Sneak Peek: Dreamers (Trans YA Novel)

A few months ago over spring break, my roommate went out of town on vacation and I found myself with the apartment to myself (and no classes to teach) for a solid week. I used this time to start work on a story I’ve been wanting to tell for a long time: Namely, a trans guy coming out and learning to live life as himself. Perhaps because this was a sort of written exorcism of my own feelings, I ended up writing the entire novel in that one week, a feat I have never before accomplished (and suspect I never will again).

Said novel, tentatively entitled Dreamers, follows a young trans guy coming out to friends and family in high school – while dealing with the fact that the ghost of his father has started appearing in his dreams. The book is still in the editing phase at present, but I thought I’d share a blurb and excerpt today, because (a) Pride Month, and (b) honestly, I’m pretty excited about this project and can’t wait until I can get it out there for people to read.

I should also mention that one of my biggest goals in writing this book was to give trans kids something to read that doesn’t focus on the inherent trauma of being trans. The main character, Leo, goes through his share of angst, but the story overall is positive and upbeat, meant to uplift rather than beat down. There’s nothing wrong with stories that explore the very real trauma that trans people often endure, but this isn’t one of those stories.

S’arright? S’arright. Now onto the book!

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Take me home, country…plane

Greetings, friends. As usual, it’s been a while, so I’ll attempt to bring you up to speed on recent developments as quickly and painlessly as possible.

Having (a) just wrapped up a 12-week 5th/6th grade after-school teaching gig, and (b) gotten myself fully vaxxed (woot), I now finally feel comfortable making good on the Secret Plans I’ve had for quite some time: namely, moving back to Chicago after two long years away. There are many things to love about Virginia, but sadly it just doesn’t seem to be a place I “vibe” with, and thus I’m returning to a locale that feels much more like home (and trying to ignore the nine-month-long freezing cold winters for the time being).

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Random Queer Storytime: The Suit

Welcome, friends, and thank you for joining me for yet another thrilling edition of Random Queer Storytime, that all-too-frequent occasion when I launch into a random tale of my past that exemplifies both my queer/trans-ness and the fact that I was impressively oblivious as a young person.

In today’s episode, we learn about a dance, an ex, and an ill-fitting suit that finally cracked the closet door open — before I slammed it shut again and shoved myself in deep enough to get a glimpse of Narnia. But that’s another story for another day.

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Transgender Diaries: Entry 1

So, I’d like to start off by saying that it is 100% possible to be trans without spending your childhood despising all that comes with your assigned gender, and not everyone who identifies as transgender has the same “I always knew I was *insert gender here*” narrative. There’s no such thing as being “trans enough,” and you can identify as trans without ticking a single box on the What People Usually Expect Of Trans People list.

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Aces Are Wild (Let’s Talk About Asexuality)

Image: In today's edition of "I was wrong about something"... What exactly is asexuality?

As a long-time member of the queer community, I naturally thought that I had a pretty good handle on the many different and wonderful flavors of queerness. As it turns out, however, there is one particular orientation about which I was grossly misinformed, and maybe you are, too.

Asexuality.

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Girls just aren’t interested in that sort of thing

I occasionally find myself wide awake at 3 AM because my body thinks it’s funny to be a jerk sometimes, and as I lie there pretending to be asleep so my cats won’t decide it’s breakfast time, I often end up thinking Deep Thoughts. My thoughts this morning ventured back to childhood and some of my youthful interests, and I got to thinking yet again about the bizarre gender divide we’ve set up around certain activities.

There’s a continuing narrative, even in these “woke” modern days, that those born of the male and female persuasions are naturally and perhaps even biologically interested in different things. Girls like this and boys like that, and that’s just the way it is. And while we’re now beginning to encourage girl-type-children to enjoy pursuits outside of the stereotypical “feminine” realm (while stubbornly insisting the boy-type-children stay firmly in their place), we still have this idea that being born male or female automatically inclines a person toward certain endeavors.

But if we’re not biologically programmed to like certain things, then why do so many girls act this way while boys act that way?

Well, let’s talk about that via my own example.

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What is CHOSEN and why should I care about it?

T.J., you say aloud to your screen, I’ve seen you mention this queer fantasy book series, Chosen, approximately 1,000 times per post, but what is it? What is it about? What would the characters look like if someone spent valuable writing time creating avatars of them via an online fantasy avatar creator? I MUST KNOW.

