When I started transitioning and coming out, in the halcyon days of 2015, I was lucky to do so during the heyday of New York-based indie publisher Topside Press. Topside put out novels written by trans authors, for a largely trans audience. Growing up in the ’90s and muddling through my 20s in the 2000s, I found literature about trans people was largely confined to memoir or exploitative fiction written by clueless cisgender people. Neither were particularly helpful for someone like me, who had spent much of my life using literature and art to try to find answers to the question of what, exactly, was my deal.
The first time I saw myself represented — really represented, not with the bleak, alcoholic nihilism of my poorly considered Charles Bukowski phase, but with the kind of soul-revealing clarity that exposes a painful, long-denied truth — was in Imogen Binnie’s novel Nevada. Here was a character who was a dissociated, substance-consuming mess of a human, who was also trans. In the early, vulnerable days of transitioning, where I questioned my seemingly insane decision to try to change my own gender, having a book that contained characters who shared the same thoughts and struggles as me was reaffirming. Nevada led me to a host of other trans writers: Casey Plett, Ryka Aoki, Morgan M Page to name a few. One of my favorite trans authors from that time was Torrey Peters, who in 2016 self-published a novella called The Masker.
Peters’ characters were some of the most authentic depictions of trans women I had yet to encounter. While Binnie’s protagonist was vaguely aspirational — a witty, passing, punk-rock trans woman on an irresponsible adventure — Peters’ protagonist was a closeted, semi-cross dresser, who grappled with some of the bigger questions about trans identity and sexuality. Questions that, for me, as someone who was trying to figure out how to go through a gender transition and hang on to my career as a high school teacher, I honestly didn’t want to think about. However, seeing complex characters grapple with the same shame and insecurity I felt about my own gender identity and sexuality was kind of cathartic.
“It’s a huge relief to feel that shame dissipated, whether it’s in yourself or empathetically, through characters, to feel a dissipation of shame,” says Peters (see below for my full interview with Peters). “One of the ways I’ve found to make readers empathize with my characters is have them go through the journey of the dissipation of shame, and maybe find that dissipation also in themselves. Shame is a way to make people not talk, right? That’s the function of shame. You’re ashamed of it, so you don’t mention it, you don’t talk about it, and therefore it doesn’t exist. It’s repressed.”
Peters’ new, best-selling, novel, Detransition, Baby is available from One World publishing, an imprint of Random House. Peters’ mainstream success is a major milestone for trans creators, but Detransition, Baby isn’t the kind of niche trans story that her earlier works were. It’s about a cis woman, Katrina, who gets pregnant with her co-worker, Ames, who, unbeknownst to Katrina had lived for a number of years as a trans woman, but detransitioned and was, to all appearances, a cis man. Ames, whose relationship to his natal gender is rocky at best is troubled by the idea of fatherhood. Despite detransitioning, he can’t make sense of himself as a father. He enlists the help of Reese, a trans woman and his ex, with the unusual offer to help him and Katrina raise the child. Reese, who, despite her exciting New York queer lifestyle, longs for the conservative trappings of a kind of Midwestern motherhood, jumps at the chance, turning the straight, cis experience of an unexpected pregnancy into an examination of queer life and community.
While still containing enough “trans inside-baseball” to appeal to a trans readership, it is a story that appeals to a broader audience and that sheds light on the differences, but more often similarities, between the trans and cis experiences.
I talked with Peters about Detransition, Baby, trans literature and more. Read a full transcript of our interview below.
Indy: How were you able to get a book like this published? Is the publishing industry experiencing some kind of sea change towards trans topics, or is this a natural result of the success of mainstream queer media like Drag Race, Disclosure, and Pose? What was it like pitching this book to a publisher?
