Who IS this guy?!

'Niceguy' Eddie

Political Talk Show Host and Internet Radio Personality. My show, In My Humble Opinion, aired on RainbowRadio from 2015-2017.

Feel free to contact me at niceguy9418@usa.com. You can also friend me on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, and Tumblr, and support my Patreon. Also, if you don't mind the stench, you can find my unofficial "fan club" over HERE. ;)


Saturday, December 20, 2014

My Interview with Terra Snover

Terra, thanks for taking the time to do this with me. How long have you  been drawing comics?
I have been making comics from the young age of 5, back then they were  nonsensical and impossible to follow, but I made boatloads of them  anyway. In middle school and high school I joined my school paper and started making strips for said papers. Just a gag a day stuff, but it was the first time a lot of people saw my work. It wasn't until I met Colin Ringie, in high school, that I started to take making comics super seriously. He is a wonderful writer and we decided to make a web comic together, we named it "happy but dead" and it was nuts very all over the place, characters died came back to life, lived in parks, ran a porn, liquor and gun shop, like I said nuts. That comic ran for about 5 or 6 years until college became too much for me and I needed to drop it.

Any other works out there that we should check out?

The only one I would like people to see is Screamland I did coloring for that one in college and I'm super proud of that comic. The other comics I did are offline and not to see the light of day again.
Even The Humans Must Die?
Oh yeah, the 24 hour comic. I try and do the 24 hour comic each year and 90% of the time I enjoy doing it.
Is that for a Con?
(checked it out) 24 pages in 24 hours?! Holy crap, when I I did my own web comic, I could barely get a page out in 3 hours to a whole afternoon!

Hard but fun

Do have any particular artistic influences?

Yes a lot of them, but if I had to pick one I would go with my mentor Hector Casanova, he was my illustration teacher in college and he took me under his wing. Showing me that my artistic talent was not limited to just another anime artist.

Other people on my list include but is not limited to:
 Max Fleischer, creator of Betty Boop
 Hayao Miyazaki, of studio Studio Ghibli
 And Craig McCracken of the Power Puff Girls and Foster's Home for Imagery Friends.

I was a big fan of McCracken myself back in the PPG and Foster's days.  It amazes me now to think about how long ago that was! I'm also HUGE fan of Miyazaki's work. We've raised our kids on his films as much as we have with Pixar and Star Wars, so I've got to know: What's your favorite Miyazaki film?

Whisper of the Heart, it's a wonderful slice of life movie, slow, intelligent, and cute.
That is a good one. And not one that quite as many people are familiar with - and very different from his more well-known fare.
Your favorite anime?

Last exile. One of the best anime I have ever seen. The story is a lot of fun, the animation is almost perfect, and the music is well done.
There's a lot I want to ask you about Mock Girl, but first of all, Spunko the Clown... Seriously, girl, what the hell is wrong with you?! OK, Sorry... What's the inspiration here? He seriously creeps me out!

I love that character, he originally was going to be a one-shot character that maybe come back now and then, but writing for him was so much fun I had to keep him around. He is creepy, he's nuts, he that extra bit of chaos that any good webcomic needs.

...no, I'm sorry, that's pretty messed up!

As far as inspiration there wasn't much of one. When I needed a scary character for a comic I just asked myself what are people freaked out by, and clown was the only thing I could think of that I could easily fit into my story.

About the title, "Mock Girl..." Am I mistaken, or does that sound a bit like a transphobic slur?

Yes it is, and I have not heard the end of it. A week doesn't go by where I don’t get an email about it. But there is a reason I chose it.  Because if you can make use of the word in a positive light you take its power away. There a ton of slurs that out there that have been turned on their heads because people use them in a new way, just look at the music industry they do this all the time and it works.
So when you started out did you plan to have a comic about the Russian Mob, a Creepy Clown, a Vengeful B-List Celebrity and TV Camera Induced Vision Quests right from the start, or does this all come about more organically, as the story progressed?
The way I write is very fluid. I make characters put them in situations and let them react. Whenever I think too far ahead I it doesn't work out for me, I have had a lot of comics end because I get lost in the ideas and not the making of the comic.
How much of your own experiences inform the character of Sam or the story in general?

Not at all. I'm just good at imagining that kind of stuff.

A lot of transgender web-comics focus on the importance positive support from family (Validation, Princess, Venus Envy). I think it's safe to say that families don't get much more dysfunctional than Sam's. Any real life parallel or is that more of a dramatic contrast?

I had an okay life, I had my struggles but they weren't nearly as screwed up as the one I gave my main character. I have always given the characters in the comics a horrible life, that way when you see them rise above it all you are that much more invested in them. I also like the idea of you choosing your family, Sam found these crazy people, Brit, Spunko, etc and chose to let them into her life. We all can do that find the people who make you happy and they are your family. Giving the character a harder life when they make these relationships it is so much more rewarding for the reader.
One of the things that strikes me about this strip is that almost none of the drama or conflict, outside of the subconscious world anyway, actually comes from her being transgender. In fact, I'd almost say you  could have written the comic about 99% identically with a cisgender female character. (To be fair, "I DO" would definitely have to change! LOL) Is it your intention to keep Sam's gender as such a minor element to the story, or will there be some future conflicts that are more directly related to it? (Her current romantic interest perhaps/ihopenot?)

"I do."
Life has way more conflict then our genders or sexual preferences. Life is full of hardships, bills, relationships, enemies, etc. I wanted this comic to deal with a lot more than just one thing. Yes Sam is transgender, but other than when she is self-reflecting or in a relationship the transgender issue doesn’t come up. I deal with said transgender content matter when it needs to be dealt with. So far it hasn't come up a lot, but that doesn't mean it won't. Again I make characters first then come the situations, it will come up again I just don't know when.

What do you do when you’re not drawing comics?

A job I hate... if I had my choice I would be doing web comics full time.

As for other fun things I'm a game designer and freelance artist. I also enjoy a good game of Dungeon and Dragons.

That's cool! I ran a 2nd Edition (dating myself) Planescape group for a couple of years back in college. What do you consider a "good game of Dungeons and Dragons?" Any preference of Editions or Settings?

Okay, when I say, "Dungeons and Dragons," I ran role playing in general. I actually HATE D&D.

 Oh... OK... (awkward)... LOL
But I play each week with my friends, right now we are playing in the Firefly universe, before that it was the walking dead, and before that we were doing a space drama. We are all over the place. When it comes to a good game I say was the story engaging? Did people have fun? If so it was a good game.
When you say "game designer," you do mean board games, video games? Anything we'd have heard of, or could go check out?

Both. I make board games, none published as of yet. And I make video games. Way back when I did flash games, man that was a long time ago, I did a few jobs for a mobile game studio that is shut down and I'm working on a game right now that's called "Days of Ash."

You'll have to let us know when it's available!

So, shifting gears a little bit...

When you first started to transition (or when you first came out) how did family and friends react?

 My friends were like, "we know."
 My mom was upset but she has come to terms with it.

 What has been the hardest part for you?
The government red tape. Here in the USA the government is not so transgender friendly. They make everything hard to do, name changes, changing your gender on government ID's, getting medical assistance, etc. Then there is the money. It costs an average of $60,000 to make a male to female transaction, and there is not much help out there, no loans no insurance, nothing. You can get some money from crowd funding but unless you are super lucky not much comes of it.
How young were you when you first aware that there was something different about you, gender-wise?
I was 4, but I quickly found out what I was, was not okay by societal standards. So I hid it from everyone. The one regret I have was not making it known then.
Does religion play a role in your life?

No there is no religion in my life. I believe in science, not myth and faith. I'll tell people I believe in Odin and Norse myths just to push peoples’ buttons but that's about it.

Sounds right up my alley, actually. Where do fall politically?

