News! The Fairy Gift Re-release – New Cover – #Trans wins Best LGBT Memoir/Biography at Rainbow Awards!

Hello everyone! Long time, no blog! I hope everyone who celebrates had a wonderful holiday season! I was actually down with a bad cold for most of the holidays, so I didn’t get much celebrating done. I did go and see The Shape of Water, which was excellent and filled the fishman-romance-shaped hole in my heart.

This blog post is just to share a couple different pieces of exciting news! First up, The Fairy Gift has been picked up for re-release by Less Than Three Press! A new, lightly polished second edition will be available for purchase on January 24th, and is has a new cover!

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It’s so pretty! @.@ If you haven’t read The Fairy Gift, it was my first published book, and it’s a fun, sexy fairy tale about a plain young man who receives seductive powers from a fairy and is dragged into a world of magic and romance. And brothels. If you’re up for a light, tropey read, check it out! Pre-order here.

The other exciting news is that the trans memoir anthology I contributed to, #Trans did really well at this year’s Rainbow Awards! It tied for first place in the LGBT Memoir/Anthology category, and got second place in Best Transgender Book. Here’s what they had to say about it:

1) Trans was somewhat painful to read – not by any fault of the author but as a collection of difficult and heartfelt stories it was heart wrenching, but I felt it was a book that needed to be written and will be loved by many.
2) I rather like that each piece was allowed to create it’s own setting. The diversity of the pieces was part of the power of the book. The voice of each essay allowed me to glimpse into different worlds and gave me a clearer understanding of many things.
3) #Trans brings use collection of genuine stories from transgender and non-binary writers who share their heartfelt experiences and insightful thoughts on identity formation and how it has been impacted by technology, film, literature, social media, and music. Well written and edited, this is a must read for youth and adults.
4) #Trans is by turns academic, thoughtful, and provocative, providing insights and deconstruction of what it means to occupy a body in space and time… and how the internet has made it more possible than ever to find the others asking those same questions.
5) Thought provoking and informative, well written and edited, I really loved this book. It sparked quite a few family discussions! 
This was a total departure for me, but I’m really happy with how the anthology came out, and super proud of how well-received it’s been. Evelyn did an amazing job with it!
Well, I think that’s everything. I hope everyone has a wonderful New Year, and gets to read lots of excellent books. As usual, here is a picture of my cat being cute this Christmas:
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Thanks for reading, and Happy New Year!

Visualizing Self: Gender Identity in a Vacuum

Imagine your ideal self. How does it differ from how you look now? Are you more attractive? More masculine, more feminine? Skinnier, fatter? How does your voice sound? How do you have sex?

Now imagine your ideal self again, but in a social vacuum. Are you attractive in the way our society defines attractiveness? Are you masculine or feminine without the societal stereotypes attached to those things? Is the way you want to have sex the way society wants you to have sex?

How much of your ideal self is based on what other people think of you?

For a long time I didn’t want to medically transition. “I don’t want to go on hormones. I don’t want my voice to be lower, or to have more facial hair. I don’t want to have to explain the changes to people.” “My breasts are attractive, I don’t want to get rid of them. How would I explain it to my family?

Anxiety is a bitch. But I’ve been on anti-depressants that help with anxiety for a couple of years now. And I’ve started to realize that my reasons for not transitioning weren’t so much to do with what I wanted, but with what other people expected.

I’ve spent so much time trying to visualize my “ideal self.” Not having a societal representation of non-binary existence doesn’t help. But then again, the societal representation of “masculine” is not what I want to be either. I have to create that vacuum. I have to visualize myself in that space where “masculine” and “feminine” are not personality traits, but simply the body’s response to different hormones.

And more importantly, I’ve had to create a vacuum where who I want to be isn’t influenced by the anxiety I feel about coming out, explaining my androgyny to people, dealing with the response from my family. It’s just… who I want to be.

I do want to have a lower voice. I don’t want breasts. Maybe I do want to be a man,  but I want to be a radically different kind of man than what our current society says a man is.

