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.

The murder of two trans women in the US makes it 18 murders so far in 2018

two photos of two african american trans women

The 18th trans woman was murdered in the United States this year following the two murders of trans women this week. Of the 18 murders in 2018, 18 of the victims were African American with nine victims aged under 30 years.

The murdered women this week were Vontashia Bell, 18, in Shreveport, Louisiana and Dejanay Stanton, 24, in Chicago.

Passersby found Stanton’s dead body in an alleyway in Chicago’s South Side on 30 August. Police said she had a gun shot wound to the head.

‘Every time you saw her she had a smile on her face. She was just trying to live her best life as a young girl,’ activist LaSaia Wade, executive director of Brave Space Alliance, told the Windy City Times.

They cannot die in vain

Their murders have left their communities and trans people shocked. Trans groups vowed to make sure the women did not ‘die in vain’.

The Lousiana Trans Advocates group the community should mourned Bell. But, ‘we must double down our efforts to ensure that all trans people across the state have access to jobs, education, housing, and safe neighborhoods’.

‘Violence against trans people, particularly against trans women, is a plague that continues to affect our cities and communities across the state.  City and state leadership must work together with the trans community to curb this violence,’ LTA said in a statement.

‘Vontashia Bell must not die in vain.

‘Her murder is a reminder of the current climate and national discourse on trans issues. Dehumanizing language and actions lower the barriers to this kind of senseless violence.

‘Shreveport and Louisiana leaders must speak out against these killings, against the ongoing, systemic devaluation of trans people that pervades our media and politics, and against the institutional racism that places almost all of this burden on trans women of color.’



Malaysian rights activist rebukes Deputy PM over LGBTI ‘haram’ comments

Marina Mahatir

Malaysian rights activist Marina Mahathir has criticised the country’s Deputy Prime Minister Wan Azizah Wan Ismail over her comments saying that LGBTI rights should be considered haram (forbidden) in Malaysia.

Marina is a well-known rights campaigner and supporter of LGBTI rights in Malaysia.

She is also the daughter of Malaysia’s prime minister, Mahathir Mohamed.

In response to the comments by Wan Azizah, Marina tweeted, ‘Dear @drwanazizah, did you just call a lot of people including me who have shown the slightest bit of compassion towards marginalized people in our society haram??’

Earlier this week Wan Azizah said that it was haram for Muslims to support the LGBTI community and LGBTI rights in the Muslim-majority country.

‘Most important this, for us, as a Muslim, it is haram… I do not condone it,’ Wan Azizah told local radio station, BFM.

‘Respect people who are different’

Marina also tweeted an article by the Nikkei Asia Review with a quote from Wan Azizah’s husband and prime minister-in-waiting, Anwar Ibrahim.

‘Malaysian society, he said, must live with different beliefs and ways of life and must respect people who are different, including gays, bisexuals and those who identify as transgender,’ Anwar is quoted as saying. Marina wrote at the end of this tweet ‘How now ⁦@drwanazizah⁩?’

Ongoing saga

Disputes over LGBTI rights in Malaysia have courted numerous headlines in recent weeks.

Last month, portraits of two LGBTI activists carrying the Malaysian national flag were removed from a popular arts festival under the orders of the religious affairs minister.

This caused an instant backlash from LGBTI rights campaigners and members of the arts community, some of whom (including Marina) asked for their portraits to also be removed in a show of solidarity.

The removal of the activists’ portraits also set off a war of words between rights campaigners and Islamic leaders.

In August, Wan Azizah also made headlines when discussing LGBTI rights in Malaysia by saying the LGBTI community should be tolerated, as long as LGBTI ‘practices’ were kept behind closed doors. She also discussed the Malaysian statute banning homosexuality, Section 377A, a remnant of the British colonial era law.

Wan Azizah’s husband, Anwar, has been charged and sentenced twice for sodomy under Section 377A while he was an opposition politician. He has always maintained his innocence, and said his imprisonment was due to persecution by political rivals in the former government.