Trans publishing was the focus of the first business plan I wrote for what later became Homofactus Press. I had envisioned a publishing company focused on non-fiction and fiction books by FtMs (female-to-male transsexuals). That worked for the first three books we published (Self-Organizing Men, The Marrow’s Telling and Two Truths and a Lie). Then we published Cripple Poetics. With that book the trans publishing firm I had imagined became something more complicated.
By publishing Cripple Poetics, I believe we broadened our business directive to include books focused on disability, particularly disability and sex and disability and love. Trans publishing became queer publishing became publishing complex books for complicated people.
The publication of Cripple Poetics helped me grow up. Cripple Poetics also helped me stake a public claim to what university professors and students call intersectionality, which is a fancy way of saying the study of multiple forms of oppression. What I find most intriguing, and what I continue to focus on in my own work, is how multiple forms of oppression and privilege live within each of us as individuals. Each of us is always both oppressor and oppressed. But even saying that isn’t enough. We must illuminate how the intersectionalities exist within our communities and lives.
For example, I used to be against gender identity disorder (GID) in the DSM. I viewed such a diagnosis as incorrect, because I did not – and still do not – believe I have a mental illness. But Eli Clare reminded me that as a transsexual I need access to the medical establishment for hormones, among other things. “You will always need a diagnosis to access that,” he said. And for him, as a trans man living with cerebral palsy – a medical diagnosis – the medical establishment has not been any kinder to him with a medical diagnosis.
The fact is I did not want a diagnosis of GID. It had too many associations with other mental illnesses. My own fear of these diagnoses led me to scribe a line in the sand that said, “Well, I’m not crazy.” But perhaps I am. Regardless, I now see that as a transsexual man the system of ascribing a diagnosis so that drugs may dispensed and surgeries approved is a system that is fraught with pain and difficulty and oppression and hope for me and everyone else who needs the medical establishment to live.
Trans publishing helped me see this intersectionality, this connection with other human beings I initially thought different from myself. Perhaps trans publishing is just that universal.