Trans Rights Readathon 2024 Wrap-up

Trans Rights Readathon Campaign Results $3,286.50 raised for the Lavender Rights Project 39 donors and 8 books read Thank you! Book covers for all 8 books

Thanks to everyone who donated to the Lavender Rights Project as part of my Trans Rights Readathon campaign. Together, we raised $3,286.50 with 39 donors!

This hit 82% of my ambitious $4,000 goal. We raised more in 2024 than in 2023 and had more individual donors, too, so I call that a win.

All 8 reviews for the books I read are live:

👊 Bad Boy by Elliot Wake (contemporary dark romance)
🦑 Boys Weekend by Mattie Lubchansky (satire horror comic)
💞 Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman (YA romance comic)
🗼 Heartstopper Volume 3 by Alice Oseman
💛 Heartstopper Volume 4 by Alice Oseman
🏚️ Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt (horror)
🏳️‍⚧️ The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman (nonfiction personal essays)
🪻 The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White (YA horror)

If you’re looking for books by trans authors or featuring trans characters, a book reviewer Rhys has compiled a huge spreadsheet of books across reading levels, fiction and nonfiction, and genres. If you’re in Seattle, check out Charlie’s Queer Books in Fremont, which is owned and operated by Charlie, a trans man.

If you’d like to continue the good vibes, please support Mercury Stardust and Jory as they raise $2 million for trans healthcare with Point of Pride! Point of Pride provides funds for trans people to access healthcare and other essential needs like HRT, surgeries, binders, undergarments, and other life-saving and affirming things.

Read trans books and support trans organizations all year! We need your vocal and material support.

The Trans Rights Readathon Is Upon Us!

Book covers of the books I'm reading for the trans rights readathon

The Trans Rights Readathon launches this Friday! This decentralized readathon helps raise money for great trans causes while reading books by trans authors.

This year, I’ve pledged to read 8 books and aim to raise $4,000 for the Lavender Rights Project!

Please donate to help me reach this goal!

Thanks to generous donations, we’ve raised $695 so far.

You can boost this TikTok, Mastodon, BlueSky, Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and follow my reading updates on TikTok, Goodreads, and Storygraph.

I’ll be reading:

  • Bad Boy by Elliot Wake
  • Boys Weekend by Mattie Lubchansky
  • Heartstopper Volume 2 by Alice Oseman
  • Heartstopper Volume 3 by Alice Oseman
  • Heartstopper Volume 4 by Alice Oseman
  • Tell Me I’m Worthless by Alison Rumfitt
  • The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman
  • The Spirit Bares Its Teeth by Andrew Joseph White

By donating, you’ll help trans people in need connect legal services, economic justice needs, and housing. The Lavender Rights Project is a wonderful nonprofit created for and by trans people. They serve the Puget Sound Area and do some legal work nationally. One of their current major efforts (in collaboration with Chief Seattle Club and King County) is building a 35-unit building providing permanent supportive housing for QT2BIPOC in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.

The Readathon provides a source of joy and celebration, which as a nonbinary trans masculine person, let’s have more joy, please! It’s a chance to uplift trans authors and provide material support to trans people. Let’s drown out the hate and keep on dancing.

Do You Mean Women? Or Do You Mean Those Not Affected by Cis Male Privilege?

Four professional women sit together around tables.

As professional business organizations attempt to diversify and welcome Gen Z, you may conflate the two and have to adjust your mindset and your group.

For over 15 years, my professional career has sat at the crosshairs of tech and community. In the US, tech1 is dominated by men, especially cishet able-bodied white men. Community professionals (those running these groups) are predominantly cis white women, and cishet able-bodied white men dominate as community “thought leaders.” None of this is shocking, given we live in a white supremacist patriarchal society, and our workplaces and associated groups reflect this.

In workplaces, men are given more leadership opportunities and more chances and space to voice and enact their ideas. Many men choose (consciously or unconsciously) to use patriarchal tools of violence to enact domination for power in little and world-changing ways.

Women comprise the majority of community roles because they’re considered “natural” at nurturing, compassion, empathy, general social skills, and a host of other feminine traits seen as inherent to women.2 As long as they don’t push back against the hierarchy and are okay with men rising to the top as leaders as these men chase power (influence + fame + money). Many women choose (consciously or unconsciously) to use patriarchal tools of violence to enact domination over other women and people of intersecting marginalized identities (especially against people of color) for power in little and world-changing ways.

Cishet able-bodied white women, in particular, often choose to be “second” in white supremacist patriarchy under white men rather than align with the global majority. This can look like pulling up the ladder behind them, not promoting employees equitably, considering themselves “not like the other girls,” socially enforcing Western beauty standards, etc. This false assimilation can be alluring to gain power and keep the status quo under hierarchical workplace and societal systems and allows white women (or anyone else grasping at pick-me status) to not do the work of unpacking, understanding, repairing, healing from, and rejecting white supremacist patriarchy.

