You are undoubtedly aware, as I have not shut up about it, that my essay collection/memoir “Something That May Shock and Discredit You” comes out tomorrow. I hope very much that you’ll read it and enjoy it! You can purchase it here, or at your local bookstore/library.
Here’s part of the interview I did with A.E. Osworth at Slice Magazine, out today:
I know “eldritch” is a very of-the-moment term (or maybe of-two-years ago, I’m not as poised on the pulse as I was), but I don’t think it’s just, “What if House Hunters were scary,” so much as just—it’s such a jarring show, and such a dishonest show, and I think that’s immediately recognizable to almost anyone who watches it, even people who quite like it. From the fact that you have to already be in escrow in order to try out for the show, so everyone’s pretending to agonize over decisions they’ve already made, to the obvious masochism of much of the show’s audience being locked out of the housing market, to the dulling, constant jokes about women and closets, or men needing to be closer to their Jobs Downtown. And I think especially with the Mean Girls loop— there are so many ways that transition reorients your relationship to time: ways that you attempt to relive the past in order to legitimate the present, or feel caught up in an endless negotiation with something fixed and remote. I’ve spent a lot of time, especially in the early days of my transition, wanting to be like, thrown in front of a Girl Council so I could exorcize my guilt.
You often resist a standard trans narrative—this is, in fact, the most specific and nuanced discussion of trans identity narratives I have yet read. I found myself straddling the sensation that you were camped out in my own personal brain and the delighted shock of “oh, we can say that in front of cis people now?” How do you balance writing for a trans audience with the knowledge that those outside the community will also read the book?
I want to start with “resist a standard trans narrative,” because I think that’s really been the rule of almost every trans writer I’ve ever read or even most trans people I’ve ever met. I really think we all do that, all the time.
Here’s me talking to Claire Landsbaum in Vanity Fair:
And yet, Something That May Shock and Discredit You is largely about Lavery refusing to learn about himself, and when he finally concedes to do so, wrestling with what he learns in private. “I think it was more around these things”—notions of gender and sexuality—“that I felt myself to be very, very restricted,” he said. “That restriction was something that I had learned very young, often without anyone having to tell me exactly what it was or why. I very quickly formed rules around, This is what I need to do in order to not have somebody ask questions that I think will be very painful for me. This is what I need to do to stay safe, happy, loved, approved of, to get the things that I think I need to get for the day.
“Figuring out the little restrained areas and how carefully they were guarded, even within my own mind, was very surprising,” he added. “They were things that I had carefully not thought about my whole life. It’s like the Bluebeard’s castle story. You can have the whole castle, just don’t go in this one room. I was like, Hell yeah, I won’t go in that room. Not a problem, boss. I spent a long time running through that castle being like, This castle’s great. It’s huge. Then at a certain point, that stops working.”
Here I am in USA Today (!!!)
There’s also a lovely review of the book up at Shelf Awareness (do go on about my “unrivaled panache”!). If you’re in New York next week, please come and see Grace and me at the Strand on Tuesday night at 7pm. I’ll also be on tour in Seattle, DC, Portland, Tucson, and Australia later this spring, so keep watching the skies for future event dates.
These last few months have been a uniquely challenging time for me, and I’m very grateful to have something fun and exciting to focus on – thanks for reading.