Coming out sucks. Having to explain myself to people sucks. But it is what it is. And I can’t let those things affect my gender identity. As cliche as it sounds, I’m on the path to being the truest version of myself, and I don’t want to be stuck in traffic anymore.


Life updates!

In January I visited Dr Melady Preece in Vancouver, BC. I sat with her for an hour and talked about my experiences with dysphoria, and my desire for top surgery. At that time she suggested to me the possibility of going on a low dose of androgel to help ease the other symptoms of dysphoria. I didn’t like the idea at the time, but a few weeks later, I emailed her and asked if she could include a recommendation for HRT in her letter to my physician.

A couple months later, my physician received my diagnosis of gender dysphoria and letter of recommendation for top surgery from Dr Preece. He forwarded it to Dr. Bowman in Vancouver, and I’m now on the waitlist for top surgery.

I also asked my physician about my options regarding HRT, and he recommended me to Dr. Tregoning in Abbotsford, who is an endocrinologist who specializes in providing HRT to transgender patients. I made an appointment to see him, and we talked about my options. I stressed that my period was giving me a lot of dysphoria and I wanted a way to stop it without taking a lot of testosterone. I suggested the idea of estrogen blockers, and we decided to try that out.

So as of today I’m three weeks into a month-dose of estrogen blockers, and three weeks on testosterone! And the longer I’m on it, the more impatient I am for the results because, a few days before I started, I posted this picture on facebook:

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…and basically told everyone that I was starting HRT. And now that that’s out of the way, suddenly I do feel like I want the effects of testosterone after all. Hence what this post is about.

I posted about it so publicly because (besides wanting to get coming out out of the way) one of the main reasons I decided to transition medically is because I finally started to see other non-binary people doing it. Visibility and representation are so, so important for trans people. It’s where we look once we’ve finally managed to find ourselves in that vacuum. It can be lonely in there. And I want to be visible to others.


Promo time! I haven’t been working on anything much lately, but here are my three latest projects:

Junior Hero Blues is a gay superhero YA novel I published last year with Riptide Press’s YA Imprint Triton. Sea Lover is a m/m trans romance novella about a fisherman and a selkie that I published with Less Than Three Press also last year, and #TRANS is an independent collection of essays by trans people about their experiences online that I contributed to.

If any of these three interest you at all, please check them out!

And finally, no blog post would be complete without this beauty: IMG_0280

FEAST YOUR EYES!

Thanks for reading, everyone! I know I haven’t been active lately, but this blog still exists, and I really wanted to take the time to talk about my transition. Hope you enjoyed!

#Trans Blog Hop – An Anthology about Transgender and Nonbinary Identity Online

Hi guys! Guess who nearly forgot that I was supposed to write this blog post! In my defense I’ve been working all week and um… it’s  my birthday tomorrow?

b7b5193632599af1554c82fa0950e4f061ad71aeAnyway, this post is part of a blog hop to promote a new collection of essays put together by the amazing Evelyn Deshane called #Trans about how transness intersects with technology and the internet. It’s subject that’s near and dear to my heart because (like a lot of people) I discovered that I was trans because of the internet. If it wasn’t for the community and support I’ve found online, I would probably still be very alone and confused. I believe the internet and online communities have revolutionized the queer experience, allowing otherwise isolated young queer people to discover a community of people like them, to connect and grow together.

My essay, which is called Trans Romance and Radical Love: My Autobiography in Binder Rippers (couldn’t pass that title up,) is about existing as a trans person in the larger LGBT+ romance community. I talk about both the good and bad aspects of it, from discovering my identity alongside other non-binary authors, to the difficulty trans authors in the communities have faced and continued to face. It was actually a pretty difficult essay to write because some of the stuff I talk about is still pretty upsetting for me, but Eve was an absolutely phenomenal editor and she helped me turn my personal ramblings into an essay that I’m pretty proud of.

So, #Trans is available at Amazon and Smashwords now! Here’s the blurb:

#Trans is an essay collection featuring the works of twenty transgender and nonbinary writers as they share their experiences with online communities, video games, and dating apps–among other technologies. Each author’s experience of their identity breaks away from the typical transgender narrative that is predominantly hung up on surgery and medical intervention. While that aspect is still a part of the story for some of these writers, surgery has never been the sole inspiration which pushes these writers forward.

