In A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer and Trans Identities, Mady G. and J.R. Zuckerberg explain the ins and outs of the LGBTQ+ world in a fun but educational way. In this graphic novel, you follow a pet snail, Iggy, who lives with a human who is a queer educator. Iggy is brought to a queer meetup and interacts with a group of wild snails who are curious about the colorful humans sitting around a campfire. Iggy takes it upon themself to various LGBTQ+ topics to them.
The topics covered in the book are: What does the word queer mean, what is gender identity is, what is gender expression, what dysphoria means, what is asexuality, what does it mean to come out, and the queer relationship basics. Each topic covered is a separate section of the graphic novel in which Iggy defines various vocabulary terms that are commonly used in the LGBTQ+ community. This is done by revealing the history behind words or phrases, and even throws in some psychology here and there. The dialogue used in this graphic novel is simplistic enough for a younger audience but not overtly so as to alienate any older readers. It is a book that anyone can read and learn something new.
Advice is also given in each section. The best part about this advice is that it is often universal. It can be just as pertinent to people who identify as LGBTQ+ as those who do not. In fact, some of the advice is aimed at people who do not identify as LGBTQ+ but who may not understand how to treat or support LGBTQ+ people in their lives. However, the biggest piece of advice that resonates throughout this book is that it’s important to be yourself because that’s all you can be. This advice really is something everyone should hear and adhere to in their lives.
Other recurring characters are called sproutlings, playing out the advice given in each section. Sproutlings come in all different shapes and sizes and are often a combination of both flora and fauna. These woodland creatures also don’t reflect any one gender. This allows anyone and everyone to reflect themselves on these characters and sympathize and learn from their lives. Sproutlings are also whole-heartedly kind and understanding toward each other. Although expecting everyone in your life to act like the sproutlings is a bit optimistic, they do serve as role models for how people can be more understanding and accepting of trans and queer identifies.
Zuckerburg’s art is very whimsical and cute. This art style helps keep the topics light-hearted and fun. The lettering is also fun. It’s bubbly and, in places, looks hand-written. However, the coloring is my one and only problem with this graphic novel. Each page is either colored in different shades of pink or shades of blue. This sort of monotone coloring just wasn’t personally appealing and hindered the entertainment of this book for me. Using a mixture of vibrant colors would have been more exciting and whimsical, as the cover does. However, there may have been reasons for this choice that are beyond me.
As a trans and queer person, this book really resonated with me. Many of the topics in this book and the advice given are something I wish I had been told when I was much younger. Undoubtedly, if this book had been published when I was younger, my childhood would have been very different. Therefore, I am excited to see this book reach younger audiences and help them explore and grow into their own identities.
Although this book is meant to teach its audience about the LGBTQ+ community, the book constantly reminds you that your experience may not be the same as other queer people and that the differences between people are to be celebrated and embraced. At its core, this book serves to explain topics in the LGBTQ+ community but also to remind people to love themselves and celebrate diversity.