The first thing that came to mind when reading this article was my experience with queer representation and inclusion in library spaces. I’m a big user of public libraries, in middle school and high school I spent most afternoons at branches of the Seattle Public Library. Walking up to the teen section and seeing a display of LGBTQ+ books had a big impact on me. Being able to checkout and read books about queer people helped me realize my queer identity and eventually come out. The majority of the books available were about gay men which is a bit disappointing, looking back, but at least there was some representation. Libraries including queer material can make users feel actively included. This summer when I was working in Juneau, AK, I went to the public library there, and much to my surprise there was a display of LGBTQ+ books out for Pride month. Not only did I get to read a really good anthology of queer short stories by Alaskan authors, but I also felt included in the library space. While these are just a few examples of libraries promoting queer books, there is still a long way to go for libraries acquiring and promoting queer content, and trans content in particular.
In “TRANSforming Spaces” Hatfield argues that trans webcomics and the online communities that surround them can be used as a model for trans involvement and representation in libraries. Using Rain and Mahou Shonen FIGHT! as examples Hatfield explains how complex trans identities can be represented in comics. The article also focuses of the fandom communities that surround these comics and how people are able to comment and even participate in the comics by deciding how the plot will progress. This brings together trans readers and allies to form supportive communities based on common interests. Hatfield emphasizes participation as a great strength of webcomics that should transfer to archive spaces.
I agree with Hatfield’s conclusions about the power expanding the model of these trans webcomics to other spaces, but I think that it could go a step further. The elements that Hatfield emphasizes are not just good values and behaviors for library spaces – but are actually just things that make positive and trans-inclusive community spaces and institutions in general. Hatfield mentions the importance of emotional investment, which, I would argue, it’s a goal we should work for across different spaces. Similarly, convergent culture, where content flows across a variety of media is an important tool in community building. Whether it is a Facebook group or a Snapchat filter, or an entire website, these other forms of media can serve to enhance and support existing communities. Being able to participate and have a voice is essential to forming a community. We need to think about how we can actively include trans voices in all spaces, from queer organizations, to businesses, to academic institution. I realize that this is calling for larger change than what the article is referring to, but I think that we need larger change, even if it just starts in smaller places like library and archive collections.
Yet again my reader response is a kinda all over the place and not focused on relating this text to our webcomics in particular, sorry!
Here‘s a “Oh Hey, It’s Alyssa” comic I particularly enjoyed. Though, let’s be real, I freaking loved all of them …I may or may not have procrastinated from doing other work by reading them all.