Whether it was the love of a particular movie, the desire to share a feeling on social media, or a song they couldn’t get out of their heads, these twenty writers’ experiences of their identity have been shaped by media, technology, and the internet. And now, #Trans is ready to share with all of you.

It’s also going to be available in print on March 31st. If it sounds at all interesting, please go check it out, and maybe leave a review if you feel up to it! That would be great!

You can check out the official site here, and I’ll list the other stops on the blog hop below.

Thanks for reading, and hope you’re all having a great spring!

#Trans Blog Hop Schedule:
March 10th: Eve Deshane blogging evedeshane.wordpress.com.
March 13th: Erika D. Price blogging on their tumblr.
March 17th Ariel Estrella on their website.
March 20th: J.K. Pendragon on their website.
March 22nd: Gabriel D. Vidrine on their tumblr.
March 24th: Velvl Ryder on his website.
March 29th: Allen Hope on #Trans site.

 

GRNW 2016

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Hello everyone!

I’m writing this from my hotel room in Seattle! We drove down early today, and spent the evening having delicious Chinese food at PF Chang’s, buying lots of body products at Lush, and even more makeup at Sephora. Now were back at our favourite haunted hotel, the Moore, relaxing for our big weekend!

transficsThere are two main events that Alex Powell and I will be attending and speaking at this weekend. The first is TransFics + Love Bites, a free to attend reading at the Hugo House where we’ll be reading snippets of some of our published works, alongside Austin Chant, Tobi Hill-Meyer, Laylah Hunter and EE Ottoman! Then there will be an intermission followed by more short readings by a variety of LGBTQ authors! If you’re going to be in the Seattle area tomorrow (Friday the 23rd) night, please stop by! The readings start at 7PM.

Then on Saturday, the main event! Gay Romance NorthWest 2016 at the Seattle Library! Unfortunately, passes for the event are completely sold out, but if you already have a pass, I can’t wait to see you there!

Registration starts at 12, and then there are panels from 1PM to 4PM. Alex and I, along with the other readers from TransFics will be speaking on a panel called “Trans Authors on Characters, Stories, and Industry” that starts at 2:10. Austin is the moderator, and it looks like it’s gonna be a really awesome discussion!

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I made a bunch of these! Please come by and grab one!

Finally, from 1-6, basically the whole time, there will be a book fair where you can buy books from the bookseller, and from 4-6 there will be an author meet and greet! I’ll be at my table handing out my little business cards and candies that I put together! If you’d like a book signed, or just to chat, please stop by!

Also, when you get a swag bag, check inside for a “Hello, my pronouns are:” tag courtesy of Alex and I! Even if you’re cis, wearing a pronoun tag is a great way of normalizing the idea, and makes trans people more comfortable wearing them as well!

I think that’s everything! There will be an afterparty at the Rendevous after the conference, but last year we were way too tuckered out to go, so we’ll see about that one. XD

We have all sorts of other fun things planned for the weekend, including Alex and I getting matching tattoos and a visit to a cat cafe, The Meowtropolitan! I can’t even tell which of those I’m more excited about. I’ve wanted to go to a cat cafe since I first learned of their existence. I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated via twitter, so feel free to follow me there! I’m @JKPendragon.

And now, I must go wash a green mud mask off of my face and head to bed. Hope to see you all soon!

Cheers!

Rainbow Awards: To Summon Nightmares wins Best Transgender Fiction!

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I am beyond thrilled to announce that To Summon Nightmares received the award for Best Transgender Fiction in the 2015 Rainbow Awards today! This is my first time winning any sort of award for my writing, and I’m so glad it could be for this book, which is so very special to me. ^_^

I don’t have much to say besides a big thank you to all the readers and judges, (I’m so glad you enjoyed my book!) thank you to my fab publishers, Less Than Three Press, and a huge congratulations to all the To Summon Nightmaresother winners and runners up, particularly Heidi Belleau and Rachel Haimowitz, for their very well deserved awards of Best Transgender Romance and Best Transgender Book for The Burnt Toast B&B.

