Drawing Gender: Comics-Based Research in Childhood

Sally Campbell Galman (University of Massachusetts Amherst)

This paper details the process and problematics of writing and drawing an ethnographic comic about a group of transgender and other gender diverse girls and their negotiation of self as they grow into and navigate childhood and experience puberty. This piece of comics-based research (CBR) is based on eight years of ethnographic study in the field. While the book is entirely hand-drawn and hand-lettered, comics are equal parts asset and problem: so much of how cisgender parents relate to gender diverse daughters hinges on a question of “passing” and binarism and of a “girlhood” tied to archaic structures. A realistic assessment of these things and the ethnographic imperative to disguise research participants made this difficult and raised the question of how artist-ethnographers can tell a graphic story about gender fluidity that is both critical and accommodating.

Part of V1-04 Growing in the Gutter: Comics, Culture, and Vernacular Narrative Art, Wednesday, October 11, 1:00 pm–3:00 pm