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It’s Always Been Our Stories That Saved Us: An Introduction to Transgender Awareness Week by Emily Flummox

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It’s Always Been Our Stories That Saved Us

An Introduction to Transgender Awareness Week and Transgender Day of Remembrance 

by Emily Flummox

Twenty-four years later, we still do not know who it was who made Rita Hester an ancestor (other than the cops who took an hour to get her to the hospital, despite her back door being open) and thus made November a good month for trans horror.  A small group of Rita’s friends organized a vigil to remember her, to yell her name and her pronouns loud enough that hopefully the name the news used to kill her a second time might not be heard.  Gwendolyn Ann Smith attended that gathering and decided that we all deserved that, not just Rita.  On November 20th of the next year, she organized the very first Transgender Day of Remembrance.

On the other side of the country, I attended a Transgender Day of Remembrance memorial for the first time three or maybe four years later.  It was a small room at a community center in Campbell, the streets I drove to get there invisible with heavy rain.  I’ve been to remembrances most, if not quite every, year since.  I remember some of the stories ~ the mistaken murders built upon the carried purse of an elder as she is helped across the street, the two-year-old killed by his mother’s boyfriend for being too feminine, the endless invocations of nameless dead never identified and sometimes unidentifiable, killed in such a way as to prevent us from ever being known.  I remember the year an organization started in Europe to improve their news tracking and the halfhour of names became 90 minutes overnight.

I tend to get real depressed in November of every year, all the moreso in the past five years, the years in which I got to be older than Rita ever did.  I’ve turned to religion to process these feelings in the past, burning the names in ritual bonfires, reading the names in the midst of a circle blessed by the Watchtowers and Dragons of the Infinite Queer Directions Between, performing a weeklong elevation ritual to help those who have gone before move to a better afterlife, reading as prayer Leela Alcorn’s suicide note.

But it is reading horror written by trans people that has helped me the most.  

It’s always been stories that saved us, it’s always been fiction that gave us the histories and the futures we need to know that we really do exist, that what happens to us matters, that we are real.  I, for one, am only forty years old and I grew up believing I was imaginary; I came out of the closet in 2000, five years after “genderqueer” was coined and five years before “non-binary gender” was coined.  If you do the math, you’ll notice that I attended my first Day of Remembrance before even my own community had much of an idea what to do with me.

In these horror stories, the reasons we die have faces and can be beaten, or the ways in which our siple genders seem to twist the mind of cisgender people allow us to strike them down (rather than the other way around).  It is in these horror stories that we can survive, it is in these stories that we find role models who don’t hide or assimilate or settle for letting others be wrong about our gender because we’re too tired to deal with it.  Role models who keep us from becoming the very weapons used to kill us.  These are the villains and the monsters with which we are famous for identifying, the sources of our self-understanding and our meaning.

I’m excited to introduce you to this week of interviews with transgender horror authors, these lovely people who have kept me alive these years.  This is just a small tasting; there are many more of us, and we exist at many intersections.

On the other side of the year, on March 31st, we have had in recent years the Transgender Day of Visibility, a vernal joy to balance November’s autumnal sorrow.  We have been winning ourselves more and ever more visibility in that time, and the cishets are beginning to notice.  Two awards were given to trans people at the last StokerCon (Hailey Piper won the Stoker for First Novel and Sumiko Saulson won the Richard Layman Service Award for pioneering historical changes in regards to inclusion and diversity as Social Media Manager), and the year before that, Aiden Thomas was a Stoker Award finalist for Cemetery Boys (in the Young Adultt category) for just a few examples.

May the efforts of the writers whose interviews you will read this week, the trans people out there winning awards, and even just regular ol’ trans folk like myself ensure that the future we first imagined could be possible by reading stories like these go from fictional to nonfictional (and back again).  So mote it be!

BIOGRAPHY: Emily Flummox, the poet, TTRPG designer/streamer, fiction writer, and editor with 18 names (including Merlin Monroe, Tristissima, & Skunkheart) competed nationally twice during eir decade-long slam career. Much of eir poetry, notably “Sacred Purification Ritual Using Your Own Urine Instead of Water”, focuses on identifying with the divinity of the disgusting. E’s performed eir stories “Civilization Stained These Young Things” and “The Fog of Time Means We’re Everywhere” during the San Francisco Leather Cultural District’s Erotic Storytelling Hour; the former’s been published in Scry of Lust 2.  An excerpt from eir Spiritualist space-fantasy novel Aduality{0≠2;100=108} appeared in Wickedly Abled. Content created by em for various TTRPGs (both game elements e has designed and announcements of streamed games) can be found on eir blog Lucifer’s Subcreations; e can be hired as a professional Game Master/Dungeon Master at StartPlaying.Games. E teaches classes on Kink in Horror and Queerness in Horror with eir sweetheart Sumiko Saulson at the Speculative Fiction Academy.

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