Topside Press Anthology Is No Trans 101

In early October, I tweeted about my frustration around not having trans* writers in a contemporary English class syllabus, and had the good fortune to be heard by Topside Press, a publishing house started in 2011 with the intention of publishing “authentic trans narratives.”

I recently received a free advance review copy of their lastest anthology The Collection in the mail from Tom at Topside Press.

I only recognized three authors in the book—and that’s only because I’ve lurked around the internet so much.

I told my professor that there ought to be trans women writers in her course’s syllabus and she agreed.

There hadn’t been room, she said. I mentioned The Collection to her— almost 400 pages of transsexual, transgender, and gender-variant authors writing short fiction with a trans* main character.

No cisgender main characters.

Transgender authors have voices and I can hear them and read them and share these stories with my friends.

I can lend out this book, I can share it with my parents, I can tell people that, “Hey look, here are some great stories about stuff that trans people do that have absolutely nothing or absolutely everything to do with their transition or their gender because these characters are going about living their lives.” Just living their lives, without sensation.

It is a tough read. If you have a history of being misgendered, you may have to read this book slowly, in fits and starts, like I did.

I kept reading because it’s an anthology brimming with talent.

The characters easily escape the book to stand beside you. The tales within challenge traditional story structure—don’t expect satisfying happy endings or even necessarily hopeful ones.

You’ll read about superheroes who hang up their capes to change genders, drug-fuelled romances, and friends working together to help keep custody of a teen.

My particular favourite stories are Elliott Deline’s Dean & Teddy, K. Tait Jarobe’s Greenhorn, and Donna Ostrowsky’s The Queer Experiment.

I had an interesting time reading characters who preferred ze/hir pronouns. I realized that I didn’t know how to gender or imagine hir bodies.

Gender seeps and slinks oh so deeply into our brains, into our judgements; even people who live and breathe gender trouble have to unlearn all that binary schooling.

I lent my professor my personal copy of the book after it was published. She was impressed and declared that she is going to buy her own copy. Perhaps we’ll see The Collection on a university syllabus sometime soon!

Montreal launch of The Collection featuring author contributor Oliver Pickle/Dec. 2/Le Cagibi (5490 St. Laurent Blvd.)/8 p.m./Free

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