May 18, 2017 § 4 Comments
Or: the ways in which disbelief and suppression hurt trans people. And how, despite it all, we resist.
I’ve checked in and realised how long it’s been since I’ve written here. The reason being that I’ve been caught up writing and editing my first book, Trans Like Me: A Journey for All of Us – published next Thursday on May 25th.
I’ll be writing more on that – what it means to move from blogging to long-form non-fiction, what I’ve hoped to do with the book, what it means for the next year – next week.
Until then, I really hope you enjoy the first extract from the book, linked above. And thank you for all of the support over the years – more on that too, to come.
December 18, 2015 § 9 Comments
So, the reason posting here has been light of late is finally out in the open – my first book is set for publication November 2016, from Virago Books (Little, Brown).
I’m incredibly excited (and somewhat overawed) to get this chance. Thank you all for your support for my writing over the years – I hope to do you proud.
For total clarity: I’m (still!) not a woman – but Virago Books has always published a small number of works by male feminists in addition to their central aim of promoting works by all women (obv. including trans women). I’ve been bowled over by the team’s knowledge and support of trans issues and the need for real trans justice (including their very real acceptance of me as a genderqueer person). Feeling especially lucky to be working with my editor Ailah Ahmed from an intersectional feminist perspective. I’m still writing up, and I hope to have covered all the most pressing points – but if there are resources/points you want to send my way because IMPORTANT then I am very much all ears.
Official press release below, and links to my publisher’s and my agent’s websites.
Writing here will be light while the book is finished – but I think it’s going to be worth it. Thank you again.
Virago Press has acquired an agenda-setting title by CN Lester, a leading British LGBT activist specialising in transgender issues.
Commissioning Editor Ailah Ahmed acquired UK & Commonwealth rights to Trans Like Me: A Journey for All of Us by CN Lester from Laura Macdougall at Tibor Jones & Associates.
CN Lester takes the reader through the most pressing questions in the transgender debate, combined with a charged personal narrative of what it means to be a transgender person today. TRANS LIKE ME shows us how we are all defined by ideas of gender, whether we live our lives as he, she or they, and how we can strive for authenticity in a world which often seeks to limit us by way of labels. It also covers hotly contested topics such as the rise in referrals for gender variant children, feminism’s treatment of the trans community, and the mainstream media’s ‘trans moment’, among much more.
Virago nonfiction publishing has aimed to be at the forefront of discussions about gender identity and politics and so welcomes this title which expands our understanding of the new conversations around gender for a wider audience. Virago has always had a broad definition of what a feminist is and wants to ensure this book will reach a wide market.
CN Lester is an academic and activist who has acted as a consultant on trans issues to a broad range of organisations such as Channel 4, the BBC and the Huffington Post. They have written for New Statesmen, New Internationalist and the Feminist Times. Lester co-founded the first ever national UK group for young LGBT people.
TRANS LIKE ME: A JOURNEY FOR ALL OF US is scheduled for publication in November 2016.
Ailah Ahmed says, ‘This book blew me away by answering all the most topical questions about the new gender debate. Time magazine declared 2014 the year of the ‘Transgender Tipping Point’, and the experiences of those affected by these issues have now entered the mainstream. Virago is delighted to welcome CN Lester to the list with this ground-breaking new exploration of trans lives. TRANS LIKE ME has all the power of Living Dolls by Natasha Walter in really engaging with the zeitgeist. It is also a very moving account of what it means to be a trans person today. ’
CN Lester says, ‘So many of my formative feminist moments came through reading Virago titles – I’m absolutely thrilled to be joining them as an author. As a trans feminist, it was vital for me to find a publisher and editor who understand the broader implications of the current trans movement: how gender affects us all, how the fight for trans rights fits into a feminist debate, and how important it is to take an intersectional approach. I’m proud to be working with a team who have (quite rightly) already included trans women in their remit, and who support authors such as myself – genderqueer people, cis and trans men – who are working on issues of gendered oppression and justice. TRANS LIKE ME is, quite genuinely, a book for all of us – I’m so grateful to both Ailah and my agent Laura for believing in it.’
Laura Macdougall says, ‘I’m delighted that Virago will be publishing CN Lester’s ground-breaking TRANS LIKE ME. It’s a combination of author and publisher which I’m sure will make this a landmark publication in 2016. In TRANS LIKE ME, CN Lester helps us navigate a rapidly changing field of gender identity and debate, delving into the historical, biological and psychological concepts that inform our sense of what sex and gender are and in doing so provides an exciting new way of looking at the world.’
For more information about CN Lester and their work, visit their website at http://www.cnlester.com/ and follow them on Twitter
For US rights please contact Laura Macdougall (firstname.lastname@example.org) and for foreign rights please contact Charlotte Maddox (email@example.com).
July 2, 2015 § 1 Comment
In which the first extract from my upcoming book Transgress/Transcend is published by Litro magazine – enjoy.
April 28, 2015 § 9 Comments
March 4, 2015 § 9 Comments
I read an awful lot for my work, but find I have less and less time for reading for pleasure, as cliche as that sounds.
So – an online book club?
