People | Comic

My Mother, My Ex, and Facial Feminization Surgery: A Comic

I believe so strongly in the beauty and autonomy of body transformation, but I’m worried that will erase the small visible echoes of my (and my mother’s) history of survival.

This comic is drawn in black and white with ink and watercolor. The text is handwritten. The comic style is realistic but stylized. It is split up into pages and panels within each page. Page one, panel one: a black and white drawing of Zefyr (she/they) in a bikini or bra and underwear. In it, her hair is chin-length and she has glasses. They are holding a phone. The text reads, “I’ve been thinking a lot about facial feminization surgery lately. Panel two: a drawing of a zoom between two people. The text reads, “It really started last January, when a gorgeous ex of min discussed going in for the chop. Panel three: A close-up drawing of Zefyr’s face wrapped in gauze with a bandage over their nose. The text reads, “It unlocked something in me. The idea you could already meet a standard of beauty and still deserve more.” Panel four is of three house plants in pots. The text reads, “ Beauty is tricky because it bears within at the violence of coloniality. Because only certain bodies are considered beautiful. But I still want more of it. The main thing preventing me from facial feminization surgery is my nose.”

Page two, panel one: there is a drawing of a tree trunk with text that reads, “A few years ago, I broke it walking into a tree. A small miracle this is how I broke it, given the regularity of beatings I received growing up.” Panel two: A close-up of Zefyr’s face with a crooked nose. The text reads, “ now I have a small asymmetrical ridge of bone in the middle of my face. You can only see it from certain angles, but I always know it’s there.” Panel three: there are two houses in the snow. The text reads, “my mother has a broken nose, too, but hers is more noticeable. She got it from her first husband when she was trying to leave him. What does it mean to bond mainly through the things done to you?” Panel four: there is a drawing of Zefyr on a bike and speech bubbles coming from outside the frame that read, “faggot!” and “ hey little girl, want to fuck me?”

Page 3 is one panel of the front of a hospital looking eerie. The text reads, “if I go in for surgery, even if I don’t get full rhinoplasty, the face around the nose will change. The context for it, broken or not, will shift. Perhaps another angle of approach is necessary.”

Page 4, panel one: there is a drawing of the front of a house with text that reads, “ when I was in middle school, I was late for dinner one day. I was out with friends. It was summer.” Panel 2: a drawing from inside a house of plates and cups and a window with sun shining through. The text reads, so my father beat me into the corner of the dining room.” Panel three: there is a kitchen table set with a meal and houseplants withering. The tax reads, “it was the first time he hit me, and when he stopped, my flash was pink and tender, but not bloodied. Because of this, for years I thought it in Mercy, I thought I had not even been beaten."

Page 5, panel one: against a black background is a drawing of four faces with different noses, two of the noses are crooked. The text reads, “I like my nose because it reminds me of my mothers. What she went through, and how she survived.” Panel two: a drawing of make up brushes eyeshadow and a mirror. The text reads, “but more than that, I like it for the reminder that not everything we endure will be easily concealeble.” Panel three: a drawing close-up of an eye while having make up put on it. The text reads, “some things, even those caused by accident, remain unalterably visible. There’s a sort of strength in that.”

Page 6, panel one: a drawing of Zefyr on a bed looking at her laptop screen. The text reads, “I believe so strongly in the beauty and autonomy of bodily transformation, but I am worried that will erase the small visible echoes of my (and my mother’s) history of survival:” Panel two: A drawing of Zefyr’s Computer screen. On it is a picture of a person with long dark hair, long lashes and glasses. Panel three: A drawing of the moon rising over an ocean. The text reads, “maybe there’s no easy reconciliation to any of this. Instead, the work is to hold the reality: the force of violence, the force of love, the changes wreaked by both.”

Page 7, panel one: there is a drawing of a surgical platter against a black background. On the platter her number of surgical instruments. The text reads, “I’m trying to change the context surrounding myself while still honoring what brought me here. I think another word for that labor is beauty, too.”