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Research article

Transmediality against Transphobia: The Politics of Transsexual Self-Portraiture in Fumettibrutti’s Work between Comics and Photography


Nicoletta Mandolini

Universidade do Minho, PT
About Nicoletta
Dr Nicoletta Mandolini is FCT Junior Researcher at CECS (Centro de Estudos de Comunicação e Sociedade) at Universidade do Minho (Portugal), where she is working on the project Sketch Her Story and Make It Popular. Using Graphic Narratives in Italian and Lusophone Feminist Activism Against Gender Violence ( She worked as FWO Postdoctoral Researcher at KU Leuven (Belgium) and she owns a PhD from University College Cork (Ireland). Funded by the Irish Research Council, her doctorate project focused on the representation of gender-based violence and feminicide in contemporary Italy. It resulted in the monograph Representations of Lethal Gender-Based Violence in Italy Between Journalism and Literature: Femminicidio Narratives (Routledge 2021). Among other articles on sexist abuse in contemporary Italian literature and media, she co-edited the volume Rappresentare la violenza di genere. Sguardi femministi tra critica, attivismo e scrittura (Mimesis 2018). She is an active member of the CASiLaC (Centre for Advanced Studies in Languages and Cultures) research cluster on Violence, Conflict and Gender, that she co-convened from 2016 until 2019. She is funding member of SnIF (Studying’n’Investigating Fumetti).
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The comic artist Fumettibrutti (nom de plume of Josephine Yole Signorelli) is currently one of the most successful figures of the prolific Italian graphic novel. After emerging from the underground comics scene thanks to an explicitly erotic style that attracted young readers and went viral on social media, Fumettibrutti came out as a transsexual woman with the publication of her graphic memoir P. La mia adolescenza trans [P. My Trans Adolescence] (2019). Since then, the artist has complemented her comics-based autobiography with numerous selfies disseminated on Facebook and Instagram, thus producing a transmedia narrative. The objective of this article is to explore Fumettibrutti’s ability to represent (trans)gender abuse and discrimination using the media of comics and photography and their interaction. This is done by means of a cross-disciplinary analysis that considers the mediality of comics and the convergence of technologies animating the practice of photographic self-portraiture. My contribution looks at the range of cultural products (graphic novels; comics and vignettes published online; online photographic self-portraits) that shape the artist’s transmedia storyworld on transphobic violence, considering both their artistic dimension and their communicative function. In particular, I am interested in understanding if the interplay between a medium that works on the basis of iconic abstraction (comics) and a medium that establishes an indexical relationship with objects (photography) opens up to new possibilities for the representation of discrimination against transsexual women.

How to Cite: Mandolini, N. “Transmediality against Transphobia: The Politics of Transsexual Self-Portraiture in Fumettibrutti’s Work between Comics and Photography”. New Readings, vol. 18, 2022, pp. 88–108. DOI:
Published on 24 Mar 2022.
Peer Reviewed


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