After a discussion on my facebook page (many thanks to everyone who weighed in), it seemed like I’m not the only one who’d welcome a chance to read a little more, particularly queer/LGBT books, and to discuss what they’ve read within a supportive circle. One book every two months seems like a pretty good place to start – and while I’d love to hear book suggestions, I’m going to go ahead and pick the first myself.
To that end: The Summer We Got Free by Mia McKenzie.
A Lambda Literary Award winning novel from the writer behind the incredible blog Black Girl Dangerous, I’ve been desperate to make time to read this since it came out, and can’t think of a better chance than this.
Anyone is welcome to take part, so long as you’re happy to share your thoughts according to house rules: no assumptions, no personal attacks, no cruelty or bigotry.
Discussion will commence on Tuesday April 28th – can you let me know where would be best for you?
If you have any thoughts/suggestions/advice, I’d love to hear from you. Roll on April 28th.
December 1, 2014 § Leave a comment
Unless you’re one of the lucky people, like myself, who got a review copy- or one of the savvy ones who snapped up a hardback – you definitely won’t have read Poems for the Queer Revolution yet. But trust me on this – get in line for the paperback release. This international, intersectional collection of poems, essays and musical prose is a necessary and timely addition to the queer anthology catalogue.
The collaborative nature of this book goes back to its beginnings – main author and editor Jude Orlando Enjolras started the project after positive feedback on Twitter, and the production has been made possible by crowdfunding. For me, this is Queer Revolution‘s greatest strength – its constant reference to and reliance on solidarity, community and multiplicity. To steal one of the author’s phrases, this volume contains “dissent within dissent” – but there is companionship to be found within that. The multiple voices, multiple viewpoints presented here complicate and call out to each other, presenting a web of relationships built through acknowledgment of difference and the wonder of connection, rather than a supposed unity built upon imaginary/enforced sameness.
Grouped into themes, this is a long work, and I would advise a gradual reading, dipping in and out. Not all of pieces appealed to me in style, but that in itself is a valuable point in Queer Revolution‘s favour – the unique voice of each contributor is not smoothed over, but allowed to stand for itself.
By and large, the subject matter and themes are not easy or light – these are poems about struggle, survival and the costs of each. And, yet, as contributor Hel Gurney says: “I would turn a prison into a playground”. For me, that is one of the most vital elements contained within the word ‘queer’ – an irreverent yet sincere defiance rooted in love, mockery and a giddy awareness of the limitations of rule and order. Poems for the Queer Revolution has that feeling in abundance.
Jude Orlando Enjolras’ poetry, making up around half of this collection, reads (to me) very much as a dialogue with the audience. This is not poetry that ends at the page, but an elastic give and take with the person reading. Poetry here is not some separate thing but a foundational form of communication, parsing thought between thinkers. That slippage between a ‘high art’ form and ‘ordinary’ speech is just one set of dichotomies the poet works with: the stage vs. everyday life, the mundane vs. the extraordinary, dreams vs. waking – all are subject to confusion and cross-contamination. There is a sense of brimming over, a flooding of vitality, of richness, of passionate defiance – hard and tender at the same time.
I must admit my bias – I have worked with several of the writers presented here, and respect their poetry. But it isn’t because of that foreknowledge that I recommend this book – it’s because of the breadth and necessity of talent presented here. It’s not just the way in which these messages are conveyed – as beautifully as they are conveyed, in many cases – it’s because these are messages that must be heard. These are people who, so often told that they are nothing, relegated to a place of nothingness, have created entire worlds. It is a gift to be invited to share them.
Good for: queer libraries of all kinds, people looking to understand intersectional womanist, feminist, and/or trans and queer movements, a life raft.
Bad for: Reading all at once, people who don’t want to leave their comfort zone.
Goes with: Late nights high on coffee, working on your own revolution.
You can pre-order a copy of Poems for the Queer Revolution by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org – see http://judeorlandoenjolras.wordpress.com/ for updates and extracts.
September 22, 2014 § 2 Comments
So, another day, another writer plumps for the popular-yet-still-somehow-considered-edgy strategy of pretending to be something for a certain length of time and then writing about it. You know the drill – the Daily Mail certainly does. “What I learnt on my summer holidays” + “isn’t life harder for some people, oh dear” + “now I am a better person because of others’ suffering”.
If there are any publishers/editors/journalists reading this – does that formula actually still work? Are people buying this? Really? Because I wrote you some suggestions of books I’d rather read, and you can have them for free – so long as I never have to read about a clueless hack wearing a burqa ever again.
1. Straight cis woman realises that her understanding of her own self and desire for others has been horribly skewed by mass media, advertising and a general culture of misogyny and heterosexism. She immerses herself in alternative, queer writings and art – cultural studies, documentary, poetry, novels – and, after much thought, writes a book about social conditioning, internal authenticity and what we can learn from challenging ourselves. Never once does she use the phrase “dating women made me a better straight person”.
3. Homeless people speak directly to the reader through their own words – nobody pretends to be anything.
4. Bigendered person writes about being both a man and a woman (or, indeed, any two categories of gender) without resorting to shock and awe ‘deception’ tactics.
5. Person from a group underrepresented by the mainstream press writes a memoir. It is perfect.