I also can’t help but hope that one day the pool of transgender fiction will be so large and full of talented authors, I’ll have absolutely no chance whatsoever of winning this kind of award. ^-^ In the meantime, I’m just excited to be part of a growing genre, and to be doing my part to make trans people like myself more visible in all sorts of different stories. And I’m going to savor my win, because this is pretty darn exciting.

Love you all, and hope you’re having a wonderful week!

Who I Write For: Trans Books for Trans Readers

Yesterday I came home to a lovely surprise: an email from a reader telling me how much they enjoyed Double Take. Getting personal messages from readers is one of the most rewarding and special parts of being an author, but this message was particularly special. It was from a reader who identified themself as agender, and they wanted to let me know how much they appreciated me writing a story with a non-binary protagonist.

The reason this message really floored me is because it made me remember who I wrote Double Take for. The thing is, when I wrote To Summon Nightmares, I wrote it at least partially for cis readers. I tried to explain Cohen’s dysphoria in the narrative, and show him as a sympathetic trans character that cis readers could relate to, in the hopes that it would help them gain some empathy for trans people.

But Double Take wasn’t written for cis readers. It was written for trans readers, particularly non-binary ones. I didn’t linger on describing the details of Teka’s dysphoria or transition, just stated them as facts. Understanding how and why Teka feels the way xe does about xemself is probably going to be a lot easier for non-binary readers who feel that way also. Not that cis readers won’t be able to relate to Teka – they just have to use their imagination a bit more. And since almost every single book out there features a cis main character, this really flips the tables.

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

This is why it’s so important to write books not just with diverse characters, but with diverse main characters. Because the main character is who the reader identifies with, who they see the story through the eyes of. If a privileged person only ever has to relate to other main characters like themself, that limits their ability to empathise and understand the experiences of people who aren’t like them. And, even more importantly, it’s such a fantastic experience to be a person in a minority reading about a character who is like you for the first time. You don’t have to stretch your imagination to understand what this character’s life is like; it’s your life. It’s relieving and affirming, and really really special, and that’s what I want to do for trans and non-binary readers.

So that email reminded me not to worry so much about whether cis people like Double Take or not, because it wasn’t written for them. I do hope that cis people can read an enjoy as well, but at the end of the day, if other non-binary people are getting a story where they can identify with the main character, and they’re really enjoying it, that’s the most important thing.


Thanks for reading! If you’re interested, you can pick up Double Take here and To Summon Nightmares here.

Have a cat picture!

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The Pronoun Talk

I wasn’t going to write this post. Originally this was going to be some “How to Review Trans Books” shit, but I reeeally didn’t want to do that for two reasons:

1. I really, professionally, do not want to ever write something that would suggest I have anything to say to reviewers about how they should review my books. I understand that reviews are not for me. I also understand that there is a long history of authors being absolute shit to reviewers, despite the fact that reviewers are pretty much integral to their success. Reviewers should be lifted up on a pedestal by authors, not dragged down and attacked.

2. I had really hoped that the few particularly transphobic reviews out there (not of my books, actually, but of other trans books) were just an anomaly. I wanted to believe that they were just trolls who were being mean or transphobic because they could, and that ignoring them was the best course of action.

But more and more I’m seeing reviews of trans books pop up where the reviewer genuinely seems well-meaning, and doesn’t realise that what they’re saying is something that trans people hear over and over, micro-aggressions that end up being incredibly hurtful at the end of the day. I know that if I was doing or saying something that was hurting someone in that way, I would want them to tell me, and I would hope they were comfortable explaining why.

So I’m gonna talk about it.

I am a genderqueer individual. I was assigned female at birth, and I present largely as female for various reasons (see my post about it here) but I’m not really a girl. Not at all. The way my dysphoria manifests changes from day to day. Some days I can’t stand my body. Some days I just feel vaguely disconnected to it. Sometimes when people call me “miss” or “lady” I get a pang in my stomach, like “no, that’s wrong”. Sometimes I just feel tired. But I always have, deep in my gut, this knowledge that I am not a girl, and I’m not a boy either. I just am.

