BORN RIGHT: SURGERY, BODY IMAGE, AND OWNING IT, $9 ppd., black and white w/glossy cover, 24 pgs.

Feb 13, 2020

The surgical autobiography of Minneapolis writer and zinester Emma Johnson, whose zines I’ve dug every time I’ve seen them, chronologizes her surgeries from six years old to her most recent just this year, and the related stigma, trauma, and issues of self-image. The medical establishment is not kind—often least so to those who need the most care—and particularly when it comes to the “normal.” Johnson calls for “a different language of beauty,” in contrast to those who, to reassure, would tell her that they “couldn’t even tell” when she is entirely aware that her face looks different than most. In this language of beauty, maybe we’d all have a little more autonomy over our bodies and appearances. Though I cannot relate to the particular intensity of her medical experience, I saw my own transitional desires reflected in her desire to see herself in a different way than she appeared to the world, and the trepidation that goes into making that happen. –jimmy cooper (Emma Johnson,