The Tao of Wu: How A Comic About A Transgender Woman Can Help Unite Us

See that adorable F***ing face? THAT is the face of peace and understanding.
Source: Twitter @kyliesummerwu

Very recently, one of my friends introduced me to the art and comedy of Kylie Wu – a young and proud transgender woman who creates the endlessly delightful comic series Trans Girl Next Door. After reading just a few pages, I was immediately hooked and I’ve been checking Twitter and Tumblr routinely awaiting the next installment.

Of course, being the dorky mega-brain I am, I had to set out on a quest to answer WHY I loved this silly little sequential art autobiography so much. The answer I got was surprisingly soothing.

I’m of the professional opinion that good art should leave you different from when it found you; even if that difference is just reminding you that you aren’t alone in the world. And wouldn’t you know it, it’s shockingly easy to identify and empathize with Kylie (or at least the parts of her she shares with us… which is still substantial).

As someone who has lived part of her life as a man and is living her current life as a woman, Kylie’s fearless sharing provides insight -not only on life as a transgender person – but also on life for cisgender men and women. That insight being that we all aren’t as different as we like to think we are.

We all have bodily insecurities. We all have romantic desires. And let’s not forget the old standby: everybody poops.

Also, even on an individual level, you’ll likely find some life story of Kylie’s that speaks to you. Guys, how often have you endured the pain of sitting on your own sack? And remember the sticky, smelly mess of hormones that is puberty?

And ladies, I know through my mom that finding the right shampoo is a glorious feeling and my roommate has demonstrated the fury-inspiring challenge of painting your toenails.

Even just speaking personally, I find Kylie’s work to speak to my own life experiences. As someone who indulges in body grooming (to the chagrin of whoever’s bathroom I’m sharing), the feeling of freshly smooth skin is amazing. Also, I’m asexual and don’t use my testicles for their biological purpose. So why not keep them for the darkly comedic purpose of an emergency food supply (alternately, I’ve thought of selling them to that phallic museum in Iceland to pay off my loans).

So, what lesson am I trying to impart on you, dear Field Operatives? Well, other than trying to help out an artist in need (seriously, give this girl a dollar and/or buy her S***; good art is hard to come by and HRT don’t come cheap) I’m hoping that people will read this, read TGND, and learn to stop judging based on our genders, sexualities and the like and start judging based on the content of our character.

We may all be structurally different, but we are all human and kin on a fundamental level. And the fact that a cisgender man-child from the gray mountains of New Hampshire can feel a sense of comradery with a transgender surfer girl from the sunny coasts of California gives me hope that the world might just be relaxing its hopelessly tight butthole and becoming a pleasant place to live.

Advertisements

A Positive Message In An Unlikely Place (or “The Kinks’ Lola Was Surprisingly Progressive”)

Let’s be honest; I don’t often have nice things to say about my day job. It’s to be expected as custodial life is naturally unrewarding in most cases. But there are some perks. The overnight shift is peacefully quiet for the most part, the few people I meet seem to respect how crappy (no pun intended) the job is, and I could be making far worse money elsewhere doing the same work.

My favorite part of the job though has to be the Classic Rock station that the radio is tuned into all day. I don’t know what station it is – likely a satellite station, but they often play stuff from my favorite artists of yesteryear that I’ve either never heard before or had completely forgotten about along with their more well-known works.

While I was working one night, I noticed how the station seems to favor certain artists. I noted that The Kinks played oddly often specifically. This got me to thinking about one of my then guilty pleasures in music – their hit single Lola.

You can probably guess why it was a guilty pleasure for me. As someone who is staunchly Pro-LGBT, it makes me look like a hypocrite to be listening to and enjoying a song that plays the romance of a transgender woman for laughs. But the more I thought about it, the more I started to realize that I shouldn’t be feeling bad for liking this song.

Let’s break down the events of the story in the song. Our protagonist, a virginal man that just left home a week prior to the events of the song, is eager to start playing the field and find the woman of his dreams – common behavior for a hormonal youth sans parental supervision.

While in a nightclub in Soho, a district of London, England known for it’s active sex industry, he comes across the titular Lola and becomes attracted to her; his youthful ignorance causing him to miss signs that she is transgender such as her deeper voice (“I asked her name and in a dark brown voice she said, ‘Lola’.”), typically masculine strength (“Well, I’m not the world’s most physical guy, / But when she squeezed me tight she nearly broke my spine.”), and odd mannerisms (“Well, I’m not dumb but I can’t understand / Why she walk like a woman and talk like a man.”).

At this point, it seems like this is going to be a groaner of a bad and insensitive joke from people that clearly don’t get transgender culture or politics. However, it’s near the end of the song that things change drastically.

After a night of drinking and dancing, the two agree to cap off the night at Lola’s place. It’s there that our storyteller learns the truth, panics, and trips as he makes a run for the door. But, as he looks up from the floor and has a moment to process everything, he realizes that he still has feelings for her and can’t bring himself to ditch her (“Well that’s the way that I want it to stay. / And I always want it to be that way for my Lola.”).

He then understands the irony of his situation – in a chaotic world where so many of us are trying to discover or rediscover ourselves, a woman whose identity would bewilder most others is the only one who’s sure of what they are and want to be (“Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls. / It’s a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world, / Except for Lola.”)

That’s right; by the end of the night, our hero stays with Lola, finds new respect for the girl he just met, and discovers himself in the process (“Well I’m not the world’s most masculine man, / But I know what I am and I’m glad I’m a man, / And so is Lola.”)

I put it to you, Field Operatives, that The Kinks’ Lola should not be viewed as a guilty pleasure, but as a shockingly forward-thinking and progressive story about love, enlightenment, and treating your fellow men, women, and those of unspecified genders with respect.

Now then, what’s YOUR excuse, Aerosmith?