Here’s the thing: mostly, I just want to read short stories by trans people. That’s it. That’s the whole purpose. And it’s a little self-serving, to have approached Autostraddle and asked them to let me curate a six month series, featuring six short stories by six trans authors, all because I wanted to read a bit more from people who have a couple of things in common with me (I’m trans; I write fiction). My first novel comes out in April and I have listened to people talk to me and to each other about whether that book is queer, is trans, can be considered a queer or trans book, whether it has a hook into this community that is my home. Or else is it the kind of book that makes use of my identity in some sort of, I don’t know, educational fashion? Once, my book was featured on a list that was put together because of Trans Day of Remembrance. That felt weird. I was grateful it was featured because I’m proud of the book; I did not like that my book was hitched to the wagon of a day we mourn our dead.
It’s kind of a shit feeling, the bodily sensation of always needing to have a point. To be reduced to a function or a representative of an identity. Or to be a theme, something on an editorial calendar that needs filling out. I reached out to Autostraddle to edit this series because I think there’s something radical about making a space for trans authors to engage in the act of fiction, to write bold stories with their big imaginations, and to require nothing of those stories except what we require of all short stories—to tell the truthiest truths in sentences that stay in our jacket pockets, that we keep rediscovering again and again like a folded ten dollar bill. And moreover, I think people will read them without one single timely hook because they are just good fucking stories.
Here’s what I’m looking for: Short stories, 5,000 words or less (this is not a challenge, it really can be less. Longer isn’t always better). You, the author, must identify as trans. If you think you are trans, you are trans. There’s no thematic requirement. The work need not contain queer and trans characters or content (though by all means, it can). In the name of transparency, some pieces in this series are solicited (as in, I will ask some authors directly for their work) and some will come from submissions; my hope is half and half, but I would be ecstatic to fill more of the slots from submission than solicitation. Email me at austen.osworth [at] gmail.com with the subject heading AS Trans Fiction [Your Last Name]. Attach the short story as a word document and in the body of an email, write me a paragraph (and no more than a paragraph!) introducing yourself and the story. We are paying $150 for each published short story; I wish we could pay you a million dollars for each published short story.
All pieces will have an accompanying illustration; I am planning to use all trans illustrators. If you are a trans illustrator and would like to be considered for this project (and potentially for future projects), email me a link to your portfolio website and a quick, two-sentence artist statement. Send it to austen.osworth [at] gmail.com and please use the subject heading AS Illustrator [Your Last Name]. We can pay you $100 for one published feature image; I wish we could pay you a million dollars for a published feature image.
And the answer to the question about what function my book has in and about trans community: I don’t rightly know, not in the technical sense. But it’s for you. I dedicated it to my people, my community, my collective voice. I belong to a panoply of sweet groups, am gloriously entwined with so many, but it’s for you, too, whether or not it’s pronounced a “trans” book. Because I wrote it. It’s also for all those other communities, too, and those beyond it because how boring would it be, to read only what your own people write to you? When a trans person sits down to write the truth, they don’t become a different person when they do. It’s all a trans story; it’s for us. It’s for everyone. Trans imagination, unfettered, is a great gift to the world. Let’s get delighted.
Submissions close April 30!