Socialism, for the win! Not the way a lot of people have done it in the past, but if we were to support each other in every way we could the world would be a better place. "You want to be a doctor? Go for it, help your fellow man! You want to do art and make the world a more insightful and wonderful place to live? Do it! I know that there are some major pitfalls in that, but I think if we think about the world and everyone living there instead of our wallets we could make it work. Passion and innovation could be what we work for, not this other shit.

You mean working at a job you hate to buy shit you don't need with money you don't have to impress people you don't like? Yeah, I could be down with getting rid of that.
And especially with technology going the way it is, soon we won't need people to work at burger king that will be all done automatically via robotics.
True dat.

Pretty much every transgendered person I've spoken (all of them actually) have expressed some rather strong and negative opinions about the HRC (Human Rights Campaign) over the history of throwing trans- people under the bus to achieve progress exclusively for the LGB community. Do you feel the same? Is this a fair assessment?

 Yep. It's a hard truth and it's something we need to overcome.
Have seen any evidence of that happening?
I don't think people are actively doing it to be jerks, I just think it's a numbers game. There are a lot more gay and lesbians out there than transgender people. So the rights groups end up wanting to help the most amount of people so its way more LGB and less of the T.

A couple contentious issues, as they relate to more of the internal trans- politics...

How do you feel about "Gender Dysphoria" remaining in the DSM? Does the legitimacy of it being recognized as an actual condition outweigh the stigma of it (technically) be labelled, rightly or wrongly, a "mental illness?"

I don't care how they classify it just helps the people who are transgender instead of making their lives a living hell.
Do you feel that people who would otherwise pass are under any obligation to be "out?" Are they doing any harm to the rest of the trans- community by living stealth?
No, let them be who they are.
There's been a long of progress made very recently in a fairly short amount of time (not to say that there isn't a LONG way to go...) and yet it seems that the (Conservative) opposition focus mainly on just two things: Boys playing on Girls' Sports Teams, and where everyone's going to pee. If I were to extract the single Planck unit of legitimacy from all of that... With regards to say, restrooms, locker rooms and, perhaps most importantly, Women's Shelters, how does one go about making sure that ALL women, cis and trans, have appropriate access to needed facilities and services, and yet still be protected from potential rapists/perv's/peepers/etc... who might try to gain access as "trans?"

Or is this much ado about nothing?
I hate it when people call transgender people perverts. 99.9% of trans people just want to use the bathroom to pee, there is such a small pocket of people who would do anything “perverted” that it's not worth holding up people who need the help becoming who they are and feeling comfortable in their surroundings.
Ed.Note: Just to be clear, I did not mean to imply that "Trangender people were perverts," but rather that ACTUAL perverts could gain access by falsely claiming to be trans-.
If there was one thing you really wished that cisgender people better understood about transgender people, what would that be?

Nothing as in, "cisgender people already understand well enough," or nothing as in, "stay out of our business and we'll stay out of yours?"

I think they get it.

Interesting. I don't think I've ever gotten an answer like that.  Last question... How do you explain to thick headed conservatives people who don't understand that being trans- (or LBG for that matter) isn't a choice?

Be gay for a month or two, it's a choice right? Oh, you can't do it? Well neither can we.

*sunned silence*

Oh my God... That's a really brilliant answer.
I've asked that question of so many LGBT people, and this is the first remotely satisfactory (meaning the slightest bit helpful) answer I've gotten yet. And it's absolutely PERFECT. Sometimes the best ideas/explanations are the simplest ones. (And it's so obvious, yet sometimes those are the hardest ones to see.) I am bowled over by the elegant simplicity of this. Seriously: I will never have to ask this question again. I'm sure William (don't ask) won't buy it, but I'm certainly satisfied. THANK YOU!
Terra Snover is the creator of Mock Girl. If you are interested in supporting the comic, you can become a Patreon, or you can pick up a set of Sam's Microchip Earrings (shown below). Thanks again for talking with me!

Thank you.

Here're some nice old-timey Christmas Carols for y'all...

In a recent comment, a certain Right-Wing Jackhole Poster castigated me for not being Christmas-ee  enough, or not making his Season merry enough, or... something.

So, in the spirit of getting into the spirit, here's some Christmas music that, IMHO, is vastly superior to that which the local radio station keeps pumping in to the speakers in my company's office men's room:

 ...And for all the RW Bible-Literalists out there who don't believe in METAPHORS, Cracked is there to explain the *REAL* meaning of [these] Christmas [songs] to you.

 Merry Christmas, everyone! Here's your card:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Racism Part 2: What they don't teach you in school

Babies are racists. LOL - OK not really, but read #5 on that list. (From Cracked.)

The history of how White, Southern Racism shaped this country from the beginning. (From Kos.)

The Case for reparations. (From the Atlantic)

And Racism is still worse than we realize. (Cracked.)

Now lets examine the effect of the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964.

For this exercise I am going to focus on two geographic areas in particular: The SOUTHEAST, defined as Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia and West Virginia; and the NORTHEAST, defined as Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.  (For their parts, the MOUNTAIN STATES have always been Republican strongholds, and that hasn't changed. The MIDWEST has always been a contentious battleground and that hasn't changed. The PACIFIC STATES, with the exception of Alaska (which votes like a Mountain State) DID flip, from Republican to Democrat, but did so much later, in the 1990's, so they're not relevant to the discussion either.)

I am going to look at two time periods. The first starts in 1876 which was the first post-Civil War in which the Democrats were able to challenge the Republicans with a unified party and a single candidate.  It ends in 1960, the last Election before the passage of the Civil Rights Act. The second period begins with 1964 and goes through to the present day.  In this exercise I am looking the results of the States' PRESIDENTIAL Elections.  This oversimplifies a bit, but I spot-checked a few of the Southeastern States' Gubernatorial races once when a Tea Party friend of mine challenged it and the pattern held pretty solid on the states he had me check.  I may do Governors, Senators or Representatives one day, but for now let's just look at Presidential results.

From 1876 to 1960, the Southeast held 300 total Presidential Elections. This takes into account that North Carolina was not part of the Electoral College following the Civil War until 1908. In these 300 Elections, the DEMOCRATIC Candidate (Tilden, Hancock, Cleveland (3x), Bryan (3x), Parker, Wilson (2x), Cox, Davis, Smith, Roosevelt (4x), Truman, Steveson (2x) and Kennedy) won 255 of them.  That's a winning percentage of 85%.  So.. Pretty clear that the DEMOCRATS were strong in the Southeast following the Civil War and Prior too Civil Rights.

In the Northeast, in the same time period, there were 242 total Presidential Elections. In those, the same Democratic Candidates took home only 79 Victories, for a 32.6%  Winning Percentage.

NOW... Since the signing of the Civil Rights act, what has changed?

Well, since 1964, the Southeast has held 182 Presidential Elections. In that time, the Democratic Candidate (Johnson, Humphrey, McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton (2x), Gore and Obama (2x)) has won a mere 43 of these, dropping their winning percentage from 85% to a paltry 23.6% - a decline of 61.4%!  Meanwhile, of the 156 Presidential Elections held in the Northeast since the signing of the Civil Rights act, those same Democrats won 108 times. That's a 69.2% Winning percentage, up from 32.6% - a gain of 36.6%!  So clearly...

1) There has been significant ideological drift in both the Northeast and Southeast.

2) This shift is shown to have happened almost immediately after the signing of the Civil Rights act.

3) The Democratic Party (the one who's President SIGNED the Civil Rights Act) moved North, while the Republicans became the darlings of the Old Confederacy and Segregationist States.

A coupe of notes:

1) I counted DEMOCRATIC Victories, so that no one could call Bullshit if I tried to lump Independent such as Strom Thurmond or George Wallace in with the Republicans.  As it is, they were not counted. Also, if I was counting Republican victories, what do you call Teddy Roosevelt in 1912?  Seems wrong to count the Bull Moose Candidate, but it seems just as wrong to leave him out. So we'll use the Democratic performance to show the trend.