Well, my inquisitive friends, look no further. This is the post for you.


What is Chosen?

Chosen is a book series that asks the question, “What if there was a fantasy story that featured 99% female characters, most of whom are queer people of color, but it was also, like, interesting and good and stuff?” <–(official tagline)

I’m a huge fan of fantasy, but the fantasy I grew up with generally involved straight white dudes (or straight white elves, or straight white dwarves, etc.) getting to do cool stuff while the women were there either as background characters, romantic/lustful objects for the aforementioned dudes, or as the requisite Tough Female Characters who were generally overly sexualized and ended up being defeated (or romanced, or both) by the main character dudes, anyway.

Queer storylines were pretty much non-existent, and while you would often get a token brown character thrown in somewhere along the way, it was always the exception rather than the rule. And you know what’s really awesome about creating a whole new fantasy world of your very own? You can decide what’s normal, so in the fantasy world of Chosen, normal involves a pantheon of queer goddesses, an abundance of non-white folks, and a general acceptance of queer relationships, trans people, non-binary people, etc.

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Site revamp, shiny new covers, and cats

So, if you’ve stopped by the site lately, you may have noticed that everything is completely different. Yes. Hi. I did that. :D It was time for a change, so I revamped the site entirely, making it easier to access my books, check out my blog, read the bad sci-fi of my youth, and (of course) learn more about my cats. (Because come on, we … Continue reading Site revamp, shiny new covers, and cats

On Gender Identity and How To Be Cool

All right. Gender identity. Let’s rap.

So, there seems to be a lot of confusion out there about sex, gender, gender identity, etc., so I figured I would offer a quick primer for anyone in need of clarification. I’ll start out by saying that there’s a certain fluidity to all of this, and one person’s experience does not encompass all people’s experiences, and a general rule of thumb is just to take people at their word when they say they are this or that.

Example:

“I’m trans.” “Oh, okay, cool.”
“I’m non-binary.” “Oh, okay, cool.”
“My pronouns are “they/them.” “Oh, okay, cool.”
“I am a giraffe.” “I mean, you don’t look much like one, but you would probably know better than me, so okay, cool.”

See? Super easy.

But let’s get a little more in-depth here.

So, at some point in our illustrious history, it was decided that when it came to humans, there were only two boxes that could be checked. One was “male” and one was “female.” Which box you ticked depended solely on what body parts you had, and this was further expanded with the idea that said body parts also determined your interests, personality, mannerisms, and what kind of body wash scents you were allowed to enjoy.

For example:

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The CW’s Nancy Drew: Queer Ladies and Considerate Ghosts

So, full disclosure about me: I have been a Nancy Drew fan for a very, very long time. It was a big part of my formative years, and I’ve reread the books multiple times in my adult life and continue to enjoy them very much. So, naturally, when I heard that the network that brought us the insanity that is Riverdale was coming out with a dark Nancy Drew reboot, I was pretty sure it was going to be… Well. “Hot garbage” was the first term that came to mind, quite honestly.

This past Friday, however, I actually checked out said series, and I discovered to my great surprise that it is not garbage of any temperature. It is, in fact, a rather awesome and compelling show that I am now low-key obsessed with, because I binge-watched the entire series over on the CW site and endured endless prescription drug commercials in order to see how it all panned out.

And hoo boy, did it not disappoint. It’s a CW show, so you do of course have a few standards that had to be included: (a) characters making out while sexy and/or angsty pop songs play loudly in the background, (b) everyone in the cast being excessively and illogically attractive, and (c) teen heartthrobs from the ’90s now being cast as parents to these excessively and illogically attractive young folk.

But those things aside, the CW’s Nancy Drew is a freaking delight. The mystery is fascinating and multifaceted and actually turned out in a way I did not at all suspect (always a good thing), and what’s more, it actually made sense. The show does have its more Riverdale-esque bananas moments, but for the most part, it’s pretty grounded in the world it inhabits. What happens might be weird, but it fits the weirdness they’ve established for this world, and I’m down with that.

I also have to say that there is a queer element to the show that I was not expecting and was very much delighted by.

Anyway, I took some notes while watching the show, and I would now like to share those notes on the off chance that someone aside from myself may find them entertaining. I also must say that these notes of course include spoilers, so proceed with caution if you don’t wish to be spoiled.

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