Five Questions With… The Collection (Pt. 1)

It sounds a little ominous, but it’s not. The Collection is an anthology of fiction by trans writers edited by Tom Leger and Riley MacLeod. The below interview questions were borrowed from T.T Jax’s article on the Lambda Literary Review. Interviewed below are Casey Plett, Red Durkin, and Imogen Binnie, three trans women authors who contributed to The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, published in 2012 by Topside Press. The Collection is currently a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Fiction and was selected by the American Library Association on their 2012 list of top LGBT books for adult readers.

Do you consider transgender literature to be based on content (trans characters, trans experiences), theme  (transformation/displacement), form (experimental, hybrid), and/or transgender authorship? None, some, or all of the above? Please explain.

Casey Plett: When I think of trans lit, right now, for me personally, I think of trans content by trans authors. And the odd book by a cis person that involves trans people but isn’t stupid and terrible.

Red Durkin:  For me, trans literature is defined by its content. Specifically, trans lit prominently features trans characters, preferably as the protagonist. Everything else follows from that. I’d reject any classification that limits trans literature to a particular genre or theme.

A lot of people think authorship is important. Until recently, I would have agreed. However, I don’t believe that only trans people can create “authentic” trans narratives. Actually, I think that’s incredibly othering. It sets trans people apart as quintessentially unrelatable to cis authors. Admittedly, cis writers have tended to fail to write realistic, fully-developed trans characters, but that doesn’t mean they can’t. What’s more, I’ve seen plenty of flat, lifeless trans characters come from trans authors. Stereotypes and clichés don’t hinge on the identity of the writer.

Imogen Binnie: The term “transgender literature” doesn’t come up in my life that much, maybe in part because there’s so little “literature” that reads to me like it was produced for trans people?  Though I guess I’m answering my question- I consider trans literature to be literature that reads like it was produced for trans people. I mean, even Kate Bornstein’s first couple books were explicitly inclusive of cis people, they weren’t necessarily for trans people.

I think Whipping Girl was an important turning point in transgender literature. While it was written in a way that included cis people, it also popularized some really useful frameworks of understanding trans experience for trans people.

I keep coming back to this quote from Jean Baker Miler’s Toward a New Psychology of Women (it’s here: http://www.keepyourbridgesburning.com/2012/02/toward-a-new-psychology-of-women/) that describes the moment when the writing of an oppressed class stops using the terms created by the oppressor class and starts coming up with its own terms to describe its own experience among its members. I feel like Whipping Girl was a salient instance of that change starting to take place for trans people. I haven’t seen that change happening in fiction very much, but it’s something I tried to do in my novel Nevada. It’s the premise of Red Durkin’s upcoming novel Ready, Amy, Fire. I mean, it’s been going on in zines for forever, as well as on blogs, email lists and message boards, literally for decades at this point–though those things, of course, tend not to be framed as literature.

So I don’t think it has to be by trans people, or about trans people, I don’t think it’s about form, theme, or content. And my answer ultimately isn’t that useful because how do you quantify the audience for whom a book is intended? Is it a “you know it when you see it” kind of thing? I guess so. One thing that I think this understanding of “transgender literature” does do, though, is explain why so many works of fiction by and about trans people end up being so disappointing for trans people: it’s because despite having trans characters or trans authors, these works simply are not for us.

What are some of your favorite works of transgender literature? Continue reading “Five Questions With… The Collection (Pt. 1)”

Seattle’s 1st Trans Pride

How cool is this? Seattle is having its first ever Trans Pride!

June 28th, 2013

5:00pm – 6:00pm – Assemble in Front of Seattle Central Community College at E. Howell & Broadway St.
6:00pm – 7:00pm – March to Cal Anderson Park
7:00pm – 8:00pm – Keynote by Julia Serano, Speeches and Call to Action
8:00pm – 9:30pm – Performances
10:00pm – 1:00am – Official Trans*Pride After Party Dance! Poetry Slam & More at Various Venues!

Please join us, sign up to volunteer, donate, or find out more information by visiting www.transprideseattle.org

Featuring:
Julia Serano,
Rae Spoon,
Ian Harvey, and many many more!

Endymion Update

For now:

Endymion’s responding well to steroids and antibiotics – his blood cells are fat & new and his count is up only two days after going on them. It’s not like there’s anything to make him a young, perfectly healthy cat, but he’s hanging out for now, & we are very, very grateful.

Thanks for all of your love & good wishes. He really is a precious kid to us.

(My wife took this shot yesterday, out in our garden.)

Stupid White People


This is one of the best things ever.

Endymion

endymion meSo our big Endymion is on his way out of this world, but right now he’s stable – on a mix of steroids and antibiotics, with another trip to the vet for bloodwork tomorrow. He was  severely anemic and jaundiced yesterday at the vet, and although the jaundice seems to have diminished, he still seems very, very tired.

But he did decide to hang around long enough for his mom to get back here and kiss his big head.

Thanks for all the good thoughts and prayers. We’d rather him around forever, but not if he’s suffering, so we’ll see what shitty decisions we’ll have to make, or not.

(This is one of my favorites of the big goober, taken back in Brooklyn.)

Emergency Ride from Milwaukee > Appleton

(I’ve gotten a ride. Thank you all for helping out by re-posting this note.)

Hello all

I desperately need an emergency ride from Milwaukee airport to Appleton. I’m arriving at 2:30 & want to leave right away.

Our Endymion is dying. We’ve made him comfy & he’s at home, but I’d like to be able to say goodbye. I can’t change my flights, and because of my stupid probationary license, I can’t rent a car.

If you know anyone who might be able to do this, even if you can’t, please pass it on. Obviously I’ll pay for gas & consider any other requests for remuneration.

