“As a boy, she is fine.” Gender diversity meets the “Boy Scales” in primary school

“As a boy, she is fine.” Gender diversity meets the “Boy Scales” in primary school

Of course when Anthropology News announced a special issue on Graphic Ethnography I had to throw my hat into the proverbial ring. After all, it’s kind of what I do as a comics-based researcher. I was thrilled that they accepted my piece, and that they went along with my plan to make the comic a DIY art experience for readers. You can find the whole thing here: https://www.anthropology-news.org/articles/boy-scales/

This piece gives us a graphic snapshot from the larger ethnographic story of Dani, who is a gender diverse child in the primary grades. As Dani is being evaluated for special supports in her progressive, affirming school, she and her teacher and parents discover that even in the most affirming environments, structures remain rigidly gendered. But what does that mean for Dani? For the rest of us? How many times were we measured and mis-measured because the scales were themselves gendered? Read to find out!

In addition to making a comic about my ethnographic work with gender diverse folks in classrooms and communities, I wanted readers to see how comics could come off the printed page and become little books on their own– Zines–to tell stories in a beautifully condensed but image-rich and thorough way. I’ve written a lot about Zine making and I do workshops on these and other little books (most recently pop-ups!), but I wanted readers of this issue to see how comics of this kind could help them tell their own stories in small but descriptive ways. Thick description was never so elegant as when it is in a tiny little book you publish yourself!

My friend Dr. Jean Hunleth followed instructions beautifully and made the zine! You can too!

Galman, S. C. (2021). Boy scales. Anthropology News, 62 (4) 29-31.

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