Kevin Brennan Writes About What It's Like
I noticed that the New York Times today has two op-eds about transgender issues. In fact, thanks in part to Bruce Jenner, we’re seeing a lot more about transgender people than we used to. I’m not sure what the incidence of “gender dysphoria” is in the U.S., but it’s definitely an issue whose time has come.
It just so happens that I wrote a novel about a transgender person ten years ago. It was called “Aunt Daddy.” I really loved that book, or at least the writing of it, because it was challenging and involved a lot of research, and, believe me, there’s no better way to understand a cultural phenomenon than pinning it to a character and writing a 300-page novel about it. I came away with a much deeper understanding of transgender people and a lot of empathy — because, in a way, transgenderism is a metaphor for a whole host of identity issues. It’s one of my favorite themes. Who are we? Are we what we say we are, or what society sees us as?
Unfortunately, my agent at the time passed on the book, saying that readers wouldn’t be able to relate to my protagonist, a woman who transitions to a man. I tried to make my case on the basis of Google searches that yielded hundreds of thousands of results, but she was firm. I’d have to follow up Parts Unknown with something more appealing to a wide readership.
Such are the unreasonable prejudices of the traditional publishing system. They think they know what readers want. Readers tell them by buying the books the publishers put out there. See?
Ironically, I bet there’s a subgenre growing already about transgender issues. I’m sure the YA area is full of realistic, slice-of-life transgender tales.
I guess I was just a tad too far ahead of my time. Maybe I’ll have to take “Aunt Daddy” out again one of these days and brush the dust off.