2) Surprisingly the biggest exception to the trend in the Southeast is actually NOT Florida: It's WEST VIRGINIA!  West Virginia has gone to the Democrat SEVEN TIMES since the signing of the Civil Rights act.  Florida has gone only five, and three other have gone four times. The STRONGEST Republican States since the signing of the Civil Rights act (in the Southeast) are Alabama, Mississippi, Oklahoma and South Carolina. Since 1964 a Democrat has only won ONCE in each of these States.

3) Prior to Barack Obama in 2008, the only Democrats to win ANY of the Southeastern States were themselves Southerners :Johnson, from Texas, Carter from Georgia and Clinton from Arkansas. (This was no help to Gore, of Tennessee, who failed to win any in 2000, though we won't discuss Florida.)

4) If you ignore the influence of NATIONAL LANDSLIDES, which say little about any one regions politics and more about the politics of THE DAY, the trend gets even more stark. If I remove the Four Franklin Roosevelt land slides on '32, '36, '40 and '44, the Johnson landslide of '64, the Nixon landslide of '72 and the Reagan landslide of '84, here's how it breaks down:

Southeast, 1876-1960: 244 Elections, 199 Democratic Victories, 81.6% Winning Pct.
Southeast, 1968-2012: 140 Elections, 34 Democratic Victories, 24.3% Winning Pct.

Northeast, 1876-1960: 198 Elections, 47 Democratic Victories, 23.7% Winning Pct.
Northeast, 1876-1960: 120 Elections, 93 Democratic Victories, 77.5% Winning Pct.

So they go down 57.3% in the Southeast, a little less than before, but go up 53.8% in the Northeast - a LOT more than before.

Take either methodology, as you prefer. AND, if you're going to make the argument that the Democrats are the REAL racists, you're going to have to explain THIS phenomenon away first, if you expect to be taken seriously. Robert Byrd or no Robert Byrd.

Now for something a bit lighter, here are Five Shockingly Racist Scenes in Famous Superhero Comics. (Cracked.)

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Racism Part 1: The Law and Justice

Watch these three videos, if you can stomach it - they're pretty brutal...
(trigger warning, etc...)




...And then contrast these to Steve Lohner...

...or the KID GLOVE handling of Joesph Houseman:

Seriously?! This obviously, openly, armed, angry, belligerent, RW asshole yells at the cops for almost 10- minutes strait?! Tamir Rice? John Crawford? The cops gunned them down, on sight, in under ONE SECOND.  And I'm supposed to believe that race doesn't play a factor?  I'm supposed to believe that these cops were acting appropriately?!  And then I'm supposed to believe the cop, and the lone, white, racist witness in the Michael Brown case?! BULLSHIT.  This is not only criminal, it's indefensible. The Grand Jury, in every case, didn't see that way, so fuck them.  The Prosecutors consistently shit-canned their own cases, so FUCK THEM.  Gerlado wants to tell me that BLACK PEOPLE are the problem? FUCK HIM. And if you can't recognize the problem here? THEN FUCK YOU.

And if you're still even thinking of telling what a threat these people were, let's not forget that they somehow made the effort to take THIS GUY alive:

James Holmes, remember him? Killed 12 people, was carrying a Shot Gun, a Semi-Automatic Rifle, a Hand gun and Tear Gas Grenades?  Imagine for a moment the mentality it must take to take the time, effort and risk to take this piece of shit alive, and yet the men above had to be put down like dogs in under a second.

Go ahead. Try to argue with me on this.  It's not a question of whether we have a police-state problem, or a race problem, it's only a question of how many people, black AND white (and every other color) need to DIE before something constructive is done about it.

And if you're still skeptical, how about some crushed testicles?

And before anyone wastes any of my time telling me that these are isolated incidents, here is a list of UNARMED Black Men killed by the police since 1999. (And from my own research for past posts, I can assure you that this is FAR from an exhaustive list.)

Oh, and let's not forget that nearly bottomless scum pit of a prosecutor who thought that an abused woman firing a warning shot at her abusive ex-boyfriend deserved SIXTY YEARS in prison for it.
Yeah. No problem with White Privilege or Male Privilege here, is there?  By all means, let's keep "standing our ground."

And even after all that, if you don't understand why they riot, especially in THEIR OWN neighborhoods? Well, THIS GUY explains it, and gives you different perspective on it.  It's his opinion and perspective, not mine, but the more I see of just how much we have a problem with racism in this country, the less inclined I am to judge ANY of these folks.

(And more on all this in my next post.)

(CORRECTION: In the video, I referred to JOSEPH Houseman as JOHN, and JAMES Holmes also as JOHN.  My apologies.)

(After all, the last time anyone saw JOHN Holmes in a theater, he was armed with something completely different.)

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Meaningless Midterm and my own poll...

In the video I reference the following message that Rusty Shackleford sent me after casting his vote:

"Regardless of whether or not you believe in this (and you know my stance on this), assimilation into the military-industrial complex is REALLY far down on the list of priorities for trans rights.  If you want to buy into this neoliberal nonsense, whatever, but I'm going to be heavily side-eying your priorities if this is where you choose to focus your energy.  Liberation, not assimilation.  Don't feed the military more victims and call them "free" for having the privilege of dying for some rich cis-het assholes."

Also, if anyone is interested n seeing the original discussion between myself, Rusty and Princess Bitchface Androgyne Anode, you can find it in the comments section, here. (Assuming MMFA didn't remove any of it.)

And my sincerest apologies to KRISTEN BECK, (not "Christine Speck") who's name eluded me during the video.  I really should have had all of my notes in order: I'm sorry about that!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

How Pro-Life groups are destroying the "Traditional Family"

So, it turns out that the single biggest indicator of the rate of unwed mothers in a given community is not poverty, or welfare, or declining morals, or allowing gay marriage, and certainly no being LIBERAL.  In fact it's quite the opposite: Being Pro-Life has the strongest positive correlation to un-Wed mothers, and the decline of the "traditional family."

Suck on that one, Right Wing hypocrites!

EDIT: Had to tack another one.  Abortion IS good, actually, and necessary to the very idea of women's equality.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Seven things Liberals already knew...

So Rolling receltny published an article that I've re-titled, "Six studies that prove things Liberals already knew."

...add to the recent UTTER BULLSHIT from a Republican member of the Colorado School boards about how we ended slavery voluntarily and you can include a 7th item that the Right doesn't know shit about: The Civil War.

History FAIL
Science FAIL
Economics FAIL
Public Policy FAIL

...and yet people still vote for the worthless pieces of shit.  Unbelievable.

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Brothers Koch Parable

Before you watch this, think about what YOU would wish for if you had a Genie and the only rules were those from Aladdin:

1) Can't kill anyone.
2) Can't make anyone fall in love with anyone else
3) Can't bring back the dead
4) Can't wish for more wishes.

 Figure that out, and then watch and see what I think the Koch brothers might wish for.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

My Interview with Jenn Dolari

How long have you been doing comics?

I've been drawing comics since about 1987 or so. Although, years before, I'd taken piano lessons and learned to read and write music. I noticed musical brackets kind of looked like faces in profile, and started drawing faces on them, much to the chagrin of my piano teacher. So I'd been drawing on and off since about 1982. But it wasn't until 1987 when I started really sitting down to draw comics.

The other night, during the live stream I recognized some of the techniques you used from my own (very limited) art training. Have you had any formal training, or are you entirely self-taught?

I'm not really a natural artist. I am a natural writer, I hope. I really began my comic work as a writer. Around 1987 I had a dream that began to blossom into a story I wanted to tell. I broke it down into about 15 parts and began writing it. Now, this is 1987. I was 13. I wasn't exactly the best wordsmith out there, and even I realized I wasn't telling the story very well. So I decided...why not draw it? I was already drawing the faces in brackets, why not try to draw this story?  Then you don't have to worry about writing description, but you just need to focus on dialogue.  
Problem is...I'd never drawn a comic before. Or drawn all the description I wasn't going to write.

