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    Venus Envy is a typical high school romantic comedy, with the welcome addition of lesbians, crossdressers, and of course transsexuals. The story follows ZoŽ, a teenage male-to-female transsexual, as she comes of age, tries to keep her secret, and tackles life's challenges.

    Young Alex has never felt like a boy, and it causes severe depression. After revealing his feelings to his parents, they take him for extensive therapy, and finally agree to let him transition into ZoŽ, a teenage girl. This causes problems in their home town of Punxsutawney, PA, and eventually the family relocates to scenic Salem, where they can get a fresh start.

    Zoe's overbearing mother and overprotective father make her new life interesting, and her little brother's resentment of this new lifestyle and general teen angst don't help. Meanwhile, she makes friends with several of Salem's most colorful residents, including an estranged lesbian, a deep-stealth female-to-male with way too many connections, and the drool-worthy bad boy who wants to reform.

    The series draws on many of the high-school drama clichť's we all know and love, and then spins them off in weird new directions.

    Why make a comic about a transsexual? For starters, it's a segment of the population that you rarely see in entertainment (or at least you didn't when I began the comic in 2001; there are significantly more trans-oriented series these days), and the special needs and circumstances of most transsexuals can thoroughly play hell with the usual genre tropes. Besides, the first rule of writing is to write what you knowÖ

    No, defiantly not. While I am a transsexual, my life has taken a very different path, and while I sometimes mine my history for ideas, the overall plot is fiction. ZoŽ is very much her own person.

    Setting aside both the unflattering stereotypes and the activist hype, transsexuals are people who happen to have a few strange challenges in life. They're men and women born with the bodies of women or men. In order to feel right with their bodies and their role in society, transsexuals often need therapy, hormone treatment, and even surgery.

There are plenty of information sites and blogs out there that explain transsexuality in more detail (and I link to several of them), so if the topic interests you, please read up. It's a fascinated subject. Ultimately, all you need to remember to enjoy this series is that transsexuals are ordinary people who live extraordinary lives.

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