We had the good fortune of connecting with Julia Kaye and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Julia, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
For the past 5 years or so I’ve been using my online platforms to share autobiographical comics about my day to day life experiences as a trans woman- reflections on gender, dating, chosen family, love, anxiety, and everything else under the sun. I started creating and posting these honest reflections because, at the time, I realized that there didn’t seem to be much in the way of broadly accessible trans-related content that spoke to the nuance of my personal experiences. I had dearly wished that there were content or books that I could’ve shared with the people in my life as a way to help explain myself.
As I started posting my comics online, the project gained a lot of traction- nobody had approached the subject matter of going through transition quite in the way I had. The trans community embraced it in a big way, excited to see many of the reality of their own experiences reflected back at them. People have written to tell me that my work helped them realize they were trans, for others it was the catalyst that led them to coming out in their own life. For allies it became a way for them to better understand and empathize with the trans community’s experiences.
My work has since been collected in book format (“Super Late Bloomer” and the sequel, “My Life In Transition”) and often trans folks gift it to family or people in their lives as a way to bridge the gap in understanding. My first book, “Super Late Bloomer” has also become a tool utilized in classrooms in gender study classes and even has become required reading for a class about transgender patient care at a medical college.
Despite my work being published and available in bookstores, I continue to share it online for free to ensure that it’s accessible to as many people as possible. Societal understanding of what it means to be trans is crucial at this point in time and I never want my work to be locked away behind a paywall.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets my work from other comics is baked into the creation process. It goes like this: for 6 months, every single day, I set aside time to create a comic about the most important thing that happened to me emotionally each day, for better or worse. The only rule is for me to be as honest with myself as possible- I specifically don’t think about creating them with an audience in mind else I’ll shy away from presenting my reality as I truly see and understand it, warts and all. Because of this process, when the project is viewed as a whole, the reader is left with a tapestry of micro-vignettes of the countless tiny impactful moments that make up the truly important parts of my life as a queer woman. Some days are happy, some are sad, some are despondent- some events can cause emotional ripples that affect our lives in surprising ways weeks or months later. Because they’re made on a daily basis, the energy of the emotions are still raw, nuanced, and vibrant. My work isn’t a woman looking back on a period of her life, it’s very much alive in the moment and I had no idea what was going to happen next.
It also utilizes the 3 panel newspaper comic format, something most everyone is familiar with. The format gives it broad appeal, quick to read, and makes it super easily accessible to even reluctant readers. This is why it’s been such a fantastic tool for trans folks to give to their parents or grandparents to help them understand- there’s a lot to take in, but it’s deceptively simple.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
While it feels like the worst of the pandemic may be approaching an end soon, it’s definitely not soon enough to be able to answer a question like this! Maybe one day.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Back in my early 20s I was in a relationship with a fantastic, strong woman named Amy and it was during that relationship that I started my comics career (I was making absurdist humor comics at the time). I wasn’t making very much at the time, but she was fine with that because she truly believed in me and my ability. The financial stability she helped to provide played an enormous role in my being able to focus on my development as an artist and eventually flourish.
The second reason I bring her up is because she also provided a safe space for me to find myself. I didn’t always recognize myself as the woman I know I am today- for the longest time I didn’t even know being trans was something one *could* be. And when I eventually did put the pieces together, it scared me so much I did my best to ignore the reality of who I was for as long as I was able. Eventually, when I did come out to her, she provided me space to experiment with my gender identity and expression, at a time when my self-acceptance was at its most fragile. After a lifetime of repression I could fully embrace my true self, it was both terrifying and exhilarating. For that I cannot thank her enough.
Though we eventually ended the relationship, we maintained our friendship. She’s basically family to me and one of the most important people in my life. I’m so lucky to know her.
I hope the uploader did what it was supposed to. It should’ve been a photo of me and 6 comics. Everything is by me.