Been hunting through BigCloset TopShelf for more good trans fiction about trans characters, and found this:
It kind of strikes me. Being transgendered is a lot like having amnesia. I mean I can know things and I can self identify myself but at the same time when we all start to go through this we really don’t know a whole lot of things about who we are. It’s all Images, those lives we once led, not anything of substance really.
Kind of like our old or otherselves were a movie, one we had watched over and over until we knew it line by line and hated it. Then we start to transition and we’re given the book to read instead and it’s nothing at all like the movie. There’s similarities but it’s really not the same and we all have to start at the first of the book not really knowing what the real story of us is going to be.
I hadn’t heard either of these analogies before – being trans as having amnesia, and transitioning as the experience of reading a novel instead of seeing the movie – but I think they both have some value.
Continue reading 'More trans fiction – it’s like reading a book'»
It’s been quite a while since I’ve added anything to the Trans Fiction section of this website. My reading trans fiction sort of goes in cycles, and very often I’ve been most into reading it when I’m feeling the worst about myself. It’s an escape, very often into worlds where the main character doesn’t choose to transition, but has the transition happen to her. Recently, though, I’ve been seeking out trans fiction which actually involves characters who identify as transgender. (Shocking concept, I know!) Characters who aren’t dragged, kicking and screaming, into some sort of magical or medical or forced transition, but choose to transition for the same reasons any of us choose to do so.
In that vein, I came across The Silence of the Night. It’s not super-long, and it deals with some dark subject matter – child abduction and implied rape – but it’s really a lovely story about a trans person trying to come to terms with her past. I was skeptical at first, but the magical and religious elements all come together in the end. Even I, agnostic at best, found a lot to like in the story, and definitely recommend it to anyone who is looking for a little hope to come out of all the darkness.
SIR Orlando to you
Sorry I’ve been so busy! Here’s a short post while I get some longer ones together.
Last night, before going to bed, I began to read Orlando. Briefly, Orlando is about a nobleman who – after some earlier adventures taking up about half the book – goes to sleep and awakes to find himself a woman, Lady Orlando.
Orlando often comes up in discussions of trans studies, and not without good reason. That said, some say that the character’s identity (and sexuality) stay as “straight male” throughout the book, meaning it isn’t quite as “trans” as is often held. I haven’t gotten to the part about the gender swap, let alone any same-sex relationships, so I’ll hold off commenting. I will say, however, that I’m loving Virginia Woolf’s style of writing, her self-awareness as a narrator, and her willingness to poke fun at the genre in which she’s engaging. I look forward to finishing Orlando (and writing more about it) as well as diving into other works of hers.
A partially obscured shot of a female face. How original for a book dealing with a trans character...
I just finished reading Almost Perfect, a young adult novel about a high school senior, Logan, who falls for a girl, Sage, that he eventually learns is trans. It’s well-written and believable, told from the first-person perspective of Logan, and does a good job of being injecting humor without being light or unrealistic. As someone who is a trans fiction aficionado, it was very refreshing to find a trans main character in a book that isn’t sensationalist or belittling. Or overly optimistic and picture-perfect.
There will be spoilers beyond this point, so consider yourself warned. If you’re looking for a recommendation, I would definitely recommend Almost Perfect. But a title like that should tell you that it has an ending which is – at best – bittersweet.
Continue reading 'Review: Almost Perfect'»
For the last week or so, I’ve been making my way through Angharad’s epic piece of trans fiction, Easy as Falling off a Bike. It follows the tale of Cathy, a trans woman in her early twenties, as she’s pushed toward transitioning, love, and, well, I’ll let the author describe it:
Stella, someone who could get women drivers a bad name, literally knocks Charlie off his expensive racing bike. She discovers that Charlie, a research field biologist, has a secret. He’s gearing up to transition as a woman, only he’s too frightened to do it. Stella takes control and her brother, Simon not only fancies ‘Cathy’ but falls in love with her.
Follow the mayhem, as this romantic and at times adventure story rambles all over the place as they pursue their lives. Keep the tissues handy, it has pathos, humour and real life, as Cathy deals with the triumphs and tribulations of being a woman.
Continue reading 'Trans fiction: Easy as Falling off a Bike'»
It has been quite a while since I’ve done a post on trans fiction, hasn’t it! The LGBT literary site Lamnda Literary had a post a while back by Cheryl Morgan titled Is There, or Should There Be, Such a Thing as ‘Trans Lit’? The post has lots of interesting links to authors who have written on or about trans issues, including links to various trans comics and trans fiction sites. (Some of which I’ve linked to from this blog, and some of which I’d never seen before. Check out both the main post and the comments.)