Peters: I think there has been a change. After Topside [Press, an indie publisher that put out books by trans authors] I was even like, ‘One press is too much.’ Topside ended up as kind of a gatekeeper, and the implosion of Topside had to do with like, ‘Well it’s only publishing white people’ and ‘It’s people in a certain scene,’ and there was a lot of resentment towards Topside as a kind of gatekeeper organization, even though it was run out of Tom’s [Tom Léger, publisher] living room. In 2016 when I published those novellas my whole idea was, ‘Actually I’m going to just circumvent the whole publishing industry. I want trans girls to self-publish and if we self-publish you can write really uncompromising things. The Masker was my first stab at writing something completely uncompromising and basically not having anybody — there was no one to say no to me. It was just me and Adobe Suite and you know, CreateSpace or something like that. I was hoping that lots of other trans girls would publish that way.
It didn’t end up happening. I told people, ‘You can sign in to my Adobe account for free. I’ll tell anybody who wants to publish this way how I did it,’ and I was hoping for a sort of flourishing of self-published trans stuff. Actually, what ended up happening was people called me and they wanted me to be a press and they wanted me to publish their work, which was like, ‘Oh, that’s not really what I wanted.’ It’s interesting for all of the ‘Fuck publishing’ sentiment that was circulating around trans girls, I basically was trying to give people the tools to publish and what people really wanted was in premature of a publishing thing, to say, ‘This is a Topside book.’ People weren’t thinking Random House, but they were like, ‘This is a Topside book, this is a Feminist Press Book, this is something.’ They wanted their work to have a kind of validity, that somebody had stamped it ‘valid.’ I understand that, it’s kind of about the ego, but that was a strange thing for me, because I wanted to share what I had done with those novellas.
I kind of went through a period of — a little bit — disillusionment after I self-published, where I was like, ‘This doesn’t feel like what I was hoping it would be.’ I also began to think a little differently about audience. When I self-published those things I was really writing for a certain type of trans girl. I wasn’t writing for all trans girls, I was writing for a certain trans girl. I was like, ‘I know where to find these trans girls better than any publishing house.’ I know where the trans girls who I want to talk to hang out. I know where they hang out on Reddit, I know where they hang out on Tumblr. I could find them myself, but after I sort of felt disillusioned I started thinking about, ‘What is my audience?’ I began to think of it less in terms of identity than in terms of affinity. There are people, many of whom are trans, who I feel like they understand my aesthetic, they understand what I’m trying to do, and they have a sort of idea about what it means to feel stuck, feel regret, and make hard choices to move forward. I found people who had that aesthetic, and a sort of wounded idealism about it, and I found the people who had that aesthetic in the work of divorced cis women. I read books by Jenny Offill, Rachel Cusk, definitely Elena Ferrante; her ferocity was a huge influence on me. I was like, ‘Oh, these cis women, they’re not telling trans stories, but the kind of ethos and affinity that I see in their work feels like it’s in conversation with what I want to do.’ I’m learning from them across difference, there’s some similarities and some differences and it feels exciting to me. I was invigorated by it.
I began to think my audience not just as trans women, but cis women who had influenced me that I wanted to speak back to. I wanted to speak back to that affinity group that was a kind of Venn diagram of trans girls who saw the world the way I saw it and cis women who maybe saw the world the way I saw it, and the overlap, that was my audience. When I started thinking, ‘How do I reach this audience?’ it wasn’t the same as trying to reach a trans audience. Reaching a trans audience is — I knew how to do it, but I also thought that well, the people who can reach the audience I want to reach are bigger publishers, and the question is whether or not I can be as uncompromising as I previously was when I asked those bigger publishers to hit that audience that I wanted to talk to.
