A pre-order & a call to action

Do you like THINGS THAT ARE AWESOME? If so, you’ll love what I’ve got today:

PRE-ORDER!

Thank you for your interest in supporting Topside Press and our first book, THE COLLECTION: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard. Two years in the making, THE COLLECTION features the work of 28 authors from all corners of North America. Until now we’ve been completely self-funded, and we’re excited to be able to finally be able to offer you the very first product of this new venture into the landscape of queer publishing.

Pre-ordering this title helps us lower the initial cost of printing the book and will also enable Topside Press to plan additional release events to promote the book and support the authors. It will also help us pay our author royalties sooner, which we’re sure they will appreciate. Finally, pre-sales of this book will help us get started publishing our next great titles, including Imogen Binnie’s NEVADA, due out in March 2013.

Bonus Immortality: In addition to getting a copy of the book the week of its released, we’ll also immortalize each one of our early supporters by thanking each one of you in print in the book itself.

I have a short story in The Collection, and from what I’ve seen of the advance copy, there’s a lot of really excellent writing in it. Though they seem to hold that a transgender vanguard exists (and, more distressingly, that I’M in it. :) )If you’re interested in great writing and voices that go unheard, pre-order a copy. Topside Press has also received a donation to send copies to queer and trans people who are incarcerated, and the press has the potential to become a major force in queer writing. So go support them!

Now, on to some less happy news.

When I sent my story to Topside Press for consideration, I worried about being pigeonholed as a trans writer. Well, I’d love to be pigeonholed, because I just opened a contributor copy of the other publication (Confrontation magazine) that accepted one of my stories this year, and discovered that someone had changed all of the pronouns in my bio to “she” and “her.”

And I’m angry, and frustrated, but not at all surprised.

I’ve been out as a non-binary trans person for several years now, and I understand and accept that I will be explaining my identity and my choices to people for the rest of my life. Even when I want to shut the door to my office and say “Jesus, people, all I ever wanted to do with my life was write awesome books.”

(I’d like to remind everyone that I don’t use gender-neutral pronouns to be confusing, or to make an abstract point about gender – I use them to be able to connect with people on an authentic and genuine level.)

And I’m angry that I’m thinking of the justifications I’ll have to offer to those who protest that gender-neutral pronouns are unfamiliar to most people. Like that it’s terrible and unethical editorial practice to make a change to an author’s BIO without querying the author. When the real problem is that someone decided I was really a woman, and then chose to present me as a woman to the world.

But right now, I’m not interested in losing another day to crafting another angry yet diplomatic email, or in receiveing another lukewarm apology and profession of ignorance. It’s draining, it doesn’t un-print the words, and it’s just too inefficient a way to go about creating large-scale cultural change.

So let’s do this instead:

If this story makes you angry, I want you to channel your energy into an action that makes the world easier for trans and gender-nonconforming people. I don’t necessarily mean buy a book (although Sassafras Lowrey is also dropping an important one in October). Support or propose an anti-discrimination bill or health care initiative in your area. Practice asking people what their name and pronoun is. Change the bathrooms policy at your job. Or do some self-education and spend time reading blogs (I like WeHappyTrans as a starting point).

Be awesome to each other.

What’s Next?

I didn’t know before June 4th, and I don’t know now. :)

But in case you wanted the NYC experience, there are now two live podcasts of our performances: one at Le Poisson Rouge and one at Book Thug Nation with the lovely people from Moonshot Magazine.

Additionally, the more I see of Topside Press, the more I like them – and not just because they’re publishing me and at least one of my Facebook friends. Since I’m probably the only trans person on earth who isn’t writing a novel with a transgender main character, I’m passing this along for signal-boosting purposes: Topside Press 2012 Novel Manuscript Competition.

I think my favorite part of the guidelines is this bullet point:

[The novel should be] about adults. Trans writers (and writers writing about trans people) seem to want to write about being children a lot. That’s cool, but its not what we’re looking for. First of all, it is very difficult to write well in a child’s voice (notable exceptions aside). Second, we think that this drive to write about trans kids comes more from an impulse to justify trans people by saying we were “born this way” and that’s a tired scene.

Other than this, I haven’t had much news to report.

If you live in Chicago, perhaps you’ve heard the news story about the staffing company that abruptly shut down, stiffing almost 2,000 people out of their last paychecks and leaving only a shady and rude handwritten note in the window of their office? Yeah, I worked for them. They owe me about $300 and I’ve filed a claim against them with the IL Department of Labor.

I’m also working on some new material. It’s an autobiographical story about two queer people working in a corrupt and dying hotel bar. And that’s all I say for now…

New York Post #1: The TSA Can Fondle My Package OR How We Almost Opened for Regina Spektor

Coming at you live from my temporary base of operations, the aptly named Cafe Grumpy in Greenpoint, Brooklyn!

I had a fine flight to NYC, despite a nightmarish scenario at airport security in which I narrowly avoided getting strip-searched or arrested. What was I doing? Carrying the packer (link probably NSFW) that I always wear in my carry-on bag. You know, so I wouldn’t look like I was carrying plastic explosives in my underwear when I went through the pornoscanner? My bag got flagged. The agent, sensing that I was agitated, offered me a private screening, but I thought “Oh, great. No witnesses,” and let them whip it out right in the middle of the line.

TSA: Protecting America from my junk since 2002. I’m taking the fucking bus from now on.

So anyway, last night we recorded an excellent show for the CCLaP podcast at Le Poisson Rouge in Greenwich Village. We got there and hipsters were lined up around the block – but it turned out they were there to see Regina Spektor, who was playing a concert there after our set.

I wish I could say that we opened for Regina Spektor. But as John Reed pointed out, since we were performing in the basement, it’s more like we bottomed for Regina Spektor.

Tonight we’ll be at Book Thug Nation in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Oh, and while I’m here, I have another announcement: My short story “Winning the Tiger” has been included in Topside Press‘s collection of fiction by trans and genderqueer writers. I’m planning on reading it tonight for the very first time!

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