But I have to admit, I was (and am) a little confused by the question Morgan is asking. It seems self evident – even in the links within her post, not to mention those in the comments – that there is trans literature being generated. (Morgan seems to define ‘trans lit’ as ‘fiction,’ a definition I don’t have any problems with.) More broadly, she seems to be creating divisions where none need be:
Yet what would “trans literature” be like? When we talk about the literature of an identity group we mean that members of the group want to read about people like themselves. African-Americans want books with African-American protagonists; lesbians want books with lesbian protagonists; and so on. But the trans community is very diverse, and different parts of it have very different needs. Cross-dressers, for example, often read, and write, erotic fantasies about cross-dressing. Pre-transition transsexuals reportedly read memoirs and theory voraciously in order to find out if transition is right for them, and how to survive it. Post transition, however, they often settle happily into their preferred gender and have no further need for trans books. They are often content identifying with characters of their preferred gender and don’t want to be reminded of what they see as a painful past life.
Those who regard themselves as in a third gender, as gender-free or gender-fluid, and those who are intersex, will probably want books about people like themselves. Obviously there is a real need for a literature for them. However, they are only a part of the trans community (and apologies to any of them who do not want to be regarded as part of it), so the market is even smaller.
Continue reading 'Trans Lit – searching for our reflections'»
I’ve been reading through a bunch of the Whateley Academy stories over the last few weeks and came to the realization that their organization leaves much to be desired.
I’ve been enjoying the stories a lot, and much of what I’m doing now is rereading pieces I’ve encountered before. Specifically, I’d say the story arcs of Toni, Nikki, Jade, Ayla, and Sara are the most well written, along with the other various stories by those characters’ authors.
But while the order of the stories at Crystal Hall is OK, there have been pretty consistent occasions where I’m not sure if I missed something because the information isn’t supposed to have been revealed yet, or if I missed something because I didn’t read another story I didn’t know was a precursor. Characters traveling freely between authors just furthers the issue.
I know multiple stories covering the same period of time make a simple timeline pretty much impossible…but if anyone over at Crystal Hall is reading this, some sort of order guide would be just lovely! (Or, lacking that, having the date ranges listed along with the story descriptions, so you could know what calendar period the story spans.)
(This is all separate from my love/hate relationship with trans fiction, which I’ll try to cover more in another post.)
I had my showing last night of Trans Form, the show I’m working on for Dec 11-13. (Obligatory plug.) A few friends and artistic peers came to see it, and I really needed their feedback. I hadn’t shown a lot of the new material to anyone, so it was an absolute relief to hear that, on the whole, the show works (and is worth $10). I also really appreciated the feedback they gave last night, and hope to talk more with all of them about places it could be improved.
I bring all that up because I am feeling better about the show, but I’m still feeling like I’m in something of a funk more generally. And, with a recent comment on an older post about trans fiction, I’m reading some new stories and finding them feeding some of the same escapist urges I’ve mentioned in the past.
Continue reading 'The Siren Call of Trans Fiction'»
I’ve been posing that question to a number of different people, and here are some of the responses I’ve received. (Disclaimer: The ‘poling’ I’ve been doing, if you can even call it that, is not in any way scientific. I did not ask for demographic information, and this anecdotal collection was self-selected from people who do read trans fiction to begin with.)
– I never had the courage to come out & someone else forcing me will probably always be just a fantasy.
– There is no sexual stimulation in reading these stories(for me) & the sexually explicit ones are sometimes a turn off. I think, for me, it is just good reading about subjects that are near & dear to me.
– [Trans fiction] stories help me have an imaginary life like I really want.
– I do not think that I am alone to have those stories with us when we have gone to bed. I just hope that they have been as inspirational to others as they have been to me.
And, of course, the seven ‘E’s:
Explore – reading to find new ideas or expressions, to help figure out where one is on the gender continuum.
Experience – to share the thoughts and feelings others have about themselves.
Expand – to widen one’s horizons about the various lifestyles and choices.
Erotic – to engage in a sexual experience which may result in another E – Ejaculate.
Escape – to lose oneself in the fantasy of others when there is no chance of it happening in real life.
Evolve – to help oneself move forward toward a real life goal.
Excuse – to let someone else take charge – to not be responsible for your actions.
How about you, gentle reader? Why do you read trans fiction? (Or write it? Or don’t read it? Or any other thoughts on the subject?)
As a reminder, I’m collecting my thoughts on, and links to, trans fiction here. Enjoy!
I just added a new category to my Trans Fiction page, ‘Offline Media,’ for listing books/movies/etc and placed Supervillainz there. Here’s what I wrote:
From the author’s site: “Supervillainz is a madcap adventure story of a Scooby gang of queer twenty-somethings pitted against a gang of superheroes who believe one of the kids is responsible for their brother’s death.” I think this book is really important becuase it’s about a group of characters who happen to be trans, and while their status as trans feeds the story it isn’t really the core element. That said, the writing wasn’t amazing – it was good, and I enjoyed reading it, but it didn’t blow me away. I do, however, look forward to Goranson’s next book. Buy it now from Chicago’s feminist bookstore, Women & Children First!
As a reminder, the Trans Fiction page is where I’m collecting thoughts on trans fiction, as well as examples that I think are worth reading.