Our Favorite Trans & Non-Binary Creators
October 18, 2022
To our eternal sadness, exasperation, and fury, J.K. Rowling continued being transphobic and vile on Twitter last week. A lot of ink has already been spilled on why this sucks (check out this great article from 2020 that both explains why Harry Potter meant so much to so many of us but also illuminates the limits and failures of Rowling’s compassion, as well as this flawless video essay from Natalie Wynn on Rowling and how bigotry works.)
So instead of talking more about Rowling, this week, we’re highlighting the work of some of our very favorite trans and non-binary creators!
We’d love it if you’d buy one of these books, watch one of these essays, check out one of the shows or comics, or throw a couple bucks into one of their Patreons.
- Natalie Wynn – Contrapoints (YouTube) – We honestly don’t even have words for how spectacular Wynn’s video essays are and how incredibly brilliant she is. These videos are not for the faint of heart, but they are full of style, ambition, drama, and excellent research. In addition to her video essay on Rowling that we mentioned above, we’d also highly recommend her essays Envy, Cringe, and Voting (midterms are coming up! VOTE. Natalie will tell you why, if you need to be convinced.)
- Derek Newman-Stille – literally everything, ok fine, Whispers Between Fairies (book) and Speculating Canada (website) – Derek is one of our favorite people on the entire planet, and knowing them has had a profound impact on who we are as scholars. Check out this great recent interview they did with Strange Horizons about their experience of writing while disabled, their co-authored book Whispers Between Fairies, and their award-winning website Speculating Canada to savor their fabulousness.
- Abigail Thorn – Philosophy Tube (YouTube) and The Prince (play) – Thorn makes high-concept philosophical ideas incredibly accessible and entertaining. We’ve learned a ton from her. Also, her costumes are everything. We especially recommend Food, Beauty, Mind (which parodies a cooking show!), Jordan Peterson’s Ideology, and Artists & Fandoms. BONUS! Thorn recently wrote and starred in a play called The Prince, a Shakespearean remix that has been described as “A majority-trans cast deliver a masterclass in genre-bending, fourth-wall breaking Shakespearean drama and what it means to live on the margins.” We absolutely cannot wait to see it – it will be streaming soon on Nebula.
- Eddie Izzard – Dress to Kill (stand-up comedy) – We honestly worry about how much of our senses of humor and vocabularies have been shaped by this one unspeakably hilarious stand-up routine from the late 90s. Eddie takes on Stonehenge, bread, flags, and other important topics, and no matter how many times we watch it, we still end up laugh-crying. To be clear, we recommend everything she’s ever done, but Dress to Kill is utter perfection in our hearts.
- Casey McQuiston – Red, White, and Royal Blue (book) – This is one of the sweetest, most hilarious, and most hopeful books we’ve read in a long time. It’s kind of an alternate reality version of 2016, in which the (female) American President’s son and the Prince of England fall in love. It has some of the swooniest love letters ever, we just want to hug all the characters, and it makes us insanely happy every time we read it.
- King Princess/ Mikaela Mullaney Straus – Hold on, Baby (album) – We saw King Princess open for Florence + the Machine last month and literally bought one of their albums while they were still on stage. They have charisma in spades and killer music to back it up.
- Toby Marlow – Six (musical) – We’ve already waxed poetic multiple times about how much we love Six, a musical that reimagines the wives of King Henry VIII as pop divas. If you’re interested in revisionist history, feminist history, fabulous pop music, or just a really good techno remix of Greensleeves, check it out.
- Trung Le Nguyen – The Magic Fish (graphic novel) – A boy uses fairy tales to communicate with his Vietnamese immigrant parents across a language and cultural divide. It’s a really gorgeous story about family, identity, and the incredible power of stories.
- Caitlín R. Kiernan – “The Road of Needles” (short story) – This is one of the coolest, weirdest, most creative fairy-tale retellings we’ve ever read (and we have read a lot.) Little Red Riding Hood is recast as a tech on a spaceship who must navigate the increasingly hostile interior environment to prevent the ship from a deadly malfunction.
- Jack @ CozyPunk and Cabbage Cottage (fashion design) – Beautiful cottagecore/ mori/ Hobbit-esque clothes (that look especially amazing layered) from a wonderfully adorable creator! Their Instagram reels never fail to make us smile 😊 Plus, all of their clothing is biodegradable!
- Alison Rumfitt – Tell Me I’m Worthless (book) – Ok, we haven’t actually read this one yet, but it’s sitting in our TBR pile, and it looks amazing. Here’s a description from the publisher: “A dark, unflinching haunted house novel that takes readers from the well of the literary gothic, up through Brighton’s queer scene, and out into the heart of modern day trans experience in the UK. Three years ago, Alice spent one night in an abandoned house with her friends Ila and Hannah. Since then, things have not been going well. Alice is living a haunted existence…”
- Lilah Sturges – Lumberjanes: The Infernal Compass (graphic novel) – This one is just adorable. Lumberjanes is a comics series set in and around Miss Qiunzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, a summer camp whose attendees are known as Lumberjane Scouts. The main characters are the five scouts of the Roanoke cabin—Jo, April, Molly, Mal and Ripley—who take it upon themselves to investigate the supernatural mysteries taking place around the camp. The Infernal Compass is a stand-alone graphic novel that centers on Molly and Mal, and it’s very sweet!
- ND Stevenson – She-Ra and the Princesses of Power (animated series) – We ADORED this reboot of the beloved 80s franchise. It has an incredibly diverse cast, and it’s sweet, fun, and hopeful. The episode about D&D made Sara laugh until she cried (and Brittany especially loved the references to the old She-Ra tv show in that episode too!) Yes. Just yes.
- Anna-Marie McLemore – When the Moon was Ours (book) – We read this one on the recommendation of our dear friend Shveta Thakrar, who noted that it had some of the most beautiful language she’d ever read… and she wasn’t kidding. Everything McLemore touches turns into poetry, and this fairy tale of a girl with roses growing from her wrist who falls in love with a boy who paints and hangs moons in trees is just stunningly lovely.
- Neon Yang – The Black Tides of Heaven & The Red Threads of Fortune (novellas) – Brittany’s usually not someone easily wooed by high fantasy worldbuilding, but she came across this novella set and simply couldn’t put it down (and apparently there are two more in the series that she didn’t even know existed until now! She bought them immediately.) The Silkpunk world that Yang weaves is startlingly innovative. This description from the write up about the omnibus of all four novellas sums it up pretty well – “[i]n the Tensorate Series you will find: rebellious nonbinary scions of empire, sky-spanning nagas with experimental souls, revolutionary engineers bent on bringing power to the people, pugilist monks, packs of loyal raptors, and much, much more.” (Yes, raptors!)
- Aiden Thomas – Cemetery Boys (book) – A recommendation from our fabulous Virtual Assistant, Meenoo! “A trans boy determined to prove his gender to his traditional Latinx family summons a ghost who refuses to leave.” We will be reading this one immediately!
Who are some of your favorite trans and binary creators making gorgeous things right now? We’d love to hear about them! Let us know in the comments!
P.S. We will not be debating whether or not Rowling’s behavior is transphobic. Replies to that effect will be deleted.