Hi everybody! Recently there’s been a lot of talk on comics twitter about a comic by Chelsea Cain called Man-Eaters, which is (uncomfortably) similar to Principles of Magic. Both comics deal with young girls who are victimized because of their magic powers. In Man-Eaters, that magic power is turning into a were-cat when you get your period (? ok). Cain has been called out a couple of times for the weird bio-essentialism and terfy themes in her comic, and has not reacted well to any of this.

I’ve been thinking about how trans kids work in Allenar for a little while, but I’ve never spoken about it. Why? What was I waiting for? My NPR interview? Anyway, I figured that I should share my thoughts here. Webcomics are so torturously slow to make and read so it’s likely this will be my only chance to address these ideas for at least a little while.

Magic in Allenar does not work like the toxin in Man-Eaters, or the mutations in X-Men. The adult characters refer to magic as a “curse” or an “affliction” because it is believed that the magic powers some women have are caused by a lingering enchantment. That is, the magic works like magic. It’s not biology or science. You can’t inherit it – but more importantly for this conversation, it doesn’t really matter what gender you were assigned at birth.

Signet is a school for girls because in Allenar, some women have magic powers. No cis men in Allenar have magic. A small percentage of cis women do. But what about trans people? I want magic to be an affirming force in my comic. Even though many of the culturally-indoctrinated characters look at magic as a curse, it’s really a blessing. I don’t want magic to be part of someone’s dysphoria. So I’m of the opinion that trans girls can be born with magic, while trans boys usually aren’t. What of NB kids? Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t.

I’m saying this all while also acknowledging that Allenar is a very repressive place to be right now, and while there are trans adults living their authentic lives (like they’ve been doing for all of history), they are most likely doing so without telling people they’re trans. As for the kids, most of them are probably still closeted. I have plans to introduce a trans character in the future, but that is WAY down the line in terms of where the story is at right now.

I hope literally any of this makes sense, and I hope that my work isn’t alienating to anyone. Principles of Magic is all about the inherent violence of conformity, and I’d hate to contribute to that in any way.

Hyacinth’s joke didn’t go over well. He clears his throat.
Hyacinth: Ahem, anyway…. She never could have imagined what a magnificent place this would be. How many children she would help. Why, we even have children who never left!
He gestures to Aurelie, who sinks down in her seat. She looks like a goldfish who’s been shaken up too much.
Hyacinth: But let’s be honest. The cost of admission here at Signet is prohibitive. You girls know the only reason you can afford to come here is because your parents are wealthy.