In 2010, I failed our community when I misguidedly published a short story about a transgender woman in my collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls. As with all the stories in the collection, this one bore a title meant to serve as the main character’s *label* or *job*. I wrongly titled the story with the transmisogynistic slur “She-Man.” I’d hoped to write a story that rendered my collection inclusive. Instead, I wrote an offensive story. Its plot rehashed false, abhorrent, and dangerous pop culture depictions of trans women characters; its sentences and imagery endorsed harmful stereotypes and myths. I am so deeply sorry for this. Reading the story now, these offenses sicken me. My level of ignorance at the time was truly astounding. Back then I conflated allyship with simply having good intentions, and I was uninformed in a variety of toxic ways. I have, I hope, evolved a great deal in the past four years, and I am committed to being a trans ally. I cannot overstate how sorry I am for writing this story and for its content, and I want to perform some service to help apologize for my story’s cavalier arrogance.
First, I hope to use whatever visibility and influence I might have to showcase another author who is far more able to write a story that gives voice to a trans woman character. I would like to sponsor a contest for a story that either has a trans woman as the main character, or has issues that effect trans women as its central focus. The judge for this contest will be the phenomenal transgender writer Ryka Aoki, author of the novel He Mele a Hilo: A Hilo Song (Topside Press, 2014) and the multi-genre collection Seasonal Velocities (Trans Genre Press, 2012). I’d then like to replace the offensive story in my collection with the winning story, and offer a 1/3 agreement for all future royalties from this collection: 1/3 going to the winning author, 1/3 going to a trans-positive charity of the winning author’s choosing, 1/3 going to me. I would like to offer $1000 as the prize for the winning story, in addition to future royalties. The winning author will retain all rights to the story. I will provide compensation to the judges and screeners of the contest (full contest info will be posted shortly here).
In the interim while the contest is held, we are pulling the story from the collection’s next printing.
I’ve also signed up for training to become a volunteer with the LGBT Community Center of Cleveland’s writing programs, and have made a celebratory donation to them. For a long time, after my initial defensiveness and denial abated, I felt immobilized. “I’ve done something terrible and there’s nothing I can do about it,” I thought. Luckily I’ve learned to put aside such a self-pitying line of thinking. There’s so much I can do! And in doing what things are available to me as an ally, I hope to work toward helping create a warmer, more aware community.
I want to again give a long-overdue and sincere apology for perpetuating transmisogynistic attitudes and for any offense my story gave. I am very sorry. I will do much, much better, and I am deeply grateful for your patience and the opportunity to try.