The publishing process was a little bit hectic. A lot of people didn’t get it right away. They wanted it to be a niche trans book, and they’re like, ‘We’ll market this as queer and blah blah blah,’ and I was like, ‘No. It’s not to be marketed that way. That’s not actually what I’m doing. I’m trying to substantiate a conversation between certain types of cis and trans women, and if you make it niche this way, half the participants in the conversation won’t show up.’ So it took a little while. I got an agent through a haphazard process, where an editor approached me first, and the editor introduced me to the agent, but then we didn’t go with that editor. To basically make the publishing industry understand what I was doing I wrote a letter. Normally your agent writes a letter and says, ‘Here’s a book and here’s what's going on.’ Instead, I wrote the letter and I said, ‘Here’s what I’m doing. Here’s who the audience is, and here’s how you reach them. You already have the opera house to reach them, so you should buy this book.’
At Random House and One World there were two editors. There was a pregnant lesbian lady, a woman named Caitlin McKenna, who is my current editor, and there was a nonbinary Asian person named Victory, and they both bet on the book. One thing that happened was there were people inside the publishing industry who understood what I was doing and were willing to execute it. Something interesting is that that was a little bit an anomaly, that I happened to find those people. One World, Chris Jackson took over One World and their mission is to publish diverse voices, and Chris Jackson has a philosophy that, ‘Actually, diversity is mainstream America.’ Instead of thinking that diversity is the outskirts around white mainstream, that actually that’s a distortion. The big, mainstream conversations happening in America are diverse conversations, and therefore if you get a diverse book and you do it well, you are speaking to the mainstream. The mainstream does have interest in that and to basically do away with the distortion that anybody but cis, white heterosexual people in whatever state are the mainstream.
There was a press inside of Random House that had a similar vision as me about how you could speak to audiences. Victory worked at that press, and so Victory is trans. Victory ended up leaving and I ended up going with the other person. I worked with Victory for six months, and then when Victory left to go found a queer Buddhist monestary upstate — which was awesome, I couldn’t begrudge Victory leaving to go do something on their journey that was that cool — I was lucky enough to have One World be like, ‘Well, Caitlin also made an offer on this book. The book’s about pregnancy, queerness. Caitlin’s a queer pregnant woman, you ought to work with her.’ The people who were in the publishing industry were people who shared my vision. I didn’t know there were people inside the publishing industry in 2016 who also want the publishing industry to change, who are working at that. From the outside, the publishing industry looks scary.
It looks monolithic, but actually, my agent is a gay man with a nonconvential gender presentation. My editor is a queer, lesbian parent. My other editor is an Asian nonbinary person. One World has a Black publisher. Finding that within the publishing industry and seeing there are places within the publishing industry that see the world differently was also part of the process, so when you speak about ‘the publishing industry,’ it’s actually, ‘Well, which part of the publishing industry are you actually talking to, and who can you collaborate with, and what are their ethics?’ I feel quite fortunate that I ended up at One World. I don’t know if anyone else could have done what they did with this book, and could have let it be uncompromising, and seen the fact that its uncompromising not as hindrance to selling it, but a mark in its favor.
Your writing has always touched on some very specific, very shameful experiences for trans people such as Fictionmania [a website that hosts and archives trans and gender-exploratory erotic fiction], fetish stuff and awkward parental interactions. Can you speak to how you use overcoming shame as a tool for character development?
The interesting thing about shame is that shame is very painful, to harbor shame. It’s a huge relief to feel that shame dissipated, whether it’s in yourself or empathetically, through characters, to feel a dissipation of shame. One of the ways I’ve found to make readers empathize with my characters is have them go through the journey of the dissipation of shame, and maybe find that dissipation also in themselves. Shame is a way to make people not talk, right? That’s the function of shame. You’re ashamed of it, so you don’t mention it, you don’t talk about it, and therefore it doesn’t exist. It’s repressed. Shame is a great way to have trans women not talk about themselves, a great way to have us not talk about our experience, not be honest with each other. It’s a very effective tool for what a lot of people want, which is to never have to see or deal with trans women. It’s something trans women learn ourselves and we take on. If you talk about, if you’re honest about, ‘What is it I’m ashamed of?’ Oftentimes you learn the shame isn’t rational, nor is it even unique to your trans experience. That’s the way that you learn, ‘Well, this is a shameful thing being trans. This thing that you do should never be talked about.’ But, in fact all sorts of people do the same thing that trans women do.