I dealt with this, the sort of weird to uncomfortable feeling I get from being called “she”, by adopting the pronoun “they.” At first it felt weird to me, and sounded off to my ears. But I wrote up an author bio using it, and immediately felt a sense of relief, because even though it sounded a bit weird, it also allowed me to be perceived, at least by people passing by on the internet, as someone who is not female or male. And that was a big, big deal.

So here’s the thing. I know that gender-neutral pronouns are a bit weird. They’re new, and they take a bit of getting used to. Remember when apple came out with the iPad and everyone laughed, (menstruation is hilarious, you heard it here first) but now people say it all the time without a second thought? New words take a little bit to catch on. But they do, and it’s normal. In this case, it’s desperately needed. We have a whole population of people who don’t identify as male or female, and don’t wish to be gendered in every single sentence used about them. The solution was to come up with new pronouns (and I say “new” but most of these pronouns have been around for decades) or to use the pronoun “they”, which has already been used to refer to someone when you don’t know their gender yet (albeit in a slightly detached way) for a very long time.

If you’re not familiar with the term “micro-aggression” it’s basically a very small, minimally offensive thing that someone says or does that would be fine on it’s own. But when it happens time after time, again and again, it’s like Chinese water torture. It becomes unbearable. That’s why a cis person might laugh off having the wrong pronoun used for them once, but for a trans person who has been having the wrong pronoun used for them their whole life, it becomes an awful, hurtful thing whenever someone does it. Here’s a quote from my book, To Summon Nightmares, that explains it a little bit:

“Well, you’re my little sis—” She cut off with an intake of breath and Cohen flinched violently. Niall who had gone into the kitchen to put the kettle on, glanced at Cohen, looking concerned.
It’s okay, Cohen mouthed at him. The line was silent.
“I’m really sorry,” said Halley, sounding wretched. “Cohen, I’m really sorry, okay? I just forgot.”
“I know.” Cohen nodded, trying to breathe. “It’s fine, really Halley. I appreciate that you’re trying.”
“I am trying,” she said. “Really, I am.”
Niall took a step into the living room. “Do you want me to go?” he asked, and Cohen shook his head.
“It’s okay.” Cohen forced a smile into his voice. “You’re my sister, so I can’t be mad at you.”
“Yeah, right.” Halley gave a forced laugh. “Okay, call me tomorrow, kid. You hear me?”
“I will,” he said. “I promise.”
“G’night little brother.”
“Goodnight.”
He hung up the phone, leaning back against the couch and breathing slowly. His tolerance for being misgendered had gone down now that it wasn’t happening all the time. When it had happened all the time, it had just been like a slow burning, unidentifiable sickness. Now every ‘he’ was a relief, and every ‘she’ and ‘sister,’ every mention of his birth name was like a punch to the gut. He hated it.

So we choose a gender-neutral pronoun to avoid the feeling of being misgendered, but all too often a new micro-aggression takes it’s place, in the form of people complaining that our pronouns are too difficult for them. And I understand that it’s a normal reaction to want to talk about how the words are confusing, you don’t know how to use them or how to pronounce them. But trust me, we’ve heard it before, a lot. We know you’re going to have trouble with it, so did we. But it was worth it for us. And if you respect us at all, it’ll be worth it to you too.

The problem that’s come about, particularly with reviews, is that when you’re writing a review for a book, it’s normal to pick apart and critique aspects of the story. The world building didn’t make sense, so-and-so’s character was hard to understand, the made-up language seemed needlessly complex. Those are all valid critiques. The trouble starts when you treat something like gender identity or pronouns as something that the author has similarly “made up” to put into their book. There’s a difference between a world that an author has created from scratch, and a world that actually exists, that the author has researched or lived, and is representing in their book. One is open for debate and critique, and the other is just the way the world is. Complaining that you don’t like it doesn’t really add anything.

And I mean, it’s perfectly acceptable to read a book about, say, a sheep herder, and then say in your review: “I’m actually not a big fan of sheep, and I found it boring and confusing. Your mileage may vary.” But sheep herders don’t hear every day, in a million different little ways, that their profession is stupid and confusing and ridiculous. Or maybe they do. Equal rights for sheep herders?

