I didn’t start writing because I’m trans*. I started as a way to get myself out of the house. My local VA hospital offers a recreational therapy writing group for disabled veterans. Until this group started, I pretty much left my home only to go out to dinner or shopping with my husband, or for medical appointments. Through this group I have made friends who are amazing, talented and supportive. I also began to write poems and essays to process the traumas that took me to the place where I was. Along the way I learned I had some talent. Between 2008 and 2009, I won one silver and two bronze medals at the National Veteran’s Creative Arts Festival.
Two of the friends from the writing group and I rented a small office and began to write a collaborative novel based on one of my friend’s life and my life. There were such similarities that we only had to adjust for age to make it work. This novel was completed in May of 2011. We are still seeking an editor and way to publish it.
Unfortunately, for the novel to feel authentic now, we would need to go back and add something I discovered during the process. I needed to transition.
In 2010, I decided that I needed to enhance my writing skills and get a college degree. I found the school and program I wanted to participate in. When I began school, I presented as male, but to be accepted as female was actually quite easy. While finishing my first year, I saw a call for submissions from a new press who wanted to tell transgender stories and create a new definition of transgender literature: Topside Press. I then needed to decide what kind of story I wanted to tell. I wanted something I deeply yearned, but honestly didn’t know what that was until I started the outline. I looked for a transgender superhero who had to transition just like I was going through. This hero couldn’t shape shift. Thus, Captain Macho was born. I spent three months writing a 12-page story. I submitted it on the last day because I wanted it to be as good as possible. It was also my first submission so I didn’t really know what would be considered good.
Then the waiting game began. I started to doubt my skills. I doubted I should be a writer at all. Then one April morning I woke up with an email accepting my work for “The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard.” Then we began the editing, and there wasn’t much needed. I also wanted to showcase the work of the other great authors in the book. With the support of several departments at my school and Topside Press, in November of 2012, five additional authors and both editors of “The Collection” attended a reading on my college campus. We filled the auditorium showcasing the works six transgender authors. I know two of those authors have since published novels and one has won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction.
I also write for QSaltLake. I get the honor of telling transgender stories from a trans* point of view. My editor and publisher has covered big stories that needed to be told. I have gotten to meet many amazing people and tell their stories that are both sensitive and informative.
My superhero story didn’t end with “The Collection.” I doubled the content as my college thesis and turned it into a novella. I also dreamed of actually having the character come alive in a comic book, where she belonged. In March of this year, an artist friend and I released the first teaser edition online. We are currently working on a print version that will include the teaser and origin story. Our ultimate goal is to create a graphic novel. My artist-self proudly proclaims this may help some trans* kids in the future not feel so alone.
I guess this is why I write. My experiences are not a typical memoir. I don’t say I was born in the wrong body, because this is my body.