When people list their favorite writers, many mention cis white dudes. As a trans male writer, I know we can change the public's perception for the better with our words. There are lots of great trans masculine-presenting writers who are creating work that is not only educational and powerful but also changing our ideas around traditional maleness and masculinity. I asked a few folks about their work and how their it affects these ideas, and this is their response!
"There are a lot of black-and-white stories out there about transgender men, ones which sound a lot like my story: I transitioned, it was relatively seamless, and I quietly passed into being seen as male wherever I go, with all of its attendant perks. I have a choice of whether to out myself as trans. But in the gray space — where most nonwhite, non-Anglo, femme, disabled, undocumented, non-"passing" men actually live (i.e. the majority of trans men, who fit somewhere in there at some point) — life ranges from a bit more to a lot more complex. My work aims to be self-reflective, so as to not assume my story for other men and trans masculine people, and to be a launching-off point for the folks in those intersections to have their complexities acknowledged and considered within community-wide conversations."
Mitch is biracial and queer. He practices intersectional feminism and helps change ideas around malehood by writing and editing books about being transgender and male, mostly for other trans masculine folks. His transition was safer than some, and he helps give others a voice through his work.
2. J Mase III
"As activists, we often ask the question, 'What would a world free of oppression look like?' I believe it is our roles as artists, creatives, writers, performers, that can answer that question. I use my art to make space for my blackness against a white supremacist world, for my transness against a cis backdrop, for my Muslimness in a world clearly trying to snuff that faith out of me. Through my organizing and collaboration, I work hard to use art to create that space for TQPOC folks across the board and financial solidarity with those of us who wish to use art to preserve our culture and history."
J Mase III is a black, trans, queer, rowdy-as-hell poet with a capital P, currently based in Brooklyn. As a performer and teaching poet he has rocked venues all across the U.S. and the U.K., including colleges, radio stations, group homes, and youth centers. He is also well known for his pieces published in The Huffington Post.
“My fiction and autobiographical writing come from the viewpoint of being a fem trans guy. From an early age, I have felt like a feminine male, not a masculine female. It’s hard for some people to understand this nonbinary identity. People are often confused that I am attracted to men, or that I sometimes like to dress “gay” or “girly,” or that I don’t usually wish I had a penis. They don’t get why I didn’t just “stay a girl.” It seems contradictory in theory, if you haven’t experienced it yourself or known someone. One of my goals in my writing is to make this experience more palpable for others and to validate other people like me.”
Elliott DeLine is the author and publisher of three books: Refuse, I Know Very Well How I Got My Name, and Show Trans. His books are all available for sale on his website!
4. Willy Wilkinson
“Everything I am today is profoundly shaped by my past — five decades navigating a racially nonconforming, gender-transgressive, disabled body, sculpted by the legacy of Asian female subjugation, transphobia, homophobia, and racism that has impacted my life since the womb.”
Willy Wilkinson is a writer as well as a public health consultant, and is the author of the recently released book Born on the Edge of Race and Gender: A Voice for Cultural Competency.
"I question what masculinity means daily. I've personally never identified as feminine or masculine. These are identities that people assume. My gender flows. I interrupt the gender binary through my writing, performance, short films, speaking, and education. Currently and more often than not, I'm a gay male passing but actually genderqueer person. I'm neither male nor female and yet I am both, in between and on the edges of them. To be viewed as masculine or male with feminine attributes defies the popular narrative of what it means to be a 'real' man. It is dangerous. I as well as others want to push those stagnant frameworks. In doing so, we can all (trans, cis, genderqueer, LGBQ, heterosexual, and beyond) navigate what gender truly speaks to us. We can embrace a broader idea of gender identity and not be hindered by what people expect. This is a challenging existence, but it is a my truth and a truth shared by many."
Mx. Ignacio Rivera M.A. is a queer, trans, two-spirit, black-Boricua Taíno who prefers the gender-neutral pronoun “they.” Ignacio is an activist, writer, educator, filmmaker, performance artist, and mother.