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When I was offered the opportunity to write the introduction to this, the Strange Horizons Trans Special Issue, I eagerly accepted.  After two years of illness and uncertainty during which I felt useless to my partner, my community, and myself, it’s a joy to find renewed purpose.

Although my academic and creative backgrounds have long been in medieval studies and poetry, my confinement (which, ironically, started almost a full year before the COVID-19 pandemic invited everyone else to join me) allowed plenty of time for navel gazing.

Out the other side of it, in my scholarship and teaching, I’ve become a rhetorician.

Part of my training in that field has been the choice to focus on key aspects of my students’ identities and my own identity, disability and transness in particular.  I could say queerness instead of transness, but that wouldn’t be accurate.  I’m focusing on disability and transness, as well as intersections thereof.  What are disability and transness if not subsets of queerness?

As such, I’ve been hyperaware of issues affecting these communities that I’m part of, as well as the community I’m part of that sits at intersections of the two.  I’ve been performing analyses on everything from what we can learn from anti-trans sentiment on Twitter vs. the way #transtwitter responds to it, to neurodivergent rhetoric and its overlaps with trans rhetoric, to the rhetoric we use in college writing classrooms and how it affects marginalized students.

My trans students are diverse.  Most of all, they are brave.  They ask themselves hard questions on an almost daily basis, examining how language shapes identity.

I ask myself hard questions on an almost daily basis, too:

What does it mean to be transmasculine, but…

 retain a fondness for flashes of femme adornment?

 ruminate continually that binary pronouns don’t fit?

 resent misgendering while I keep my mouth shut?

realize, on some days, gender neutral is more like it?

There are no easy answers to any of these questions.

However, I don’t know a single trans person—in my classrooms or elsewhere; binary, nonbinary, or otherwise—who doesn’t struggle with hard questions of their own.

This isn’t the only thing that unites us.  We may also be biological-sex-nonconforming or intersex.  We may also be lesbian, gay, bi, or ace.  We may also be romantic or aromantic.  We may be a messy, glorious combination of any and all of the above.  Or none.

Trans bodies are BIPOC bodies.  Trans bodies are disabled bodies.  Trans bodies are complex in so many more ways than just our genders, sexes, orientations, and pronouns.

Trans minds are housed within these bodies, our bodies.  Remember that.

I’m weary with the divisiveness I’ve seen in recent weeks, recent days, in circles I’m part of, in circles that overlap with mine, in circles adjacent to mine.  This is too close, too much.

Divisiveness within the trans community anywhere is too close, too much.

Binary trans people don’t get to decide whether or not nonbinary people are trans enough.  There is no such thing as (not) trans enough.

Nonbinary trans people don’t get to decide that binary trans people aren’t genderfluid enough.  There is no such thing as (not) genderfluid enough.

I could type an entire litany of statements containing the insidious kinds of rhetoric I’ve seen used in hurtful, hateful ways within our community.

Don’t we get this enough—too much—from outside?  Why are we quick to forget?

This issue celebrates the best of what happens when we remember.  It celebrates what happens when we remember our creativity, our achievements as artists, writers, and editors.  It celebrates what happens when we care for each other, when we remember who we are.

If you’re having trouble remembering, let this be both a celebration and a reminder.

This issue celebrates everything we are: messiness, complexities, nuances, and all.



AJ's first full-length poetry collection, The Sting of It, was published by Tolsun Books in 2019 and won Best LGBT Book in the New Mexico/Arizona Book Awards.  Their first novel, The Pursued and the Pursuing, was published by DartFrog Blue in 2021 and won 2nd place in the Adult Historical Fiction category of the Reads Rainbow Awards.  AJ holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University and is a full-time English Faculty member at San Juan College.  AJ has been on staff at Strange Horizons since 2012.  You can find them on Twitter and visit their website.
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24 Jun 2024

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