In 1985, there was an anime series called Robotech airing on syndicated TV, and I adored it. I didn't get a VCR until just before the series ended, so, to relive the story, I bought the comic book adaptations. I used those as a starting point. At first, I just traced the art that corresponded to scenes in my story. Eventually, I learned to copy them without tracing. And eventually learned to draw reasonable facsimiles in a year or two.

Over the years I looked into various artstyles and forms to create these comics, and eventually started using the ball-and-rod forms of basic drawing. But I never had any real formal training, or classes. I just did what I did in order to do it.

Do you have any previous works out there?

I worked on that particular comic, now called The book of Xand, on and off from 1987 to 1992. Made a few pitches, tossed it around a few comic companies, none of which were interested. So while there's a lot of concept art and half-finished pages, there's really nothing that I can call done with that story. I'm hoping to do the Xand story after I finish either Closetspace or A Wish for Wings.

I’ll look forward to seeing that! What made you decide to do these two in particular?

You're probably gonna want to get a sandwich. Maybe a drink or two, before I start.

I've got my drink.


Around 1992, I'd joined a crossdressing support group called the "Boulton and Park Society." I was their one transgender member in a group of crossdressers, but there weren't any other support groups at the time in the San Antonio area.  At the time San Antonio was a very hostile town for anyone who wasn't straight, and Boulton and Park was the only group who offered to help, so I took it. I began drawing a comic in the group's newsletter called "A Different Perspective," and in the last few strips, two characters emerged who I liked very much. A tall thin brunette named Carrie and a shorter feisty redhead named Allyson.

You don’t say…

Around 1992, I realized The Book of Xand would never get made, and about the same time, a new storyline began bubbling up in my head. I took a liking to our two new heroines, and their story as
two crossdressing and/or transgendered characters began to form. I decided to make that my next story.

I was trying to get into any form of entertainment at this point, and shaped the series around a one season, twenty six episode television story, 'cause once the network or syndicate figured out what the heck I was writing, I doubt I'd get more than one season. After that failed spectacularly (in order to write an episode of TV, you must be a member of the Writer's Guild, and to become a member of the Writer's Guild, you need to write an episode of TV, and I couldn't play that circular logic game), I teamed up with a friend, Dove Sherman, to try and publish a twenty eight page comic.  Dove would draw, while I would write, since I didn't have much faith in my art as a professional artist. Many of Dove's redesigns show through in the comic to this day.  We'd planned to shop it around, but Dov felt he wasn't up to drawing 28 pages a month, and around this time I soured on the whole comics business.

Eventually I kind of threw up my hands and said "Well, it'll never be" and began a career in technical support. About 1997 or so, I began thinking about a webcomic, and how I could get around the quota limitations of the day (I didn't have much space, and each comic would have taken up valuable kilobytes), and it wasn't until 2000 that through Keenspace (now ComicGenesis) that unlimited space and bandwidth became available. I didn't, however, want to throw my two best properties out in case it failed.

In 2001, I lost my job and ended up moving back home to San Antonio. I decided to see what the old anime club was doing that I'd once belonged to in the late 90s, and caught a few episodes of shows they were playing. Specifically, "Omishi Magical Theater Risky Safety" (about an angel and demon in training) and "I'm Gonna Be An Angel!" (about another angel in training). When I got home, I was putzing around in the loft of my parent's house, where my mother was working on a cousin's quinceaƱera coming-out party. The theme? Angels. About a hundred statues were staring down at me all evening long.  That night, the threads of all those angels began to weave around my brain and make a new story about a girl who wanted to be an angel. I decided that would be the story I posted to Keenspace.

After a computer crash, and a six month hiatus while fixing it, I came back to Keenspace, this time bringing Closetspace as my comic. Shortly thereafter, I realized I could do both weekly and began telling both stories.

Before we get into the actual comics, I want to ask you about where you get you inspiration from and who or what some of your influences are.

As I mentioned earlier, I really enjoyed Robotech, but even before then, I was hooked on Battle of the Planets in the 70s, and Star Blazers in the early 80s, so anime was a big inspiration. Robotech in particular (and Dune in a smaller way) really put a love of over arcing multi-generational stories in me (The Book of Xand takes place from 3113BC to 3797AD, spans three planets and even an alternate universe!). A more comic-related influence was the company putting out the Robotech comics, Comico. While Comico had a few ongoing comics, most of them were self-contained stories with a specific beginning-middle and end. Mage: The Hero Discovered, about a man who is granted superpowers but refuses to take on the responsibilities of said powers, was a wonderfully put together fifteen issue comic. I never liked superhero comics, because they never ended, and here was one that did. From that point on, I made sure all my stories ended (even the Xand one!)

A Wish for Wings uses a lot of angelic and demonic imagery but seems to stay well clear of established religions. Can you tell me a bit about the theology of this world? What mythos did you seek inspiration from? (Aside from the Renaissance version of Abrahamic Angels, I mean.) 

Most of the theology of A Wish for Wings has been mostly hinted at, but in my head there's a specific theology and organizations, of it. In doing so, I've gone out of my way not to use any established religion to create the theology of the story, and instead, inspire it. In fact, my attitude has been "All religions are right...but only parts of them" in creating the theology. I'll go more into them in the comics as we near the end - but as they're not spoilerific, I'll share them here.

The most major influence is one of the tenets of Mormonism: when someone reaches a kind of enlightenment, they are allowed to become the god of a new world. Deyus Pitha, the Creator we see and is mentioned occasionally, is the one who was put in charge of the Earth.

There's also a little bit of Milton in there: Deyus, and six people he chose, came to the backwater planet earth to help these evolving apes turn into civilized humans. But there was a problem. While he himself was perfect, his handpicked helpers were not. One became jealous and wanted to take his powers for his own. He wasn't so much defeated, as a cease-fire was created.

A tiny bit of Islam: The angels went into hiding to keep humans unaware of their abilities and from attempting some kind of coup-de-etat themselves. They began to cover themselves from head to toe in cloaks that hide them from the world. Their outfits resemble hijab and niqab garmets used by Muslim women.

There's a smattering of the Jewish heirarchy of angels as well: As humans were the one directly affected by this coup-de-etat, Deyus decided to add humans to the angel's ranks, although as foot soldiers. Instead, he and the original angels, along with a select few humans, would be in charge of these new human angels. Deyus, realizing he had five other helpers who could also attempt to seize his powers, left, leaving....

...well, that would be spoiling, wouldn't it?

I hope you don’t take this the wrong way (meaning badly) but in watching how the Angels and the Shadows interact with mortal humans, I’m reminded of some of the Jack Chick tracts I’ve come across over the years. Any influence there? I primarily mean artistically, but theologically or mythologically as well.

Not really. While I actually admire the artstyle in Jack Chick tracts, I'm rather disappointed in the message they deliver. I'm sure, though, he's pulling off some of the same influences I am to make A Wish for Wings.

What role does religion play in your own life?

Very little. I was raised not just Roman Catholic, but Mexican Roman Catholic with all the added extra bits of ceremonies and religions. I burned out quickly. I was an atheist for a while there, and a rather mean and nasty one. The kind who tells kids there's no Santa Claus and their mom is the Tooth Fairy. 
Wicca really worked for me (and if fact, some of the magic work Andrea does in her training are
based on Wiccan magic work).

In the end, I just decided to live by The Golden Rule as delivered by two of the greatest philosophers of the 20th Century: "Be excellent to each other."

Did any of the more homophobic or transphobic aspects of it play a part in driving you away from the Church?

Not really.  As I mentioned, it was more burnout than a break in theology.  Which may be the reason I'm a bit more tolerant towards people of faith than many of my friends.  I didn't have one thing that said “Nope, no more religion.”  It was more like “Cant' I have a break?  Please?  There's just too much of this stuff.”

OK… The colors...