For me, as a genderqueer person looking for books to read about people like me, it’s really difficult to get on goodreads, find a book that looks promising, and then scroll down to the reviews, just to read a bunch of reviews about how my pronouns are too confusing to be bothered with. And obviously this is a problem that extends beyond and didn’t at all originate with reviews, which is why I didn’t want to make this post all about them. But book reviews seem to one of the spots where the problem is really showing, so I wanted to address it.

Please, if you meet a person who asks you to use gender-neutral pronouns for them, don’t tell them that it’s too difficult for you. If you mess up, don’t go on about how it was because their pronouns are just so complicated, and it’s hard for you to learn how to use them. Just say sorry, and move on. And if you’re reading a book about a genderqueer character, and you don’t want to be bothered with the pronouns, just put the book down and go read something else. Don’t write about how difficult it was for you, or how you felt put off the book by their existence, because genderqueer people are going to see that, and read it.

And trust me, we already know.

My Diverse Books 2015

So, with the #weneeddiversebooks movement still going strong, and everyone tweeting about their hopes and desires for #Romance2015, I thought I’d take a minute to take stock of how I’m doing diversity-wise with my books.

I’m doing this both because I want to highlight and promote my books in the hopes of getting them to people who want to read them, but also because I talk a lot of talk about writing diverse fiction, but at this point I don’t feel like my books 100% back me up. I want to see where I’m lacking, and how I can improve going forward.

I also want to encourage my author friends and followers to do this as well, because I want to read and support all your diverse books as well! So, without further adieu, here are My Diverse Books 2015:

Stories with a gay main character:

Stories with a bisexual/pansexual main character:

Stories with a lesbian main character:

  • None! In fact, I don’t currently have any books published with a female main character. This is something I really hope to remedy in the future, and I currently have two books in the works with female main characters. I’m very excited!

Stories with a transgender main character:

Stories with a non-white main character:

Stories with a main character with a mental illness/disability:

Stories with a main character who isn’t super thin/athletic:

Stories with a main character who is aged 40+

  • None! But people fall in love later in life too, so I want to write about that as well.

So, most of these lists are pretty sadly short. I especially need to make more of an effort to write female main characters, and more trans characters! And the two can definitely intersect. I also want to write more characters with disabilities, and who aren’t traditionally attractive and/or young.

I’m a little worried about this list though, because I don’t want to make diversity in my stories into something that I can check off and then go back to writing perfect white cis dudes. I want to throw out the idea that those characters are the default, and that everyone else is a special alternative. Writing diverse characters means that every time I come up with a new character, I’m drawing from the complete well of human experiences, and getting a new, unique person every time. It’s not about creating a character and then arbitrarily assigning them a minority. It’s about allowing my characters to be that way in the first place. If I chose human beings at random, and asked them to tell me their stories, I know those lists up there would fill up pretty fast. So I hope that in my writing I can reflect that.

Please let me know in the comments if you think of any other categories to add, and let me know the stories that you would like to see in 2015. Thank you for reading, and I hope everyone has a wonderful new year!

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Christmas gave me an opportunity to replenish my stock of cat photos. Feast your eyes on the cuteness!

Imposter Syndrome, Being Femme and Non-binary

Have you heard of imposter syndrome? If you’re an author, you probably have. Wikipedia defines it as “a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.” Authors often believe that they’re not actually a good enough writer to be published, someone obviously made a mistake somewhere along the line, and any minute now they’re going to be exposed as a fraud and kicked out of the author club for good.

What you might not know, is that something very similar often affects transgender people. Not exactly the same, obviously, since being transgender isn’t really an accomplishment, but it’s the idea that while other people with the same experiences or symptoms as you are obviously transgender, and who they say they are, you are obviously faking it. Why? Well, who knows really, but you obviously are.

