This was originally inspired by the suicide of Leelah Alcorn, and was originally posted to Tumblr. Sadly, this is a continuing issue in the trans community: that of parents abusing their trans children, psychologically and otherwise. Leelah, and others, are not isolated incidents. If they were, it would be as easy as saying these parents were simply bad parents — abusive and active inflicting harm on their children — and that it’s only a matter of bad parenting, or “bad families”, or individual situations and choices.
But it’s not.
It is not an isolated incident.
I wrote here about the publication of His Aura, an anthology of transmasculine erotica. I am not an erotica author, but I had a few pieces I’d written for a friend’s project which didn’t pan out and thus needed a home, so I submitted them. I was accepted. Gleefully, and trustingly, I signed the contract. And then waited. And waited. And waited. Payment was supposed to happen a few months prior to publication, and include copies of the book. The publication happened. The payment never did, and those copies never came.
The editor of the tome is “Shaun J. Phree” or Shaun Peterson, though, both could be pseudonyms for all I know. It is convenient he vanished from the web after the publication. He made promises to authors by email to pay us, but never did.
But just so you know. If ever a guy wanting to publish trans fiction appears and has the same name, tell him to go fuck himself rather than submit any work to him. And, as always, for authors working in any genre: be careful as you can.
The only reason I bring this up after so long is that I have the energy to deal with it now, and it I feel obligated to warn people.
ETA: Apparently he now lives here and publishes the book through his personal site so he doesn’t have to pay the authors, the snake.
Dear 22-Year-Old Me:
After getting over the shock of discovering your older self is, in fact, a man, and hairier, smellier, and grubbier than you currently are, I expect you might be a tiny bit disappointed. (But not with the impressively groomed facial stubble.) I know that you didn’t expect your life to be like this, thirteen years in the future. I think you expected to be a university professor by this time (ha ha), rather than some dude who works part time as an adjunct. I think you also expected yourself to have written and published a few novels by now, and might look on this scruffy character — who will be you — as something of a failure. Not only is he one short bastard, and not only has he not even finished a single novel, he does not even give two shits about writing novels anymore. He has all these — novellas and short stories — just simmering away on his mental burners. But what does he really have to show for those thirteen years’ time, creatively speaking?
While I have been neglectful of updating my site or submitting my fiction to magazines, it’s been a long damn year:
- I broke my ankle in three places last June, in an attempt to learn how to ice skate. I was still recovering well into December of last year.
- I totaled my car in a moment of carelessness. (That’s what you get for becoming too wrapped up in an audio book, kids.)
- I fell into a deep depression last December, and it lasted nearly six months. During this time, I wrote very little.
- I broke my wrist in the spring.
- Relationship woes in the summer, which I will not detail except to say there were woes.
So it’s been one hell of a year. I am feeling better, stronger, and more positive in my outlook. But the result of all of the above meant I didn’t submit to short story markets, and I didn’t do much in terms of writing except for the second half of the year. Hence the radio silence over here.
I will write more about what I’ve been working on. But later. I have to go make dinner. 🙂
I have to not give myself too many goals, because then I inevitably have more than I can handle, which means I won’t finish and then I’ll spend a few days hating myself over the not finishing of things.
So. Goals for May:
- Submit all my short stories to one market or another. Send some of them out multiple times to different markets, depending. Just submit short stories.
- Read one book. I know that is not a lot, but I haven’t had much time to read over the past few months. Reading a whole book will be a triumph.
- Finish the last four chapters of my current WIP, thereby completing the second draft. I know I can do it. It’s within striking distance.
- Keep reading about and writing poetry. Even if it’s just a little haiku during lunch.
I think I am going to call it good. This is plenty for me.
May is #writelifemay wherein you blog every day and answer a prompt (below). I thought “what the hell, this looks fun”.
So here I go!
(Image: a smiling man pointing at the bisexual flag.)
This article on bisexuality and bisexual people facing discrimination within the LGBT community gave me some food for thought the other day. Particularly about bisexuality in fiction, and male bisexuality in particular.
I am writing a book with a male bisexual main character. After years of believing himself to be straight, he finds he can have attraction to men, namely his best friend. He has to re-evaluate who he is and how he identifies.
In the first draft, I toyed with the idea of having the character come to some fuzzy woo-woo conclusion about his sexuality, like he was “beyond labels” and “labels didn’t matter” sort of thing. You can tell I did not find that satisfying. In many ways, that is the expected outcome of the kinds of sexual and personal experiences the character has. Doubtless most books would want to solve the problem of his sexuality by tying it up neat in the ambiguity bow — by not answering the quintessential questions about sexuality that this character’s experiences pose.
Ambiguity can be used as an avoidance of the truth. We’ve all been there: that murky place where things are left unsaid, where people don’t not tell the truth, but they don’t make eye contact with each other either. A furtive place, where we hide things by just not talking about them or confronting them. It is in that kind of space that easy answers like “labels just don’t matter” exist. It is in that kind of place we deny experiences and instead opt for a reality that pretends to embrace the complexity of human sexuality, and yet doesn’t.
Ambiguity like this is poison. And it is this kind of poison which is a little too frequently served in fiction, from TV to film to books.