Thanks.

Helen

Portland!

And now I’m in Portland visiting with an old, old friend – the one I used to read old sexology books with in the library in high school – and meeting her husband and her two year old son for the very first time.

Seattle was too amazing. I already miss it.

I’m back in Wisconsin Tuesday.

TLDEF’s Annual Benefit

Trans Legal Defense and Education Fund is a really organization, and their annual gala & fundraiser is coming up. I’m told it’s a fun, classy affair.

It will take place on Monday, June 3, from 6:30-8:30 PM, at the Art Directors Club Gallery at 106 W. 29th Street.

The FB Event page is here.

Also, if you’re trans & would like to go but can’t afford it, email me & I can put you in touch with someone who might be able to help.

Seattle

Okay, I’m in love with Seattle. There are bike paths everywhere, dorks everywhere, the weather is gorgeous (sunny inbetween mild and gloomy days) and I’ve met some amazing people, got to see a few people I haven’t seen in a very long time, and otherwise am so totally impressed with the place it’s ridiculous.

Tonight in Seattle: Me + GJL

I’m teaming up with Gender Justice League to do a small event tonight, Tuesday 5/21, at 7PM. If you can join us, please let them know you’ll be attending. If you click on the calendar entry for tonight’s meeting, you’ll find the name of the venue & directions.

Two Tune Tuesday: Nancy Wilson

It really doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

May 19

Today would have been my dad’s 85th birthday. He used to joke, whenever someone complained about getting older, that the only other option was worse. He never really did complain about getting older himself and didn’t talk much about aches and pains. He was just kind of angry when he didn’t feel well, which is maybe an odd reaction, but it does bring some relief that he didn’t suffer for very long and didn’t have a long, drawn-out illness. He would have been pretty miserable with that kind of thing.

But. Still.

Sons of Tennessee Williams

This looks great.

Queens all over the country were the ones who got the crossdressing laws off the books.

The Blame Game

I wrote this recently in response to a question, or an assertion, that nobody chooses to be born trans, but that often, the advice is that you can choose what to do about it. My wife says that a lot, and it makes some trans people unhappy. The way she puts it: you got a shit hand, but you still get to decide how to play it.

Whether or not to transition itself is a choice is an idea I will leave for another day. But here, in a nutshell, are some basic tenets I hope are useful.

does it matter why?

i don’t know what trans is – genetic, medical condition, etc.

no one makes any distinction between nature/nurture anymore. nature is what? DNA? as in, something made out of protein that is created within a physical environment which is impacted by all our culture. just forget it. that binary is over, done with.

are people trans?

yes.

do they need to transition?

yes.

should they own their shit & do so as responsibly as possible?

yes.

should cis people start to fucking understand transness is not going anywhere, that it IS, in the same way that, say, queerness IS?

yes.

if you got married & you’re trans & you’re going to transition you’re going to wreck your wife’s life, pretty much. own it. minimize the damage however you can.

your life was already wrecked by transphobia and represssion and who knows what else.

your transition will give you the chance to change in a way that you’re looking forward to. your wife may, in turn, change her life into something she wants, too, but in either case, you will both experience a great deal of loss. none of it is fair, not a damn thing about it, & not for anyone.

but stop, STOP, making it all about you. if there is anything i say to trans people all the time that none of you listen to – & that includes my lovely spouse – that is it.

as she likes to say: trans people make Narcissus weep.

Jennifer Finney Boylan is Stuck in the Middle with You

Here she is on the Today show, giving a great interview.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Just watch.

The new book is called Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders.

OMW: Seattle

For the very first time, I’m going to Seattle! Today’s a travel day, so I may not get emails and the like until I’m back on terra firma.

Feminist Porn?

The Feminist Porn Book is out. Here’s one of my favorite excerpts, by none other than the amazing Nina Hartley, which I’ve gone and excerpted:

Actress Cornelia Otis Skinner said, Woman’s virtue is man’s greatest invention. That phrase is both true and telling: everyday men and women both carry the heavy load and pay the cost for this retrograde notion of virtue. Female sexual agency remains a contentious subject that sparks fierce debate and displays of moral outrage, bigotry, and murderous violence. Our culture continues to punish women for their sexuality, from woman-on-woman slut shaming, to continuing attempts by local, state, and federal government agencies to limit access to effective family planning. Our country’s honor killings–ranging from the murder of abortion providers to the killing of a partner in a fit of jealous If-I-cant-have-you-then-nobody-can-have-you! rage–are almost always connected to women’s sexual autonomy and/or health.

I love Nina Hartley.

Two Tune Tuesday: New(ish & Old) Bowie

I know it’s been out for a while, but as many of you may know, I’m not a huge Bowie fan. Totally respect the dude, & know that many of my heroes would have been impossible without him, but he’s never quite pulled me in.

But this new video is pretty damned amazing. Bowie as himself, Tilda Swinton as his wife; Andrej Peyjic, Saskia DeBrauw as the genderfuck stars, and Iselin Stero as Bowie the Younger.

(My first thought on seeing it was: hey, that’s kind of our life in Appleton. Kidding. Mostly.)

Enjoy the genderfuck.

MN’s Birthday Present

And… Minnesota gives me the best 44th birthday present!

 

Cool Mom

Helen Keller, left; Jamie Moore’s daughter, right

 

Cool photographer and mom Jaime Moore wasn’t pleased with the “princess makeovers” to be found all over the internets. She wanted to do something that would give her daughter power, pride, and agency, instead of, say, transforming her daughter into a sycophantic dependent. Nutty. So here’s what she came up with instead.

There are other portaits, with her daughter as Jane Goodall, Amelia Earheart, Coco Chanel, and of course, Susan B. Anthony.