Cis women also get turned on by the idea of themselves as women. Cis women also enjoy partaking in gender play and femininity, or masculinity, or whatever it is. Saying, ‘Why is it so bad when a trans woman does it?’ and if you start to actually start talking about it, it seems unreasonable that trans women shouldn’t get to feel joy and pleasure in the same things that other people get to feel joy and pleasure in. There’s a sort of relief, or lifting, when you can talk about things that people are ashamed of.
The other thing is that, I got asked at my launch, ‘Isn’t it bad to have mentioned Fictionmania? Now all these cis people are going to look at Fictionmania.’ Sort of. Yea, there’s going to be some embarrassing things there, but whenever you go to a repository of erotica you’re going to find something embarrassing. Go to any repository of cis women’s fantasies — there’s going to be embarrassing shit there. Definitely look at the porn that men consume. Everything in the porn that men consume is horrific. To basically be like, ‘it’s only bad when it’s trans’ — why are we suffering under that unfair burden? On top of which, if you look at Fictionmania, it’s probably the largest repository of trans women’s writing in the world. People talk about [Detransition, Baby] as the first trans book, or whatever, people say that kind of stuff. Well, here’s an archive of millions of words, written by, collectively, tens of thousands of authors, so if you figure there’s tens of thousands of authors, there’s hundreds of thousands, if not millions of readers. If you can take away the question of shame and say, ‘What is this archive?’ You start seeing it as an archive of a certain kind of samizdat, or trans culture that gets passed hand to hand, or people stumble on, that gets built collectively. It’s actually a pretty fascinating, interesting place with its own literary forms and things like that. When you take away shame from it, and you start looking at it like, ‘What is this? Why does it exist?’ The things that seem unspeakable or embarrassing suddenly become archives or repositories of a certain kind of culture, and if we don’t like the culture, if we think this kind of culture is embarrassing, by actually talking about it, we can say, ‘Alright, here’s a bunch of texts we can analyze and see how they look.’ Maybe we have some not-quite-right thinking going into this. Maybe our desires are reflecting a kind of repression or a learned patriarchy. By actually talking about it you can address it, and you can make interesting insights and move forward personally and collectively in a way that you really can’t if you’re like, ‘This shan’t be spoken of.’
In the book you have the metaphor of the juvenile elephants, which is maladaptive bonding, but also the funeral scene, and then Katrina describing her miscarriage to Reese. That struck me as a particularly “trans” interaction between a cis woman and a trans woman. I’ve been in situations where I’ve met another trans woman and within minutes she’s telling me this litany of pretty intense traumas. Can you talk a little bit about how trans women tend to bond over trauma?
I think for me, what’s interesting about trauma in both the book and the way I see it happening in trans communities is that it becomes a reason to not make choices. They’ve experienced trauma, and all the characters in my book have experienced trauma, and the big question is whether or not they’re able to move on from it, whether they’re able to start making decisions, or if they’re just so afraid of touching the hot thing again that they refuse to move forward and they stay in holding patterns for the rest of their life. When I think about the trauma bonding of trans girls, what I mostly see is it becomes a reinforcing way to not make — I don’t mean this in a condescending way — adult decisions, to not move forward, so there becomes a kind of stuckness where the trauma is such that you can’t move forward and then that becomes culturally reinforced because you’re around a lot of other trans girls who also are traumatized and can’t moved forward and in fact resent forward movement in an adult life.
