Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Intersections of Trans and Lesbian Lit Panel

My wife (Diane Anderson-Minshall) and I just returned from Atlanta where we attended the Golden Crown Literary Society conference. While there, Diane moderated and I sat on a panel about the intersections of trans and lesbian literature. It was interesting to see how lesbian authors deal with trans characters. JD Glass, author of Punk and Zen, introduced a trans character in that book and will be delving into trans issues more in her next book. In Burning Dreams drag king Susan "Smitty” Smith, has a trans character who teaches a bio guy how to be a man.

Although Radcylffe successfully introduced a crossdressing character into her work over a decade ago, lesbian penned trans and genderqueer characters tend to be trans masculine. As our panelist Monica Helms (founder of the Transgender American Veterans Association) pointed out, there are few MTF or trans women characters in lesbian works, though, clearly, trans lesbians--like her—are among the readers.

Still there seems new openness in lesbian literature—by readers and publishers—to address trans issues (at least on the FTM side of the spectrum). When we were first signed to do a series with Bold Strokes, I was originally surprised that I was not asked to assume a pen name. Would lesbian readers pick up a book that was written by man—even if he was trans? I wondered.

At the GCLS panel, Radcylffe (aka Bold Strokes Books Publisher Len Barot) admitted that even 5 years ago I might have been asked by publishers to hide my gender behind a pseudonym, but fortunately, times are changing. Diane jokes that now I’ve become like some kind of exotic fruit or I’m the zebra in the room. I wasn’t the only guy at the GCLS conference—there was one non trans guy who pens lesbian fiction—but I definitely stood out in the crowd.

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