FlameCon’s ‘Transgender Themes In Geek Culture’ Panel

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I attended (and loved) NYC’s first LGBTQ Comic Con, FlameCon! It took place during Pride Month on June 13th at the fancy Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. Geeks OUT presented the con, which is a NYC based nonprofit dedicated to building a better community for LGBTQ geeks. For more about FlameCon read my recap and check out the amazing cosplay.

My favorite panel at Flamecon was Secret Identities: Transgender Themes In Geek Culture. It was moderated by Charles Battersby (Astonishing Adventures) and the panelist included Jennie Wood (Flutter), Lawrence Gullo (Baritaria), P. Kristen Enos (Web of Lives) and Marguerite Bennett (DC Comics, Marvel and Boom).

Transgender Narrative

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Art by Lawrence Gullo

Transgender narrative was a big part of the discussion. It’s to no surprise that the further a character is from being heterosexual, cisgender and white, the more they are misrepresented… if they are represented at all. A common and inaccurate transgender narrative is, “I am a man, what if I wanted to be a woman?” Lawrence Gullo suggested the following narrative instead, “I am a woman, what if no one believed me and I had to prove it to people my entire life.”

Sci-Fi & Gender

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Science Fiction is known to use aliens and androids as representations of LGBTQIA people instead of actual humans. This not only suggests that the creator views those groups as “The Other,” either subconsciously or consciously, but it also reinforces negative stereotypes about LGBTQIA people. Gullo suggests a way to combat this as a SF creator is to make humans LGBTQIA and gender fluid as well, not just the aliens.

Creators should also stop assigning gender to androids, especially self-aware ones. When you really think about it, it’s completely unnecessary, inaccurate and almost always reinforces gender stereotypes. Assuming that AI would have the same gender notions as humans is more than presumptuous, it’s pretty egotistical.

Positive Trans Media

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

Connie, Stevonnie and Steven from Steven Universe fan art by Kowskie

The panel wasn’t only about the negative media representations of trans people. Steven Universe, Dragon Age: Inquisitions, and Saints Row 3 were all praised for being positive trans media.

  • Dragon Age: Inquisitions ran their script for a transgender character, Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi, by trans people and changed it based off their input.
  • Gullo shared an anecdote about his transgender friend who cried when she saw Stevonnie in Steven Universe because she identified with them. Although Stevonnie doesn’t have a gender and Garnet described their fusion as “a conversation”, the character has resonated strongly with genderfluid and trans people. 
  • In Saints Row 3, you can have a male voice actor for a female body and even go to a surgeon and change your sex at any point in the game. It’s completely up to the player.

When In Doubt, Ask

Dragon Age Inquisitions's Cremisius "Krem" Acclasi

Dragon Age Inquisitions’s Cremisius “Krem” Acclasi

Some advice if you’re a cisgender creator nervous about inadvertently misrepresenting a transgender character: When in doubt, ask. It isn’t a creator’s responsibility to make their work diverse, but it is responsible. Jennie Wood summed it up best, “We just want to see ourselves.”

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Flamecon – NYC’s First LGBTQ Comic Con

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I was beyond excited to attend NYC’s first LGBTQ Comic Con, FlameCon! It took place during Pride Month on June 13th at the fancy Grand Prospect Hall in Brooklyn. Geeks OUT presented the con, which is a NYC based nonprofit dedicated to building a better community for LGBTQ geeks.

True Gender Equality

FlameCon had preferred pronoun stickers for attendees to wear which included “Ask Me” and “Them/Their/They”. They also had gender neutral bathrooms. Just two simple additions to a comic con made the 2,200 attendees feel comfortable and welcome.

The Happiest Con

FlameCon is the happiest comic con I’ve ever attended. This all happened because of one simple, but important word, respect. Attendees felt free to be their geeky selves without fear of harassment because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Cosplay

There was A LOT of Steven Universe cosplay so I was basically in heaven.

Special Guests & GaymerX

My favorite special guests were Kevin Wada (artist), Cecil Baldwin (Welcome to Night Vale) and Dylan Marron (Welcome to Night Vale) to name a few! GaymerX had a game room and Nintendo and Atari both had booths.

My Loot

It was pretty hard to not spend all my money, the con was filled with talented creators and vendors. The MC in “Node” by David Rondinelli is basically Sailor Moon if her dad was Batman, so what’s not to love?

I had the chance to meet Hazel Newlevant, editor of “Chainmail Bikini” which is an anthology of comics by and about female gamers. She was super nice and her booth was full of great comics. I picked up her “Poly Glot, Cunning Linguist”. I really loved the honesty and emotional complexity of her short comic.

I couldn’t resist picking up this beautiful Hirsute Heroines postcard set by Hayley Blatte. Just look at the gorgeous purple pit hair!

I’m a big fan of simple black and white art (I blame manga for that). So I knew I couldn’t walk away from Niki Smith’s booth without buying something. “Some Did Rest” was the “depressing” comic as Smith described it. It was inspired by, “the thousands of students killed in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, and the impact of a natural disaster on a society with compulsory population control.” It is pretty sad, but also really beautiful.

Up With The Sun” and “Friends” are Smith’s LGTBQ-friendly erotic comics. “Up With The Sun” is about a polyamorous relationship with a cisgender woman, transgender man and a cisgender man. “Friends” features a threesome with two cisgender men and one cisgender woman. I’ve read smut and ecchi manga before, so it was nice to read a comic where the eroticism of the story is healthy and balanced. You can read and subscribe to “Friends” and “Up with the Sun” on the erotic comic site Filthy Figments. She has more erotic comics as well!

FlameCon plans to have another con next year, hurray! Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for updates. Oh, and stay tuned for another FlameCon blog post about the ‘Secret Identities: Transgender Themes In Geek Culture’ panel I attended.