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“The Witch Boy” Is a Heartfelt Trans Allegory

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Happy Nonbinary Day, guys! I recently wrote a list of LGBTQ+ graphic novel recommendations: https://illinoiseagle.com/2021/06/22/five-graphic-novels-to-read-for-pride/. After sharing this with my friend, they recommended The Witch Boy by Molly Knox Ostertag (a nonbinary lesbian author). The Witch Boy follows its protagonist, Aster, who was born into a family where it is expected that girls will be witches and boys will be shapeshifters. But even though Aster is a boy, he is drawn to witchcraft. He has not been having visions of animals to shapeshift into like he supposed to. He is warned that witchcraft is unnatural and dangerous for boys, from a story about his grandfather. Aster befriends a non-magical human girl who also feels constrained by gender roles. She loves sports, but her school has very few girl’s sports teams. She also has two dads which was a nice detail! Among Aster’s personal struggles, Aster’s shapeshifter cousins have been disappearing…

Anyway, you might be catching on to how trans this story is. Although, Aster is called a “boy”, even in the title, his identity as a witch seems symbolic of Aster actually being a transgender girl. Ostertag herself has said the graphic novel is about “the feeling of being young and queer, of knowing certain things about yourself and having other things be mysteries” (Rogues Portal). I enjoyed the LGBTQ+ vibes of The Witch Boy and overall message of acceptance, although I will not spoil the details of the ending. It’s great introduction for children about being transgender. I also liked the cartoony and magical art style. I would definitely recommend The Witch Boy!

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