For instance, for about five minutes yesterday, I became convinced that I’m not actually non-binary because I didn’t identify that way as a child. Never mind that I did actually, I just didn’t have the words for it, my brain will skew my memories in order to try to convince me that I’m not really trans, that I’m just faking it for attention. And I know, anyway, that plenty of trans people didn’t identify as trans as a child. But for those few moments, my brain was desperate to come up with something, anything, to convince me that what I feel isn’t really valid, and that I’m just a fake. This happens to binary and non-binary trans folk alike, but it’s particularly prevalent among NB folks who don’t fit the standard narrative of what a trans person is supposed to be.

The technical definition of a transgender person is “a person who identifies as a gender other than what they were assigned at birth.” That paints a nice, broad stroke of trans people, including non-binary folk, agender, genderfluid etc etc. But the mainstream idea of a trans person is still “a person who rejects the body they were born with/feels trapped in their body, and takes medical steps to transition including hormones and surgery.” This person will also always present in a way which ensures that they pass as the gender they identify as, wearing traditionally masculine/feminine clothing, cutting their hair in an appropriate style, binding breasts or wearing a padded bra, tucking etc.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with people who do identify and present this way. I’m not saying that. But people who don’t follow all those steps, or who don’t feel like they fit into one binary gender or the other, are often thrown under the bus, labelled “transtenders” and told that they’re just faking it for attention. Even on areas of the internet commonly thought of as a safe space for people like me, like tumblr, these attitudes still crop up.

And let’s get this straight. Being part of the trans community is great. You get support, other people who understand you, a community that you can be a part of. But the downside is that you do have to be trans (which for plenty of people, comes with acute dysphoria) in a world where people are constantly laughing you off, calling you a liar, a fake and an abomination. I’m not saying that no one would ever choose to be trans. But it’s not all fun and games. It’s definitely not something that a person would choose just because it sounds like fun.

I should add though, that even if a person does initially start out identifying as trans just because they feel it will help them fit in, or they want to explore their gender identity, that has to be fine as well. The only way to ever come to the realisation that one is trans is to try it on and see if it fits. So everyone should have the opportunity to do so.

So, what with being called out for being fake and a pretender by both myself and others, I sometimes get the desire to prove myself as non-binary. Especially since I am someone who was both assigned female and birth, and presents as largely female.

I did go through a phase where I tried to present as androgynous. I failed hopelessly at it. Why? Two reasons.

1. I’m a 34DD. Let that sink in. Try to hide that under a binder. It doesn’t work. A sports bra flattens them down a bit, but they’re there, and they’re always going to show.

2. I’m a feminine person. I just am. I like pretty earrings and make-up, which is something about me that has nothing to do with my gender identity, but when paired with an afab (assigned female at birth) body, distinctly marks me as female. I didn’t like having to give up being pretty, wearing make-up, wearing clothes and accessories that weren’t all bland muted colours. Because here’s the thing: You don’t realise how incredibly fragile masculinity is until you’ve attempted to fit into it. Especially for someone who is already in danger of being read as female, any hint of femininity destroys the illusion. I had to change the colour of my ipod case because it was too bright of a blue. And at that point I decided fuck it. Why should I force myself to be completely masculine, just so I can be read as androgynous? Why does our androgyny skew so far towards masculine anyway? Why are pants and a watch androgynous, while a skirt and earrings aren’t?

The truth is, you can’t win at being androgynous. Not unless you’re willing to give up your own personal style to fit into society’s incredibly narrow and limited idea of what androgyny is. So fuck it.

Yeah, I wear make-up, and earrings and pretty clothes. You know who else does? Drag queens and lots of gay men who still identify as male. And that’s the real point here: gender identity and gender presentation are two completely different things. I am a non-binary person who presents as female because it fits with my style, and because it’s convenient for me, but that doesn’t change the fact that I am non-binary. Trans people don’t have to dress in a requisite masculine or feminine style in order to be valid in their gender identity.

I go to work every day as a female. I’m read as female, and I introduce myself as a female, and it’s fine. Then I come home and I take off my costume. I go back to being myself. But the breasts won’t come off. I go online and present myself as non-binary, and someone writes that they think non-binary people are just confused and don’t exist. I look at myself in the mirror naked, and see not a man or a woman, but a person who’s body parts just don’t quite fit. And that’s when the dysphoria starts.