I get that (at a very basic level) Blue is Angelic- and Red is Shadow-based magic (Jedi/Sith Light-saber influence?) that Purple magic is more powerful and reserved for Royalty (though whatever that means to Angels has not yet been fully revealed) and Yellow is also more powerful (more than Purple?) and means something else, as yet unknown, but something dangerous. (Green Lantern influence?) Without giving me any spoilers, (and I do mean ANY spoilers!) do I have that much basically right, or did I miss something that’s actually IN the comic so far? Was there some kind of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock thing going on here that I missed?

Imagine magic as a color wheel. Red at the top, Orange at 2PM, Yellow at 4PM, Green at 6PM, Blue at 8PM, and Purple at 10PM. The farther away the color is from each other, the more powerful/hurtful it is. Each person has a color that comes naturally to them. Human Michael's (whose name may end up getting some Soviet revisionism since I didn't expect to have two characters named Michael in one story) natural color was Green. Andrea's is Yellow. Iskander, who was once royalty on earth, coincidentally was purple, the color of royalty.

Somewhere along the lines, the angels chose Blue as their color of choice. This way they could work together in a fight without damaging each other. The events of "The Impure Heart," where a teammate who was using another color than blue, killed another angel who was blue, are what made blue mandatory for all angels, and outlawed all other colors. After this, all angels were trained to use blue, usually at the cost of losing their natural colors. Andrea is trying to keep her yellow magic,
however - because it was the color human Michael taught her to use. She keeps it to remember him by. Red is used by the shadows because...well...that would be telling, wouldn't it....

Obviously Wish for Wings does not have the LGBTrans-focused story and cast that Closetspace does (and we’ll get to that) but it looks like you were still giving a nod to it with Khaneni/Nen’a. Was his (xis? her?) status of Gallus meant to >be like a 3rd Gender / Bi-Spirt kind of being, akin to the Hijra in the Hindu religion?

There have always been gender questioning humans, likely for as long as humans have been around. Many cultures had specific duties for these people, or classes, or regulations. Many were hurtful, or attempts to cure their condition. But others allowed them to live their lives as best they could in their
adopted roles. In Khaneni's case, he wanted to be a woman, or in the tribe's terminology, a Mother. Given his incompetence as hunter, and Han'a's talent for it, he was, essentially, allowed to switch places with her, taking her place as a mother and his place as a hunter. 
As for those pronouns, I tend to go by name in describing her.  Khaneni was “his” name.  Nen'a is “her” name.

I do plan to one day tell the story of how the Tribe was lost in its own story, called The Long Road Home. In it, there will be an extended version of The Lesson of Patience, that goes into Nen'a's status as a gallus in more detail. While she's considered a mother, she can't bear children, so is still expected
to father one to fulfill her child-debt (and does). Since she doesn't menstruate, one of her duties is to tend to women who are bleeding. She even has to temporarily lose her status as a Gallus to cover for a time when then hunting teams are shorthanded.

She's also made a medicine woman, as we see in later episodes of A Wish forWings. Not because she is excellent at it...but because the older medicine woman believes that she will not be killed by other, less tolerant, members of the tribe if she provides a service they cannot do without.

So what about Han’a? Was she the same, or more just a victim of the tribe’s circumstances? (I read her more as gender non-conformant or pre-feminist (basically a tomboy) rather that truly trans.)

Han'a is a very special case. The tribe doesn't allow women to hunt. Their services are to maintain the tribe's home, gather plants and vegetables and tend to the children. It was with that mindset that Han'a was raised. She only becomes a huntress when the tribe suddenly becomes so shorthanded, they need to train the female children to help.  She's drafted into service, but as it turns out, shes good at scouting and, while not making many (or really any) kills, she becomes a trusted member
of the team. When the emergency is over, it's her talent that allows Kahneni to take her place as Nen'a. And for Han'a to remain hunting.

The thing is...she really wants to be a mother. That's how she was raised from Day 1. She only hunts because the tribe needs her to, then asks her to. When she gets her first killmark, it's the final commitment to that way of life for her.  She's made her decision to remain a hunter, but in her heart, she still wants to be a mother. 
When she loses the ability to use her arm, she immediately goes back into the Mother role, but makes sure to teach her daughter, even behind the tribe's back, how to hunt. She now sees it as a life skill.

Again, in The Long Road Home, I'll extend things a bit, to show how she fits in with the tribe in her new role as huntress and how protective they are of her. When she becomes part of a hunting team, they look after her as much as she looks after them. There's a scene where a tribe member attempts to rape her. She fights him off, and when her hunting team mates find out, essentially beat him to a bloody pulp. When Nen'a is called to bring him back to help, and finds out he tried to rape her wife...let's just say Hippocrates is a few thousand years away.

There's also the fact that, no matter if she's a huntress or not, she's still a female. Like Nen'a was required to father a child, Han'a still bleeds monthly, and cannot hunt (there are rituals that are followed for menstruating women). Her team basically treats it as if they have a sick member of the hunting team and sit that week out...but really, they just enjoy the time slacking off.

So far we’ve seen ancient tribes (14,000 years ago?), ancient Rome (200 AD) and roughly the present day. Are there going to be more time periods used to reveal the storyline and introduce more characters?

The tribe is 14,000 years ago, yes. 12,000BC. Sadly, I sometimes get the two confused in the narrative occasionally, though. At this point, I've pretty much laid out all the backstory I'm going to and we'll be moving forward. If there's another time jump, it may be to an even earlier time than 14,000 years ago during the original coup-de-etat of Morningstar against Deyus. Although I may save that for The Long Road Home. No specific time period on that, other than "The very beginnings of civilization."

The villain so far, (though I assume not the BIG Bad,) Perrimore... Was he inspired by any real-life person or fictional character? (Or his nefarious plot inspired by real-like events? (9/11, Unibomber, OK City?)

Arthur Perrimore isn't really the big baddie of the series, as we'll soon see. He's more of catalyst, for reasons that will soon come clear in the story (Notice he has zero connection to the story until the bombs go off?). Arthur is one very, very, VERY unbalanced human, who had enough strength of will to pull of a 9/11 style attack on all his enemies. He is the Unabomber, David Koresh, and Jack the Ripper
all mixed up. He had a point to his madness, such as Jack the Ripper, brought about by a religion conviction of his own making, like David Koresh, and the genius of Ted Kaczynski. He was a man who had a grudge, wanted to act on the grudge, and the intelligence to make it happen.

I love how you do a lot of your exterior backgrounds, in both W4W and Closetspace. Are these mostly photographs that you’ve taken?

While webcomic artists tend to draw their own backgrounds, I'm a much slower artist than most webcomic artists I know. So I go with filtered pictures for my backgrounds instead of drawing them. There are a few drawn backgrounds, when I've had time to draw them. With very few exceptions, the pictures are all pictures I've taken. The shores of the Black Sea in Roman times are actually Salish Beach in Canada. Andrea's remote childhood home is actually an old mansion in San Marcos, TX. Carrie and Andrea's house is the J T Jones house in Decatur, Alabama. 

Are these places that you frequent, around your home town then?

Many of the pictures come from around the Texas Hill Country, which I consider my home. Some are from my years in Seattle and Pennsylvania, but most are local to the Hill Country. And since I had relatives in the airline industry, I got to fly free a lot around the country. That's where all the above cloud pics come from!  I actually have a library of several thousand pictures I've taken since the 90s that I use for sources.

I wonder what the owners would think about them being featured in a TG comic!

When I first walked by the J T Jones house in Decatur, AL, in 1997, I took a pic of it because it was just a beautiful house. When I needed a Big Victorian Gingerbread house for Allison to live in, I grabbed that pic and scanned it in to use. But it was the ONLY picture I had! And I used the heck out of it. Eventually, I found some fans who lived in the area, and asked them to take pics of the house for me. One of them asked me what he should say if the owners came out and asked what I was doing. All I could say was "show them the comic!"

Given that it's a famous house in Decatur, and is often shown on tour, I don't think they'd mind, especially as I've moved it out of Decatur into Central Texas. If they asked me to remove it, I likely would. I have other pics of Victorian houses I can use. But theirs is gorgeous.