For-profit (tech) companies have used community as an avenue to soften their image and create super fans. Some have created cults as cults result from using your community-building skills and expertise for unethical or nefarious purposes. They also use women (and sometimes other underrepresented minorities) to soften their image. Cue Sheryl Sandberg. On smaller scales, I’ve witnessed many female employees of all levels “make nice” with people who were incredibly and often rightfully pissed at the company’s male CEO or other executives.

Enter the “nice” way to push back against workplace patriarchy: professional women’s groups

Continue reading “Do You Mean Women? Or Do You Mean Those Not Affected by Cis Male Privilege?”

COVID Is Not Normal: The Language of a Virus

A pile of tissues, mug, and glasses

There are no “seasons” of sickness.

NPR’s science podcast Short Wave released an episode entitled “What You Need to Know about the Current Tripledemic” on January 17, 2024. The host, Regina G. Barber, discusses the current surge in RSV, the flu, and COVID with NPR health correspondent Pien Huang, mostly citing US CDC data and guidelines.

The episode was pure propaganda to normalize COVID. To normalize what Huang referred to as “the annual tripledemic that is RSV, the flu, and COVID” and to downplay the impact of illness, the deadliness, the risk of disability, and any possible solutions. Continue reading “COVID Is Not Normal: The Language of a Virus”

Books I Read in 2023 & Think You Should Read in 2022

Books I Read in 2023 & Think You Should Read in 2022 banner. Features the 10 book covers in the background

Overall, I read 160 books in 2023. This may be the most books I’ve ever read in a year, but as always, read at the pace that suits you and for the type of books you’re reading. Most books I read were under 500 pages, and a large chunk of them were under 300 pages. Read some pamphlets!

The vast majority of the books were fiction, with only 10% nonfiction. I made reading lists for history months: Black History Month, AAPI History Month, Pride Month, and Latinx Heritage Month. What this mostly did was intentionally focus on authors or books I’d been meaning to read from my shelf. I’m a mood reader, so TBRs often don’t work for me.

My most-read “genres” were LGBTQIA+ (81 books), Romance (73), and Fantasy (51). My top-read 7 authors were Kresley Cole (9 books), Mariko Tamaki and Ngozi Ukazu (6), Katee Robert and Tui T. Sutherland (5), and Adriana Herrera and Ilona Andrews (4). I really got into Kresley Cole’s Immortals After Dark series, and I’ll likely finish everything in the unfinished series in 2024. Continue reading “Books I Read in 2023 & Think You Should Read in 2022”

Looking for Romance… Books?

Books covers for my top 5 books

I read 70+ romances this year, and here are my top 5 (so far).

My StoryGraph account says the genre I’ve read the most is LGBTQ+ books, but that’s not a real category, as it can encapsulate almost every type of book out there. Instead, what I’ve become is a romance reader.

If you’re unsure where you might start with romance — or if you’re looking to get a gift for a romance reader — here are my five favorite romances from this year (so far).

Almost all of them are contemporary romances, with one being historical. Four of them feature queer characters. Four of them are spicy (sex on-page), and one, the couple doesn’t even kiss due to their Muslim faith.

But all of them present some of the best writing in romance with strong characters, careful building of tension and relationships, and an ending that nails it. Continue reading “Looking for Romance… Books?”

What to Do (And Not) When Someone Comes Out to You

Pride glitter in a rainbow

Let’s be clear: coming out exists because you assumed we were cishet until we told you otherwise. Coming out exists because invisibility is erasure. Coming out exists because our current society deems anything outside of cis-heteronormativity1 as “other” at best and “deviant and condemnable” at worst.

In his June 25, 1978, Gay Freedom Day speech “That’s What America Is,” San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk2 asked every LGBTQ+ person to come out. He did not side-step the harsh realities of coming out and linked it directly to what coming out is: a political act.

The political is the personal when your personhood was not included in your nation’s founding laws. When your humanity and rights are debated and legislated in the public square3, you face the real consequences. Civil rights are not a cutesy problem of wedding cupcakes and websites. It’s the economy, stupid, when you can be fired from your job, evicted from your home, denied medical care, and a thousand other pieces that allow a person to function in society because you’re queer or trans.

Milk correctly identified that “There will be no safe ‘closet’ for any gay person” under far-right fascism. There is no “acceptable” way to be queer to cishet bigots.

I’ve come out to a lot of cishet people over my life.4 I’ve been violently outed. I’ve had cishet people shrug their shoulders and not care. I’ve had many cishet people be shocked. I’ve been called every anti-LGBTQ+ slur and dragged to conversion therapy. I’ve been out for the majority of my life, and I still too often brace myself for the worst.

In my experience, cishet people, even those who consider themselves allies,5 do not know how to behave when people come out. So let’s talk about that.