As well as being about evil organisations and demons and such, my upcoming book To Summon Nightares also explores transgender themes like dysphoria, and how it relates to relationships and sex. It’s out November 5th, from Less Than Three Press. See blurb and buy links below. Thanks for reading!

To Summon Nightmares

Three years ago, Cohen Brandwein was “Ireland’s Favorite Daughter”, a popular teenage author and internet celebrity. But ever since he came out publicly as trans, the media’s treatment of him has been less than golden, and these days, Cohen is desperate for escape.

When he inherits an old house in the country, Cohen sees it as a perfect opportunity to escape the press and work on his new book. What he doesn’t count on is becoming embroiled in a small town murder mystery and falling for the primary suspect, a man whose reality makes Cohen’s fantasy books seem like child’s play…

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And of course, where would this blog be without pictures of my cat? I did another photoshoot and told her to pose but … well, you know how it is.

IMG_2943Cheers!

1 Month Countdown! – My Fears about Publishing Trans Romance

To Summon Nightmares comes out in just over a month, and I’m filled with both excitement and trepidation.

I’m excited because I honestly believe that it’s a great book, and I can’t wait to share it with the world. It’s probably the best book I’ve ever written, and at the time of writing it, it definitely was. There was a flow to the writing that hadn’t been there before. I knew what I was doing, and although I ended up having to scrap and rewrite quite a bit, I felt confident in my ability to make it To Summon Nightmaresbetter, and to really write something good. I believe that confidence is one of the best tools that an author can have. To make the audience believe that you know what you’re doing, to make the audience trust you, is invaluable.

On top of that I’ve had a couple of people who read early versions go out of their way to tell me how much they liked it, and that it was one of their favourites.

It’s also a subject that is very personal to me, and writing stories with transgender characters is something that I feel is incredibly important. In this story, the fact that Cohen is transgender isn’t just a medical condition from his past (although I think stories that have trans characters without revolving around that fact are important too.) He’s in the midst of the turbulence of transition, dealing with issues of self and self-image, and wrestling with dysphoria. I wanted to get up close and personal with Cohen’s dysphoria, and much of it is lifted directly from my experiences. It’s a story about a turning point, and writing it mirrored and became a turning point in my own life as well.

So the trepidation I’m feeling is because I suspect very strongly that it’s not going to sell well. I shouldn’t care so much, I know. I should be happy if it reaches a few readers who really love it. And it really isn’t about money (although money would be nice, haha.) My last book, Ink & Flowers, did phenomenally well. But hey, it was a contemporary romance with conventionally attractive gay cis boys. That’s what sells. Paranormal fantasy with a chubby trans lead? Probably not so much. I know I’m getting ahead of myself here, and it might end up selling very well.  I’m mostly trying to prepare myself for disappointment. But I’ve read plenty of testimonials from authors who want to write more trans characters, but unfortunately they rely on writing for their income, and trans stories, they say, just don’t sell.

I want to become a successful author with a wide reach. But I don’t want to have to sacrifice writing stories that mean something to me. (Not that I&F didn’t mean something to me, because it did, but so does Nightmares.) So what do I do?  And I know I’m not the first author to lament this. But I do want to be able to retire from my day job eventually. And I don’t want to stop writing trans characters either. The only solution I can think of is just to keep writing really, really good trans stories, and hope they catch on!

Anyway, after all that, I don’t want to be a huge douchewaffle and start pressuring you to buy my book. Instead I think I’ll link to a few romance books about trans characters by authors who I would love to see more trans stories from. If you would too, consider supporting these books!

A Matter of Disagreement by E.E. Ottoman
Breaking Free by Cat Grant
Wallflower by Heidi Belleau
Static by L.A. Witt

If you know of more, please feel free to link in the comments! And of course, you can pre-order To Summon Nightmares here.

And this blog post is now over the recommended length of 500 words, and doesn’t contain anything close to the optimal quota of cat pictures. So I’ll leave you with a photo of my cat and no more words, and that’ll have to do! Cheers!

Girls go crazy 'bout a sharp dressed cat.