Comic Book Creator Lilah Sturges Tells Her Transition Story

Lilah Sturges is a comic book creator well known for her work on titles such as Jack Of Fables, House Of Mystery, Blue Beetle, JSA, Girl Haven, Shadowpact, Thor: Season One, The Literals, Fables, Booster Gold, Doctor Who, Public Relations, The Four Norsemen Of The Apocalypse, Damsels: Mermaids, Lumberjanes, The Magicians, and the upcoming The Science of Ghosts. A trans woman creator, Bleeding Cool reported when she came out publically, but yesterday she told the full story of that experience on social media, republished here with permission.

I want to talk about how I came to know that I was trans. Not about my initial a-ha moment during which I realized that I might be trans, but the process by which I fully understood it, as they are two separate things. About ten years ago, I was watching the below speech by Lana Wachowski, during which she talks at length about her own growing realization about being transgender, and it unlocked a door in my head, one I had socially ignored my whole life:

After watching the video I cried for a very long time because it was clear to me that her experience reflected my own somehow, and that it had surfaced a bunch of thoughts and feelings I had repressed for a very long time. But after that, things got very complicated. After the initial shock wore off, I was deluged with questions about what those thoughts and feelings actually meant. I'd always known that I was different in some way, but I'd never known how, and this was all very new to me. The idea that I might be trans was *new information*.

The big questions were: am I really trans? How do I know if I'm trans or not? What does it even mean to be trans? Like a lot of people, I'd never really given the idea of being transgender much conscious thought. And certainly not the idea of it being something to do with *me*. I hit the Internet and did a lot of research. I tried to understood what it meant to be trans and at first that just led to a lot more questions. Was I really like the people I was reading about? Who were they? And how did they *know* they were trans? That question, of "how does one know," plagued me for a very long time. Maybe I was just confused. Maybe I just wanted to be different somehow. Maybe I was looking for a way to explain other things about myself. I spent a great deal of time asking myself if I was really trans or if I just wanted to be trans, as if being trans was some kind of identity I could adopt, just as I'd tried to wear so many other identities in the past. Who even *was* I, really? I realized I didn't know.

It's frightening to realize that there are a lot of things you don't actually know about yourself. And to realize that you don't know something so big about yourself is *terrifying*. I was distraught. I lost focus in my life. I obsessed over this. It was all I thought about. I kept waiting for some kind of sign, like a trans fairy who would show up and wave her wand at me, or a document in the mail that certified my gender identity. None of that happened, though, and the questions just lingered and metastasized. For a long time I just… gave up. I figured if I was really trans I would have gotten some clarity on it by then, so I put all of those questions aside as best I could. For three years. I stopped seeing my gender therapist. I told myself a story that I had *had* questions but they were resolved in the negative due to lack of further confirmation. I tried to move on with my life. And it sort of worked. For three years. I did everything I could to put the idea of being transgender behind me and, as I had a lifetime of experience ignoring my gender feelings, I was fairly successful. During those three years I didn't think about it much, to be honest.

But it finally caught up with me, as such things do. It was during a trip to Spain, on the island of Mallorca, while getting a massage from a very attractive Spanish gentleman. He approached me and said, "Relax. I am going to take care of everything," and Reader, I *melted*. While his hands were on me, I was flooded with images and sensations of myself *as a woman* and the experience was so delightful, so natural, so *correct* that I couldn't deny what was going on inside me anymore. I wasn't hypothetically maybe trans. I was a *woman*. And then I went on with my vacation and tried not to think about it. I had a lot invested in being a cis man at that point. I had structured my life around it. I wasn't about to give that up and didn't want to. But the feelings and thoughts *plagued* me and this time I couldn't put them aside. I knew that I was trans now—maybe possibly—I knew it! Perhaps! I started to think about what it would be like to actually transition, to actually live as a woman, and something in me *cracked*.

Once I allowed for the possibility, it was all I could think about. It was all I wanted. But at the same time I didn't want it at all. Being trans, transitioning, was *huge*. It would tear my life apart. It would change everything. As much as I wanted it, it utterly horrified me. I fell into a deep depression. I felt trapped, stuck, mired in a scenario in which there was no acceptable outcome. I couldn't not be trans but I couldn't *be* trans. It was hopeless. I was hopeless. Despair was all I felt. Now I'm going to talk about suicide so if that bothers you, please stop reading and know that the story has a happy ending. Otherwise, keep reading and know that shit gets pretty dark.

I couldn't see any way out, so I started thinking seriously about ending things. I had to choose to transition or not to, and both choices felt completely unacceptable. So that left a third option. I seriously considered it. Very seriously. I went online and posed the problem anonymously to a particular trans subreddit, and I got a flurry of answers but one answer, a truly outside the box answer, a patently insane answer, stood out. The answer was simply "Go ahead and transition, and if you don't like it you can always k*ll yourself later." And in the state I was in, that made *perfect sense*. Let me stop right now and add: THIS WAS NOT OKAY. This was TERRIBLE advice. But for me, in that moment it worked.

I want to very strongly reinforce here that this is not something I would ever say to anyone and it was extremely irresponsible of that person to say it to me. Encouraging self-harm, in any way, is just a total non-starter, and I'm *very* lucky that I took it the way I did. Anyway, I decided to transition. I still had so many questions! But I just didn't care anymore. I needed the thing. And when you need the thing, the questions just have to come along with you. I figured the questions would ultimately answer themselves. Here's the thing: for me, I had to *live* the questions in order to find answers to them. I had to experience it. And the answers came. Some quickly, others over time. But they came. And the answers were all "Yes."

So that's my story. It was long and it contained some singularly bad advice which, again, I do *not* endorse. But that's what happened. That's how I got to here from there. Maybe this will help someone else make the same journey, but with fewer questions. And fewer delays (Somehow in all this I forgot the part where I adopted a radical gender ideology and started pushing the trans agenda. Oh, well.)

Comic Creator Lilah Sturges Tells Her Transition Story
Lilah Sturges photo for GoFundMe

Lilah Sturges has also launched a GoFundMe to help towards costs for gender-affirming surgery. She writes "I've created a fundraiser for expenses related to my upcoming surgery. It's very expensive and I'm still somewhat short. If you feel like my presence here has enhanced your life in some way, I'd appreciate a small donation. Or not! I love you regardless!" Donations can be made here, which she says will get her "over the finish line".

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About Rich Johnston

Founder of Bleeding Cool. The longest-serving digital news reporter in the world, since 1992. Author of The Flying Friar, Holed Up, The Avengefuls, Doctor Who: Room With A Deja Vu, The Many Murders Of Miss Cranbourne, Chase Variant. Lives in South-West London, works from Blacks on Dean Street, shops at Piranha Comics. Father of two. Political cartoonist.
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