This story is a bit different from many other TG Webcomics in the extent that it doesn’t shy away from showing a lot of the darker, downsides of living as trans, in your chosen gender. A lot of the story so far has centered around mental illness (anxiety, depression, paranoia, panic attacks,) the fear of being
clocked, violence, rejection of family, hate, and even the idea that some people regret their transitioning – which you mentioned the other night caused some people to consider Closetspace to be a bit “gatekeepery.” Aside from that last one, which I’ll come back to, how much of this is drawn from your own experience and are any of the characters in Closetspace based on or inspired by real people?

Very little of Closetspace is based on my own experiences. A few have been informed by my experiences, but nothing in the comic is specific to my life. The closest would be the restaurant scene with everyone staring at Carrie. In Carrie's case, the waiter kind of gets suspicious because the both of them order steak and beer. And the cooks and staff start leering at her. In my case, I went somewhere where the staff already knew I was trans (my friend and her husband were
management there).

Sadly, my attempt to fit in was ruined by the cooking staff leering and catcalling from the back.  Being the 1990s, and the cooks had to be appeased or they'd walk out, I never went back.  Things would likely be different now, thanks to advances in acceptance – but it wasn't a lot of fun at the time.

While Carrie is not specifically based on anyone person, Allison is a different story. For most of the development of Closetspace, Allison's story was one of someone who crossdressed wondering if surgery was the right thing to do. There are people out there who crossdress but have no want to have surgery – and Allison didn't know if she did or not. In that version of the storyline, eventually, she decided against surgery, but otherwise lived as a woman.

About the year 1999, I came out to a friend as trans. This is someone I'd known a long time, and I considered (and still consider) a good friend, and knew he would be understanding. What I didn't expect was he would come out as trans as well. He, now she, proceeded to transition along with me, but much faster. She got her hormones around the same time I did, but managed to push through to her surgery incredibly quickly. And within a year or two, had her surgery and was out on the other side.

And in the end, and to this day, she regrets what she's done. While she's accepted her new life as a woman and moved on, it's not her preferred gender. And, as we are good friends, she told me a lot of her regrets and how her life has changed. 
I've always accepted a bit of responsibility for her change. She had to pull the trigger, as it were, but I showed her how to load the gun. And so, I asked her if I could use her story as Allison's. To get the word out there that This Could Be a Bad Idea. She said yes, and I changed Allison's story from a crossdresser trying to figure out if surgery was for her, to someone who'd gotten the surgery and regretted it.

I've gotten some flak for it, mainly because people are saying I'm too pro-gatekeepery about transition, which is that you need a third party to move on in your transition. That's not exactly what I'm aiming for.  It's more of a "You really REALLY need to think long and hard about this" because it's such a huge change that what you expect and what you get can be very different things. You don't need a therapist to approve your transition. But you really should turn to someone you trust - a father, a brother, a god, maybe even a therapist - and ask "Is this really what I need? Is this something I really have to do?" Because if you're not transgendered before the surgery, you will be after.

I’m curious… You (along with Evelyn Poor) did one of the better known cross-over’s with Venus Envy, after it went on hiatus. (I do still consider an update every 18 months to be “on hiatus” LOL.) You did an excellent job mimicking Erin Lindsey’s art style.  

How difficult was that?  (Or did she draw it?  Because it’s a really good facsimile otherwise!) Do you know Erin? What was her response that story arc?

Still got that drink and/or sandwich?  You might want to get those ready again.

I'm good. LOL

In 2004, I was invited to Trinoc-coN in Durham, NC, along side Kittyhawk of Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki and Erin Lindsey's Venus Envy.  Mind blown.  We talked a bit before the con, and she asked if I'd like to share half a table with her, and we did.  We got along excellently, and over the course of the convention, we developed a real chemistry in our panels.  A real transgender Laurel and Hardy kind of chemistry.  We shared convention space again in 2006 and kept in touch afterwards.

In 2008, I moved to Seattle, where Erin lives, and she offered to help me adjust to life in the Pacific Northwest.  After about a year, we developed a bit of an art studio in one room of her house, where we worked most every day doing comics and art.  Seeing as how we were working with each other all the time, the question came up – what about a fun little crossover?

We worked out the specifics together.  Carrie would go and live in Zoe's world as Zoe for a little while, and, on the flip side, Zoe would live as Carrie for a little while.  It was originally meant to be a full fledged crossover involving both comics.  For Closetspace, I would draw Carrie, and she would draw everything else.  For Venus Envy, she would draw Zoe and I would draw everything else.  But considering how differently we worked (I was pushing out a comic every week, she was pushing out three a week), we decided we'd do all our own work with each comic.

Each episode of the crossover I did involving Venus Envy characters was approved by her, to make sure the characters were acting and looking like their characters. Her only two complaints through the whole series was I made Ritchie look too old, and Lisa and Larson were too friendly (something I remark on the last time we see them).  She also had direct input on what Zoe was doing during the crossover, and her fleeing to Mexico and showing up in a bee outfit was 100% Erin.

Around this time, Erin's real life workload began eating into the Venus Envy time, and eventually it went on hiatus.  And a very long term hiatus.  When I realized there might not be anymore Venus Envy, I decided on my own, that I would make this a sort of epilogue to the series.  So that readers of Venus Envy would have some kind of “Everything Is Alright” closure.  In fact, Carrie specifically says to Zoe the one time they meet “It's alright.  Everything is going to be alright.”

I did specifically try to mimic her artstyle.  Working in the studio toghether, I got to see how she made her comics, and mimicked it as best I could.  I tend to draw with paper and pencil, and do cel shaded coloring.  She actually does it all digitally, and paints the colors on like markers.  I learned a lot from that, but also learned, I really like my way better.

Something I didn't expect, though, was how long it would take to tell the story.  My time in Seattle was fraught with setbacks and failures.  Between losing jobs, losing apartments, losing a fiancee, losing yet another house, becoming diabetic, damaged eyesight and everything else, my little three month crossover became a three YEAR crossover.  A running joke between us was that I was drawing more Venus Envy than she was over those three years.

Who knows, if she picks up Venus Envy we may see what the heck Zoe was doing in that bee outfit.

Something tells me we’re not getting that answer any time soon! LOL. So getting back to your own experiences… You mentioned that very little informs Closetspace directly.  Now, if I remember correctly, you said you started transitioning in the late-90’s?

I knew I was transgendered, or at least that something was very, very, very wrong with my puberty in fifth grade in 1985, when the girls went one way, and I went the wrong way. I began crossdressing soon afterwards, and once I moved out in the mid-90s, I lived at home as a woman, and everywhere else as a man. It wasn't until 1997 that I went fulltime (except for a brief stint in 1999, when I was required to go through my probationary period at work as a male). Hormones came in 2000, Been pretty happy since then!

How did friends and family react? What has been the hardest part for you?

My friends were on board with my transition right away. With one exception, no one gave me any guff about my transition, and it was an open secret by my senior year. One person basically went with it for the most part, but I found out later she felt I was a pervert, and only went along with it because she didn't want to lose someone who was otherwise a good friend. We no longer talk.

My immediate family was different. After the shock of coming out had faded, my father was okay with it, although somewhat embarrassed. While he was happy that I was finally happy, it took him a very long time to be comfortable with the idea. My mother and I, however, butted heads quite a bit in the first couple of years. To the point that I felt I needed to leave not just home, but the state in order
to continue with my transition. After I made it, I moved back, and they were shocked, thinking that I'd "gone through that phase already." Only in the last few years has she finally come around, and she has finally accepted me as her daughter… Most of the time.

