A Transgender Woman Documented Her Transition Through Moving Comics

Last year, when transgender artist Julia Kaye began going through her transition, she found that despite being "out" to family and friends, she didn't really have any trans people to talk to about her struggles — an experience she tells Refinery29 was "incredibly isolating."
Kaye turned to drawing as an outlet to express what she was going through, and in turn began creating comics that show what transitioning can really be like.
Kaye's comics are poignant, raw, and capture the emotional process behind her transition. As she explained on her website, she drew these comics early on in her transition, and several of them depict how she dealt with occasionally being misgendered. Though she wrote that she no longer feels a lot of the things she put forth in her drawings, her autobiographical comics capture what it was like to go through transition in a society that isn't always sensitive or understanding.
"I started drawing them early on in my transition to help work through the complexities of my daily life," Kaye tells Refinery29. "I found setting aside time each day to reflect and pour my thoughts into my journal therapeutic and by showing my friends I could help them better understand what I was going through."
Kaye, who started Up and Out Comics four years ago, says that she studied illustration at the Savannah College of Art and Design, but didn't start drawing comics until after college.
Since she started her comics, she says that she's received an "incredible" response, and has befriended several trans and queer artists because of it.
"Such an overwhelming amount of trans and cis people relate to the themes and challenges I've faced," she says. "I regularly hear from trans people about how my putting my work online has made them validated and less alone in their struggles."
"My life is so much fuller now that I have the community I so wished I had early on," she added.
Though transition is a deeply personal experience, and each experience is unique, Kaye knows that the process — especially the early days — can be "challenging, exhilarating, and exhausting!"
For anyone going through the same thing, she says, "I recommend finding trans support groups in your area, meeting other trans people and being able to talk about living with dysphoria and other things that come with being trans is so important."
"For me, it helped me realize that I wasn't going through it alone," she tells us. "There are so many of us out there. Above all, as rough as some days may be, it's all so worth it."
You can check out her website here, or follow her on Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook.
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