Again, I don’t mean this in a condescending way, but I think there’s a lot of trans stories that, to me, read like YA [young adult fiction]. The arc is a YA thing — who am I? Who’s going to love me? Who can be my boyfriend? What are my parents going to think? These kind of questions. How do I cope with my feelings? Those are fine questions for literature. They’re important questions. They’re not exactly the questions in literature I’m interested in right now. I’m interested in, how are you going to live your entire life? How are you going to have an arc of life so your fifties don’t look like your twenties? A holding pattern of trauma doesn’t seem to me to be able to create a forward momentum, so you have a lot of trans stories that, because of trauma, don’t have a lot of arc to the way the characters move and become almost documentary. These are the bad things that happened to us, so this is what our life looks like. There’s a static-ness to it, because the trauma has been such that it’s hard to try again, to make decisions, to try things, to know that you might get burned and remember the pain of that burn, even as you move forward. It’s extremely difficult, but I think it’s the only way to love, to move forward. That’s what I was trying to do, in terms of trauma, is show how each of these characters is hurt and that the book ends up being a question of, ‘Are they going to make a decision? Or are they just going to stay in their old patterns for the rest of their lives?’
The book delves into a lot of potentially controversial intra-community topics, such as detransitioning. Do you ever worry that you’re going to upset trans people with something that you’re writing, or that you might give cis audiences the wrong idea?
I’m always afraid of that. My feelings get hurt a lot. I see what people say on Twitter. I’m trying to learn what other authors before me have done, which is don’t read what people say. It feels like a kind of pincher. There’s trans people who are, ‘This isn’t me, this isn’t my trans experience.’ I never tried to say it was your trans experience. One of the reasons I don’t do respectability politics is I don’t want this to be universal. I want to have characters go through specific things. I want people to read it like a book. The way you read literature is you look at individual characters and their stories, you don’t look at it as, ‘this is a stand-in for people.’ I don’t read books by other minorities and say, ‘This character is a stand-in for all (whatever group).’ I say, ‘This is literature. What’s this book doing? How’s the author making points through their stories?’
There’s a lot of trans girls who are like, ‘This is wrong, this isn’t what it means to be trans.’ That’s a misinterpretation of how literature works, and it turns into sort of attacks about me and what I’ve done. I feel miffed about that. Then at the same time, the same kinds of thoughts are happening from anti-trans activists who both have these reactions. You both need to learn how to read literature. I’ve seen things that Reese says, in the book, that are clearly Reese’s thoughts and coming from a place of Reese’s character, and they’re attributed to me. ‘Peters says this. Peters says that.’ Peters didn’t say that. Peters wrote a character named ‘Reese’ who said that. This is why we do fiction. Fiction is place where to work these kind of stories out, and I invite other people to write fiction that tells me why I’m wrong, using the tools of fiction. To get mad about this stuff seems to not totally read fiction as fiction, which for me, the whole reason I’m able to be honest, the whole reason I’m able to work as an artist is because I have the tools of fiction. I’m not a personal essayist. I don’t write think pieces, I don’t write articles. I write fiction, so when people get really mad I sort of have to say, ‘One, I think you’re approaching the art wrong, and two, I think that’s what art’s for.’ This is fiction, and this is the exact place to say that stuff that maybe can’t be said in other places.
This book explores the contrasts been cis het and trans queer life, and Katrina dealing with the “ennui of heterosexuality,” with Ames as a kind of bridge between the two worlds. The book grapples with the idea of compatibility between the two and then kind of leaves it open at the end for the reader to decide, but what do you think? Do you think those two spheres are compatible?
I don’t have a prescription for how these two worlds come together. I’m not like, ‘This is how it should be.’ I see a lot of similarities actually, in the way that people act, just with different names. That’s like the scene with the women whose husbands go upstate for the bachelor party and they wear flannel and slam whiskey and the women are turned on by the virile masculinity of their white-collar husbands. Recognizing in that, that there’s a kind of gender play going on, and that trans people would recognize that gender play and have a whole way of thinking around, ‘Oh, these are people affirming their genders and getting turned on by affirming their genders.’ In fact, this is what’s great about gender. You can want to be a gender, and straight cis people also want to be a gender. Those guys who are slamming whiskey and wearing flannel, they want to be a gender in that moment. If you’re a woman and you’re attracted to virile masculinity and guys who can split logs with axes, it doesn’t mean you have to find someone who was born in the north woods and knows nothing but splitting wood to get that kind of turn-on. You can find people that want to do it.