The hardest part, however, was coming out to the extended family. I come from a deeply traditional and religious Mexican Roman Catholic family. Machismo, which is a term describing the need to be a Manly Man in our culture, is a terrible, terrible thing if you’re gay. When I was about nine, a relative who shall remain nameless attacked me for not being "Mexican enough." If I was going to be beat up for not being Mexican enough, knowing the Machismo culture I felt I was surrounded by, I realized I was in deep, deep shit. So, I essentially estranged myself from them. I went away. For almost twenty years I went away and had no contact with my gigantic extended family. 

Knowing what I do of the culture, I can only imagine how hard that must have been, even still.

Some twenty years later, I poked a few cousins about my transition, and the event went well. I then came out to pretty much everyone, and the news spread like wildfire. The hardest part was the incredibly terrible misjudging I'd done with the family. No one, but no one, questioned my transition. They all went with it, many congratulated me with it, and they welcomed me back with open arms. I'd
misjudged them completely for twenty years, based on one cousin's bad attitude. And I feel terrible about that. It's been about three years since I came out to the family, and I still feel terrible about the estrangement to this day.

At the time things were very different time form how things are today: Gay marriage still seemed a distant dream, and now that's basically a settled issue, and trans-rights are coming the forefront. So while it's certainly different, do you think it's any easier to come out as Trans (or LGB for that matter)
today than when you did?

I do believe it is much easier to come out now than when I did. Now a days, being trans, while not widely accepted, is something that's become part of our culture. More and more, I hear stories of people coming out, and being accepted in families. Jobs even have policies in place for someone transitioning. When I came out, very little of this existed.

In fact, the first support group I joined advocated that if we saw another one of its members in public that we don't actually greet them.  You'd get unwanted attention.  In some towns at the time, such as Houston, I believe, it was actually against the law and could result in prosecution. Things still aren't perfect, but we've made amazing amounts of progress in just 20-some years.

I wonder if you would retell the story you did the other night about the time you first went to the doctor for hormones?

By the time I'd found someone to prescribe hormones, I'd been living as a woman for three years, and had over five years of therapy. This doctor actually didn't require any paperwork for writing prescriptions (although I had all I needed). His one caveat was that he would become my general doctor, and I needed one anyway, so I agreed. We had an appointment or two setting up blood tests and physical tests and whatnot to gauge my general health. We set up an appointment for, what I thought, would be the prescription that would change my life.

I sat down, he sat down, and we had a talk about what was about to happen. The first words out of his mouth were "Are you sure you really want to do this?" I said yes, and he proceeded to tell me about everything that would change and the effects estrogen would have on me. Very in-depth. "You'll grow breasts. And these breasts will not come off without surgery. It will change your body hair, your
body smell, all of your salts. Your urine will even smell different. It's going to affect your mind, and thinking. Some folks have said it's changed their sexual orientation." Once he finished, he told me "I really want you to think about this, seriously. Come back next week with your answer."

I was crushed. I was all hyped up and ready to go. But, he was right. No matter what he said, right then and there, I would have said "Yes, absolutely." If he'd told me to go rob a bank before signing that prescription, I'd have done it. I did think about it, all week long. Weighing everything against
everything else. And it was sobering. Once I took this step, there really wasn't any way back. 
Did I want to commit to this?

I returned to him and he asked me "Well, what did you decide?" I said "Yes. Yes, I want the hormones." He gave me this great big grin, and signed it over to me. I filled it out that evening. That night, before, bed, I looked at the pills I was about to take. There was still one more chance to back out. I took it, and never looked back.

Does Allison represent a person that should have given it more thought then?

Kinda sorta. Allison should have given it more thought, yes. But in the end, her problems ran deeper than she understood, and she fixated on a solution that didn't address the core problems...and in fact, became a problem of its own. She should have thought about it more, yes, but she didn't really
understand what her problem was to begin with.

>Is this the kind of thing that counselors and therapists (whether gatekeepers or not) can truly help someone figure out? Or does this have to come entirely from within one’s self? I always figured if there was one advantage of [the DSM, Gatekeepers, etc…] it would be to help people make sure they were going down the right path FOR THEMSELVES.

In the end, it's your decision - whether it's a triumph or a mistake. While I don't think therapists and counselors should be giving permission to transition I highly recommend this kind of therapy.  Not so much to ask for permission, but to gain your own insights into the why and how of what you're doing. If you're doing your transition for the wrong reasons, I don't believe a therapist should be able to say
"No, you can't have the surgery." A therapist should be able to show you why it's not a good idea so you can say to yourself "This is not a good idea." On the other hand, if you do it anyways, and it's a bad idea, you can't say "My therapist made me do this."

This also has the awesome side effect of transitioning and saying "Hey, my transition was the right thing to do, and I decided it myself!" and taking all the credit no matter what your therapist says, good or bad.

OK… And this is totally a cisgendered person’s ignorance here.. Is Allison NOT really trans then? Or is she trans- but would have preferred to remain non-op, sans HRT? (Or is he tarns and was she just not prepared for the totallity of the change?) (Or should I stop guessing and just let you answer the
question? LOL)

I first came up with the idea for Closetspace in the early 90s, as a kind of way to help me understand what, at the time, I thought was the female-transgender spectrum. We had Carrie, who, like me, was transgendered. She wanted to be a woman, live as a woman, have the surgery, and move on with life as a woman. The prototype of Heidi was someone who crossdressed for sexual release, a fetishist. Victoria was a drag queen. Not part of the transgender spectrum as we know it now, but as the story grew, she became pretty integral to the plot. Becky was our control group – a woman born woman who wants to stay a woman. 

Allison, however, was just a cross-dresser with no real want for surgery, but to live as a woman anyways. In the original plot, Allison's problem was she didn't know if she wanted the surgery or not, and was thinking about it and how it would affect her life. In the current plot - she made the decision and it was the wrong one. She didn't expect she'd be giving up so much of her identity as she ended up giving, and in the end it made her someone she didn't want to be, which we will go more into as her plot progresses. If she wasn't transgendered before her surgery, she is now.

How common is that amongst transgendered people?

I know more than a few who regret their surgeries. But I know many, many, MANY more who are quite happy in their transitions and live the lives they've chosen happily.

Do you have any regrets yourself?

Not at all. My only real regret is I've never been able to afford my own surgery.

Now, the other night, you castigated me a bit (rightly so) for stereotyping all of Texas as the RW caricature that it’s often thought of in Liberal politics as. Obviously, as YOU live in Texas, they can’t ALL be that way! But despite strong public efforts to “Keep Austin weird,” I still submit that Texas hardly qualifies as a bastion of enlightenment: No Gay Marriage, no LGBT Anti-Discrimination laws outside of Austin and San Antonio. And, as you said the other night, a strong propensity to vote Republican almost completely regardless of how they feel about they feel about the issues and the candidates. And don’t get me started on how badly their fucking up the rest of the nation’s school textbooks!

So, first off, what the hell made you want to move back to Texas?! LOL ;)

I was born and raised in San Antonio. I share a deep love for the Hill Country and the amazing history behind it colonization. This has been, and always will be, my home. And no matter where I have moved, I always find myself wanting to go back, to be home. It's where my heart is.  Be it ever so fucked up, there's no place like home.

I can certainly understand that. Second of all... OK, I get that it’s one thing to bash it yourself and another thing for an outsider to, so if a Liberal like me were to go there, what would surprise the most about the gun-toting Lone-Star State?

What nearly everyone I bring to Texas notices: We're friendly. We're amazingly, genuinely friendly. That man walking down the street in his cowboy boots and ten gallon hat that voted Republican in the last general election may have a gun hidden under his duster...but if you smile at him, he will smile back at you.

I recently took a friend through the entire Hill Country, from Austin all the way to Rocksprings and San Antonio all the way to Lake Buchanan. I showed her the ghost towns, the big cities, but mostly the people. And to our credit, we showed her exactly the good-natured, tolerant, friendly people we can be.
Well, with one exception. But high school kids are jerks all around the country.

Yes, yes they are! So, if I can wallow in stereotype just a moment longer, do you own a gun?

I own a Wii Zapper, but never use it cause it's too clunky.  Plus, I only have one game that uses it.

