Janky Trans Characters And The People That Write Them

So, I don’t want to pitch a piece on how cis people fuck up trans representation because if I’m going to get space in a publication, I’d rather use it to platform trans writers. But also, I am stumbling on a lot of Cis People With Good Intentions putting trans characters in their novels and fucking up in pretty much the same ways every time. And I wanted to catalogue them. For my own amusement. Especially because book reviews in the UK are so blindingly cisnormative that half the time the…


Content warning: trans death, suicide, murder. Spoilers for the entirety of Akwaeke Emezi’s The Death of Vivek Oji; mild premise spoilers for Hazel Jane Plante’s Little Blue Encyclopedia (for Vivian).

Before we even learned that trans life was possible, many of us already knew about trans death. Cop procedural. Monster slayer. Family reunion. Oscar nod. If we are not dying, the world is too lenient. If we are dying, then it’s more proof we’re crazy. More proof we should have taken good advice and stayed put. Talking about trans death is to open a wound. …


behind the desk it is easy to act normal. easy to embody a normal that is anchored by a hysterical irony — a sweet rubber mask brushed away to reveal some eldritch horror, laughing and saying what did you expect?

still, we guide people around, we move with a sure grace, we answer questions fast and fluently. people say thank you, thank you. the sheer ability gained by training is pleasant, pleasant just to be in and to do. walking is pleasant, moving, doing tasks, being an authority on anything. it is difficult to admit this pleasure.

we are angry…


A stack of Toni Morrison’s novels in chronological order.
A stack of Toni Morrison’s novels in chronological order.

I just finished reading all of Toni Morrison’s novels, and I figured I’d give a personal ranking for anyone who’s never read her before, or has only picked up one or two of her books. Almost everything she ever wrote is gold, but a few of her best books have dropped out of popular knowledge (justice for Love and Tar Baby!), and most ranking lists of her books are clearly by people who haven’t read all of them and are going by reputation. So, if you want to find some hidden gems, try this list.

Morrison wrote 11 novels between…


An intriguing premise that falters in scope and ambition

Credit: Repeater Books; https://johnnybull.uk/

If you tried to deduce how many bisexuals were in the population solely off the number of books that specifically address bisexuality, your guess would be way off. There are a few Bi 101 books marketed at teens and young adults, a small body of psychological and psychoanalytic literature, and a couple of notable books of essays from the 90s and 00s, such as Getting Bi (2005) and Bi Any Other Name (1991); I’ve also heard positive things about Shiri Eisner’s Bi: Notes for a Bisexual Revolution (2013), though I haven’t gotten around to reading it myself yet. …


Happy Happy Gaming Fun Time: Thoughts on Fallout: New Vegas

Credit: Gamescom 2010

i. Freedom

One of the things I love most about New Vegas is the way it subtly acclimatises you to certain mechanics, certain freedoms, then suddenly brings those taken-for-granted game elements into sharp relief by taking them away, or presenting them in a new light. HBomberguy talks about a more extreme and groundbreaking version of mechanics manipulation in his analysis of Pathologic; New Vegas does it in a more peripheral way, but I haven’t really seen it discussed and I think it’s brilliant.

In Dead Money, New Vegas’ first DLC…


Image credit: Endemol

It is the year 1984, and you are a depressed exile living under a totalitarian, repressive regime. Your friend slips you half of a banned book: it is clearly 1984, although you, of course, do not know the title. To protect it, you cover it in a calendar page from your calendar, which is, of course, a 1984 calendar, for the year 1984, covering a book which is, coincidentally, set in a year that is also 1984.

You are a dazzled new employee working for G̶o̶o̶g̶l̶e a company whose name is G̶o̶o̶g̶l̶e not important. Your company does some vague impressive…


Like all self-respecting Twitter users, I do not like getting into legitimately controversial discussions. I like to keep pumping out the ever-faithful ‘trans good’, ‘leftism good’ and ‘capitalism bad’ takes, and to enjoy the lovely chorus I have built up of people who also believe that trans good, leftism good and/or capitalism bad. Unfortunately, I appear to have misplaced my good sense enough to get invested in an area of The Discourse where there are no winners, everyone’s mad at each other, and no matter where you tread, you’re probably treading on a landmine.

This explosive territory, which I mentally…


A luminous, complex debut

Trans and non-binary characters are still rarely found in adult literary fiction, outside of the occasional offhand mention or plot device, but Andrea Lawlor’s debut Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl is now a welcome exception; its Picador reprint in 2019 has made it one of the few ‘trans novels’ to crack the bigger presses. Paul… is a playful, sexy, deeply thoughtful evocation of ’90s queer culture, featuring a shapeshifting protagonist who can change his body at will. …


A compelling idea let down by execution

In 1996, we had Bridget Jones. In 2020, we have — what, exactly? A worldwide fascism epidemic; a faded #MeToo mug; a rolling prescription for SSRIs. It’s a strange time for a book heralded as ‘the black Bridget Jones’ to show up, and a strange tagline too, because the marketing around Carty-Williams’ much-anticipated debut cleaves closely to a much more recent trend of sharp, subversive, socially astute novels based around women in their mid-twenties. …

Eli Cugini

Contemporary literature graduate, quizzer and tired leftist.

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