecticut, and Maine.

‘During [the] tour, I hope to meet as many fans as possible. It’s really what’s at the core of it. I’m volunteering for all of it, so for me, a webcomic artist, it’s only just a great opportunity to connect with my readers,’ Labelle said.

Bishop who groped Ariana Grande at Aretha Franklin’s funeral apologizes

Ariana grande and bishop ellis stand behind a lectern, ellis hold a microphone looking down at grande with his arm around her. grande is pulling away from him and looks very uncomfortable

Pop icon Ariana Grande was inappropriately fondled on stage in front of a live television of millions during Aretha Franklin’s funeral

Grande was one of many artists who performed during the soul singer’s five hour funeral. Franklin died on August 16 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.

Bishop Charles H. Ellis III led Franklin’s funeral and after Grande performed a moving rendition (You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman, he awkwardly dragged her to the lectern.

Ellis then placed his arm around her with his hand digging into the side of her chest. Grande looked visibly uncomfortable throughout the exchange and ran off stage after it happened.

The Bishop also made a joke about Grande’s name saying he thought it was new item on Mexican chain restaurant, Taco Bell’s menu.

Sexual assault claims

After the incident people were outraged at the Bishop’s behavior, saying he sexually assaulted Grande who didn’t have much choice in fighting him off.

‘I don’t have the words to express my infuriation. This man should be charged with assault,’ wrote Qasim Rashid on Twitter.

Rashid continued: ‘Men: This is sexual abuse. If you brush it off as no big deal as it happens this publicly, you’re part of the problem that enables it to happen behind closed doors.’

Some people on social media argued that Grande’s dress was too short and that attracted the Bishop. But other quickly shut down the argument saying women shouldn’t be victim blamed or sexually assaulted regardless of what they’re wearing.

‘The fact that a woman was disrespected multiple times on live television by men who are in positions of power blows my mind. Just imagine what happens behind closed doors. This was totally inappropriate, a short dress is NOT an invitation,’ wrote one Twitter user.

Bishop apologizes

After the backlash, Ellis apologized to Grande in an interview with the Associated Press.

‘It would never be my intention to touch any woman’s breast. … I don’t know I guess I put my arm around her,’ Ellis said.

‘Maybe I crossed the border, maybe I was too friendly or familiar but again, I apologize.’

Ellis then argued that he hugged all the performers during Friday’s eight-hour service.

‘I hug all the female artists and the male artists,’ he said.

‘Everybody that was up, I shook their hands and hugged them. That’s what we are all about in the church. We are all about love.’

Twitter reacts:

Amazon’s new show Jack Ryan uses transphobic slur and people are mad

a promotional shot of jack ryan. john krasinski stands looking over his shoulder with a determined look on his face there is an explosion happening behind him

A hugely anticipated new show on Amazon Prime has come under fire for using a transphobic slur just hours after its release.

Starring The Office’s (US) John Krasinki, Jack Ryan, tells the story of said CIA analyst. Ryan tracks a group of potential terrorists who they believe to be the ‘next Osama Bin Laden’.

The hunt for the terrorists is seen from many different perspectives including that of soldier Victor Polizzi. The soldier has become disillusioned with his role as missile launcher for US drones.

After a drunken night where he ends up assaulted and with a black eye, his colleague turns to ask him about it.

‘Did you accidentally pick up another tranny on Fremont St?’ his colleague asks. To which Polizzi replies with an adamant ‘no’.

Transphobia is never ok

The outcry came quickly on social media. Many Twitter users pointed out the offensive comment came just a day after two more trans women were murdered in the US. So far, 18 trans women have been murdered in 2018, 13 of which are women of color.

Eliel Cruz is the director of communications director at the Anti Violence Project (AVP). The AVP is an organization which works. to end violence against LGBTQ and HIV-affected communities.

He  told Gay Star News that ‘when we trivialize the violence trans women face, both in our language and in dismissing the realities of hate and pick up violence, we contribute to, and perpetuate, that violence’.

Cruz added: ‘While the reality is that cisgender people use trans slurs and pick up violence affects trans women, Jack Ryan had an opportunity to confront this reality with a teachable moment.’

‘Instead, writers decided to affirm the idea that there is something shameful about cisgender men being with a trans woman or that trans women are actually men.

‘This throwaway ‘joke’ is harmful in that it contributes to this culture of violence against trans people, especially trans women.’

Many people agreed and took to Twitter to show their disgust, with some vowing to either not watch the show or cancel their Amazon Prime subscription altogether.

Here are some of their reactions:

Gay Star News has reached out to Amazon for comment.