LOL. *spits  out drink* Okaaay… *shakes head* That’s funny. But, in all seriousness, have you ever thought about it? Maybe due to fear of anti-LBGT violence?

While I wouldn't call myself pro-gun, I'm not anti-gun. I'm pro-gun education.

I see a lot of people who post things after every tragedy that say "If I had a gun, that tragedy would never have happened." No, it likely would have been worse, as now you have two instruments capable of killing everyone in the room, and everyone in between in a crossfire. My father taught me at a very young age how to hunt with a rifle, and the education he gave me on it should be given to every single person who wants to own a gun. While I will get one if I feel I need one, I don't have a gun - for EXACTLY what my father taught me: Guns are not toys. They are tools. And a tool for killing. When you point a gun at someone, you can kill that person and anyone else in the range of that bullet, no matter what your aim is. And that's not something you want on your head, justified or not. I will get one if I ever feel I cannot defend myself without out one.  But I've never felt I needed a gun to protect myself.

Now you mentioned being a Left-Wing Liberal in Texas, but having been in Seattle, the people there took you for a… Conservative Democrat? Right-Wing Liberal? I’m curious about some of the issues that would have separated you so much from the pot smokers your Liberal brethren up in Washington?

The joke is: "In Texas, I'm a left-wing liberal. In Seattle, a left-leaning conservative. In Canada, I'm a fascist." The moral of the story is that all politics are local. 

…As one of my favorites, Tip O’Niell, was always fond of saying.

I tend to have a bit of a thing about personal responsibility, though, which gets me pegged as a conservative outside Texas.  When I drive, I wear my seat belt. I don't believe seat belt laws should be mandatory. I used to like to bike ride, but I stopped when helmet laws became mandatory.  I love bike riding, but don't like things enclosing my head (I hate all hats and helmets). As it's the law, I simply stopped biking, although I feel it should be on my head if I don't wear one and have an accident. No pun intended.

Still, I take it that you don’t tend to vote Republican, yes?

I don't vote by party. I will always vote for choice over voting for restrictions, so my vote usually skews leftist. But I find straight ticket voting left-or-right to be an uneducated vote. I vote for who I find offers the most choice. I voted for Barack Obama (I would rather have had Hillary Clinton, but there you are), I'll vote for Wendy Davis come November. In the next election, I'll vote for the one who offers the most choice.

Ah, the doctrine of choice. I can certainly get down with that. ;)

Ok, the other night, you mentioned that you didn’t believe there was a “right way” to be trans, relative to surgeries, hormones, presentation, stealth vs. out, etc… And this seems to be the running theme amongst the (admittedly very few) trans folk I’ve spoken to: Both Christian Beranek and Christine Smith said about the same thing and Evelyn Poor parodies the idea of having to be a “reel womyn” brilliantly over in Trans-Girl Diaries. So… from my very limited perspective, it appears to be a pretty mainstream viewpoint. (With my whopping sample size of FOUR!) But… Where then does the pressure to conform to all of this come from? How does a person get from rejecting the societally ingrained idea that gender has to equal sex, to the idea of FORCING their ideas of Gender Conformity onto everyone who rejects society’s dogma? Is the trans community really this divided about what it means (or TAKES) to be “truly” trans, or are we just hearing from an extremely vocal and perhaps disproportionately represented minority? What’s your take on this?

I find that we're on the edge of a massive paradigm shift in how we view gender. Just a few years ago, we didn't separate sex-assignment and gender. Now, we do. Imagine a rock tossed into a pool. Drops in, and ripples form and spread to the edges of a lake. Now...in the center of those ripples, where the rock went in. That's us. Those are the folks who realize that sex, gender, presentation are all separate things, and that, in general, you should just be comfy in the skin you're in. The majority of society is outside that ripple. They saw the rock go into the lake, they see the ripple coming towards them, but it hasn't hit them yet, so it's not really important yet - or, worse, they see the ripple as an impending threat.

Young trans-folk, born outside the ripple, are born into that paradigm of "Girls are X and Boys are Y." So society tells them, "Well, if you want to be a woman, you're going to have to be the woman society wants you to be" and the conformity, basically peer pressure, starts getting pushed on people. So you have society, and even some trans-folks saying "You're not woman enough, go back to the drawing board" because the ripple hasn't hit their part of the country, or their mindsets.  They don't realize yet that it's okay to "Just Be Yourself" versus "Be the stereotypical woman."

And sometimes, it's hard to un-grain yourself from something so ingrained. To be honest, when I think of a "Cis - Assigned Female At birth" my brain translates that as "Genetic Girl" which was the term used back in the 80s. Also, heavily frowned upon.

Do you think that someone who passes should have an obligation to be “out,” either for the benefit of their SO, or for the trans-movement as a whole?

I don't feel they have an obligation to out themselves. If I could pass well enough to go stealth, I would. But I can't, so, if the world is going to see me as a man-in-a-dress, I'm going to be the man-in-a-dress that teaches them what a transperson really is. I would love it if stealth folk would out themselves and help us, since the public image of us is not very flattering...but if they don't want to, and can live the life they always wanted, I wouldn't endanger that for them.
I’ve heard a lot of criticism of the Human Rights Campaign from the Trans community, that they’ve been consistently thrown under the bus for the sake of the LGB part of the movement. Do you think this is a fair assessment? What’s your take on this?

I think it's a very, very fair assessment. The HRC has repeatedly shown they hold us in a very low regard when it comes to human rights, and have used us as a bargaining chip ("Hey, will you push this legislation if we at least remove the trannies?") in order to get their victories. Chad Griffin of the HRC has recently apologized for this behavior. His apology is noted, but I'll accept the HRC's apology when I see real action.

Do you think LGBT is even an appropriate grouping, given that gender and sexuality, while related, are not the same thing? Or is the group defined by having common enemies than it is by common goals?

I feel we belong in there specifically because of our gender issues. Consider: A man who loves a male bodied person is considered gay. A woman who loves a female bodied person is considered a lesbian. What about a woman, born male, who loves a female bodied person. Or vice versa? Is that gay? Is it straight? Both? None? It’s something to be considered alongside the LGB in the spectrum.

If there was one thing you wanted cisgender people to know or understand about transgendered people, what would that be?

We just want to live the lives we want to live. Trust me - if you let us do that, society will not collapse, god will not send hurricanes or earthquakes in our names, and bathrooms stalls wont' be a place of terror for anyone. In fact, I think we'll be happier over all because everyone will be out of everyone else's business. And if you're not okay with that, if you feel society is better off without us, that's okay, too - because, in the end, our acceptance is going to happen with or without you on board.

OK, the classic hypothetical: If, back at the beginning of it all, Morpheus offered you two pills, one would completely “cure” your dysphoria, effectively making you a cisgendered male, the other would make you into the woman that you’d have been were it not for that “one tiny chromosome” (as Carrie so aptly put it that time on the beach) which pill would you take? (Or would take neither?)

So, you want me to take the blue pill or the pink pill, eh? If I had my druthers, and could take a pill that would make me either a happy male, or happy female, I gotta go with the pink pill. I am who I am today because I'm a woman. And I'd like the carpet to match the drapes.

How do you explain to people that being Trans (or Gay for that matter) is not a CHOICE?

My "choice" led me to be estranged from my family for twenty years, spend a couple of days living in a storm drain, given me more brushes with the law than I'd like, had me screamed out of bathrooms, had me fired from jobs. If I could choose, I'd choose not to have any of that to happen. But in choosing to deny my inner peace in exchange for outer peace, I deny who I am. As another great philosopher once said:

This above all: to thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.

I certainly can’t argue with that! Jenn, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with me. Jen Dolari is the creator of Closetspace and A Wish for Wings, which can be found on dolari.net. If you’d like to support these comics, you can find her Patreon account at: patreon.com/dolari. She also live streams many of the comics, so follow her on Facebook if you’re interested in seeing that.