Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag

June 1, 2021 - Diverse Books, Graphic Novel, Reviews
Author: A. K. Summers
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag

A graphic novel that has stuck out to me in my readings is one that was part of my coursework in WGST230: Introduction to Queer Studies. The graphic novel, entitled Pregnant Butch: Nine Long Months Spent in Drag, is an illustrated retelling of author A. K. Summers’ experience with pregnancy as a masculine-presenting lesbian. (Much of the discussion in the class surrounded if “butch” is an appropriate/outdated term; just for some clarification.) Not only does the graphic memoir express A. K. Summers’ personal story, it is clear that LGBTQIA+ and women’s rights are also given a platform in the context of the narrative. Summers wants to combat the essentialist version of a woman; a feminine, young woman who wants to start a family. This was my first introduction to a fully autobiographical graphic novel—I think the format works well. The use of the graphics in a retelling of such a raw and visceral experience heightens the narrative. The illustrations accompanied by conversation put the reader into these situations; a majority of the cells in the work make the reader feel as though they are onlookers in the various instances in which Summers is experiencing mistreatment for her appearance, as at the time she was carrying a child while dressed in ‘men’s’ dress, specifically noting how she finally got to wear suspenders. Summers is also combatting the societal standards of a woman in various ways throughout the novel: lesbian, masculine, and hating to be pregnant. The way she does not fit the societal standards of a woman are obvious in instances where illustrations show her getting dirty looks on the subway or being misgendered.The results of these public moments in which the reader has the omnipotent view, and the private moments in which Summers struggles with her image and femininity are expressed at a deeper level when audience members are able to fully engage with the emotional tolls of the main character.
—Sarah Townsend, CMRD101 Spring 2021