Gender can be fun, and gender can be nice and affirming and feel good. These are the type of things that heterosexuals already do, they just don’t know how to name them. They run into trans people and it seems very exciting that they can name the stuff, but at the same time, when they get excited by it, ‘Oh this is what I’ve always like’ or ‘This is a thing I’ve always done and I didn’t know what to call it,’ they don’t understand the sort of legacy of where that thought came from, and what actually it has cost trans people to be able to name that stuff. The interesting thing is that most of the things that seem really out there in the book are things that heterosexuals do already. The fantasy that Reese has of sex leading to conception, people read that as a super out-there kink, but what that is is just Christian sexuality. It’s the most conservative thing, that you have sex for procreation. Reese’s kink is what every Christian pastor preaches. It’s extremely conservative, and she just wants access to that extremely conservative affirmation, and she’s found this wild, roundabout way to it, but that’s all that’s happening there. The fact that Reese seemingly is having this wildly kinky role-play, and what pastors are preaching from the pulpit are the same thing if you just have the eyes to see it. That’s what I hope this book can do, is just point out that so many of these things are the same if you just look at it right.
The concept of passing is addressed throughout. Reese is clocked by Sebastian, and Amy deals with it throughout, by the end his coworkers think he’s AFAB. Is the concept of passing central to trans experience? Do you think we’ll ever get to a point where it isn’t?
I think the question of passing is a wedge in the trans community, simply because the degree to which it is important for particular people varies so much on the individual experience. That’s why it’s so loaded. The kind of trans people I’ve written about in this book are largely binary, and I think that gives a particular valence to their desire to pass. The fact that if you’re nonbinary you’re presenting in a way that isn’t trying to pass, but that has with itself a whole host of difficulties, which is different than trying to pass, and not passing. It really depends on what kind of trans experience you have, and even within that, how it feels. I think what’s ended up happening is passing has become conflated with attractiveness. I didn’t spend a whole lot of time in this book teasing those two things apart, and I hope to in future work. I hope to write characters where a question of ‘Who passes?’ and ‘What’s attractive’ can be pulled apart because in the end, what happens is a sort of cis passability becomes a stand-in for being attractive and that seems incredibly harmful. A number of the most beautiful people I’ve ever seen aren’t passing, but it took a kind of cleansing of my own internalized transphobia to be able to see them as really beautiful. Meanwhile there’s the question of passing as being simply advantageous. There’s times when I pass not because I’m like, ‘This is what’s good for me’ or ‘This is what feels attractive,’ but because I want to go to the supermarket and I want to buy some detergent and I don’t want it to be a whole mental gauntlet. That has nothing to do with my identity, that just has to do with the logistics of a cis world.
Suffice to say, I think all of these questions are built into how these characters act. It could be its own book, rather than dissecting all of these codes in the behavior of the characters, I’ve written the characters as they comport themselves in relation to passability, and I think trans people can read those codes and behavior without me necessarily unpacking that, and understand what kind of trans women these trans women are, and what their relationship to passability is. Sometimes people ask me, ‘Why didn’t you do this? Why didn’t you do this free indirect style for Katrina?’ That was a choice that I made as an author to focus on the interior lives of the trans women, because I have read that before. I wanted the book to be about 300 pages. It’s already 350, and you start unpacking all this stuff and people are like, ‘Why did you add these essays in the middle of the book?’ Some of it was a question of what kind of a book I wanted it to be, and what kind of themes I wanted it to speak to. Some day, I have some drafts of stuff where the question of passability is central to the characters’ arcs, but this book was more sort of tacit.
You mention the “twitter-tumblr industrial complex,” and give a nod to LiveJournal, what role do you think the internet and social media has had in the development of “trans culture”?
