0064 - Zoa's mouth - 2018.12.24
Hooo boy. This is fraught territory for a cisdude to get into, but fuck it.
The webcomic Questionable Content started back in 2003, and the first strip featured a normal-ass dude who happened to have a comic-relief buddy that was a robot. It wasn't really clear what their relationship was, nor did it need to be - Pintsize was the computer and the family pet and the wacky punchline and that was all he needed to be. In the years since then, Jeph Jacques has done some fairly elaborate and well-thought-out worldbuilding, particularly in the field of AIs, which in his world (unlike mine), have rights and responsibilities and personhoods and genders.
And the problem there, of course, is similar to the problem that superhero comics often face, which is that once you add in such a drastic change, it is weird when you fast-forward a decade and a half and the world still largely looks the same as our real world. (It's also weird that Marten doesn't appear to have aged that much, but that's another issue altogether.)
Anyway, Questionable Content has a trans character named Claire in it. In a strip a while back, she lamented that perhaps one day in a perfect future, all gender-related issues would be solved by fantastical medical/robotic technology, but for now, that was merely a far-off dream. I would argue that, in a world with hyper-intelligent AI citizens and bionic limbs and whatnot, this was a worldbuilding choice that Jacques made, and he made it because he wanted to continue to have a trans character in his strip.
Much like a fantasy writer who populates his dragons-and-magic world with white people, I don't think "realism" really works as an explanation. When you're working so far outside of the real world, what is and is not "realistic" is a choice made by the authour, and should be examined as such. I understand Jacques wanting to talk about trans issues in his comic, they're important issues and they should be talked about. I'd rather talk about the world that Claire laments does not (yet) exist, and what that reality means for what humans are.
Lee Caldavera happens to have tits and a dick, but I wouldn't describe them as "trans" anything. The prefix "trans" would imply that you have a preconception of one thing and then translate or transform or transition to a different thing. In the society of Forward, Lee was a they when they were born, and will be a they when they die. The meat in between may change, but the gender identity is a shrug emoji in the slider between M and F unless otherwise noted.
Hell, I'll talk more about it later. Suffice to say, if (as many readers do) you refer to Lee as "she", know that they would not be upset or offended, they might not bother to correct you, they might even take it as a compliment... but they'd probably respond with "Oh, uh... okay, whatever. Verily, a 'she' I am, milord. Prithee, accompany me to the bear-baiting."
Or, at any rate, they might say that if they weren't cowering in fear of a basic social interaction. As I said, sci-fi/fantasy authours make choices about what to take out of their worlds, and what to leave in.