I think it’s had an outsized role, and I think the effects have been a mixed bag. I think it’s a way that a lot of trans people come to understand themselves and come to find their first community. As with the juvenile elephants metaphor, it’s a real scorched-earth kind of place and it’s actually kind of hard to build community in online spaces. Being trans for me is about my relationship to my body and my relationship to other people’s bodies, and obviously these [online] places are completely disembodied and the rules of ‘online’ society feel like the rules of feudalism or something. Different factions and different types of escalation, so on one hand it’s not that great for slow communal way of living, but on the other hand I sort of lament that. I’ve moved away from spending as much time online these days. Many of the authors and thinkers and other trans women I admire that I once knew online have moved away from online. The sad part of making friends online is when people come to that understanding that, ‘This isn’t serving me anymore,’ and they just sort of disappear. That’s the case with many of the Topside people. You can’t find as much anymore because they just said, ‘This is bullshit, I’m out.’ It’s a loss, and as a result, trans culture is constantly reinventing the wheel online.
I’m sure you’ve been around long enough to see the cyclical questions that keep coming up and being answered the exact same way over and over by people who don’t understand that this was done just two years prior, because everyone has left from that cohort. That’s not great, but the other way, I think there are some magical things about gender and transness that are happening online that make me think a lot of the ways of seeing gender, the sort of millennial generation and definitely the sort of Gen-X and boomer way of seeing trans are going away. Phenomenons like femboys, or on TikTok all these hetero boys in skirts. You have these TikTok stars who are five year-olds, who clearly some gender thing is going on with them, and you’re just like, ‘What’s it going to be like for that kid to grow up, with whatever is going on there that I don’t even know how to name yet?’
The cultural boundaries of trans have entered the mainstream in the same way that heterosexual people understand their sexuality in terms set by homosexuals, the sort of Foucault thing. It’s through terms that queers have discussed sexuality that straight people now understand their sexuality, and when they talk about about their sexuality they’re using queer ideas. I think that cis people now talk about their genders in memes like, ‘The two genders’ with random objects. That to me is like, trans thought has permeated the status quo and everybody is thinking about themselves and their genders, culturally, in trans terms. Books like The Argonauts, that’s a book about pregnancy by a cis woman, and she can only understand her pregnancy through trans ideas. With queer thought it took 30, 40 years for those kinds of thoughts to permeate the mainstream, whereas with trans thought, because everything is happening online, and therefore everybody has easy access to it, it’s permeated mainstream thought in less than a decade.
Who are some other trans authors people should check out? Who are you reading these days?
T. Fleischmann’s book, Time is a Thing a Body Moves Through is absolutely gorgeous. I think that book is going to do for nonbinary thought what Nevada did for binary trans women. The book is sort of slow to move because it’s a very meditative experience to read that book. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
I love the writing of Davey Davis, who’s got a new book called X coming out on Catapult Press. Their previous book is called The Earthquake Room and it’s on Tigerbeat Press.
I’m very excited for Jackie Ess, she has a new book called Darryl. She’s a Black trans woman, and it’s coming out in May. This is what I’m talking about in trans culture. The book is about a cuck, a cuckold fetishist. It’s about a heterosexual white guy who has this culture, and she’s a Black trans woman writing it. It’s so smart, how she did it, because it’s trans thought, where you read this story of this person who’s not trans, and the only way you can understand this experience is through a certain kind of trans lens. It’s really brilliant in the kind of subversive work that it’s doing, and the way it breaks the mold of trans writing having to be about trans women or trans experience. It’s great.
Jeanne Thornton has a book coming out called Summer Fun that she’s been working on for almost a decade this summer. Ryka Aoki has a book coming out. There’s a number of books coming out this year that I’ve been lucky enough to get advanced copies of, because I’m interested in trans writers and sharing work and things like that. All of those I’m really excited about.