Continue reading “What to Do (And Not) When Someone Comes Out to You”

This Barbie is a Trans Nonbinary Person.

Left: A recent selfie of me with Barbie advertisement says This Barbie is a trans nonbinary person. Middle top: Photo of me at my 8th birthday with the Barbie cake. Middle bottom: Me and my Barbies and off-brand Barbie house Top right: my cake-making grandma and myself at my 8th birthday Bottom left: My brother Jonathan wrenching on the Barbie convertible with real tools.

Life in smooth plastic. It’s fantastic!

As a child, I had an army of Barbies. Not a modest country’s army. Like US military spending army. I got Barbies for every birthday and holiday. I had my mom’s old Barbies. I accumulated more Barbies from neighbors whose teenagers didn’t want them anymore, and plenty of garage sale finds. My maternal grandma made me a Barbie birthday cake where the cake was Barbie’s dress, and in the middle of the cake stood Barbie.1

My Barbies had an ice cream parlor (garage sale find), a horse stable (stolen from my younger brother), and an off-brand Barbie home (Christmas gift from the JCPenny catalog).2 I’d decorate their home with craft supplies and random things I found. Those little plastic pizza separators in personal Pizza Hut pizzas I’d earned in book reading contests made great Barbie stools.

Barbie could be anything. Barbie was in charge. Barbie served ice cream. Barbie rode horses and raised rabbits like me. Barbie went on dates with other Barbies. Barbies spent a lot of time obsessed with fashion. Barbie was an astronaut. Barbie was a supermodel. Barbie gossiped. Barbie fought, despite a largely unbendable body except for Figure Skating Barbie. Barbie was also friends with all the other Barbies, Kens, and even the lone Skipper.

Barbie was a storytelling and fashion vehicle. I could act out my little stories, and in between, Barbie could wear the loud neon fashions of the 1980s and 90s with too many ridiculous heels that mine mostly forwent. Continue reading “This Barbie is a Trans Nonbinary Person.”

The Trans Rights Readathon Results

Trans Rights Readathon Campaign Results Thank you! $3,050 raised for Trans Lifeline 30 donors 7 books read and book covers

Sometimes, even I forget that I can do something.

On Monday, the Trans Rights Readathon came to a close. I’m over the moon to report that we raised $3,050 for Trans Lifeline, a trans-led nonprofit that provides peer support and microgrants for trans people.

30 donors, plus myself, pledged to either pay per book I read during that week or made a flat donation to my campaign. I read a total of 7 books by trans authors.

My book list:

❤️ The Unbalancing by RB Lemberg (fantasy)
🧡 Cheer Up! Love and Pompoms by Crystal Frasier and Val Wise (YA romance comic)
💛 Heartwood: Non-binary Tales of Sylvan Fantasy, edited by Joamette Gil (YA fantasy comics)
💚 Your Body is Not Your Body: An Anthology, edited by Alex Woodroe and Matt Blairstone (horror short stories)
💙 Chef’s Kiss by TJ Alexander (contemporary romance)
💜 The Death of Vivek Oji by Akwaeke Emezi (literary fiction)
🖤 Whipping Girl by Julia Serano (nonfiction gender/queer studies)

The Trans Rights Readathon was a decentralized campaign kicked off by author Sim Kern, and anyone could join to read books by/about trans people and donate money to trans causes. Continue reading “The Trans Rights Readathon Results”

How Do You Read So Much?

A large library of bookshelves filled with books ending with a window with a window seat. All two-toned white and green

Reading pace and how I think about the quantity of what I read.

Reading pace is highly individualized, and each book may deserve a different pace. I can read some books in a single night, and some take me years.

Right now, I’m reading Michael W. Twitty’s The Cooking Gene,(1) which explores the historical and current foodways that led to African-American/Southern cuisine. The book isn’t a light read as Twitty traces Southern food back to the realities of chattel slavery and uses his family history as a guiding light. The chapters are dense. Some of the chapters depict the worst horrors humans inflicted on other humans.

I find myself reading it slowly. I find myself pausing. I find myself rereading passages. When Twitty lists out ethnic groups, ancestors’ names, geographic places (present or historical), or foods, and I find myself glazing over, I stop and go back. Because the people who were enslaved deserve that respect, unlike the fictional kings of Westeros, whose fictional names and places I will skim or skip.(2)

Again, The Cooking Gene is a good book. It’s just not an “easy” read for me. Nor should it be, and it’s okay that I’m not reading it at my “usual” pace.

The start of rethinking my reading

As an English major in college, my ability to knuckle down and get through a book came in handy. I always read the assigned readings in college.(3) My reading was seasoned in the fire of reading Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary and James Joyce’s Ulysses (and the book explaining Ulysses) for two different literature courses in the same semester.

But in my free time, I found myself unable to read books. Continue reading “How Do You Read So Much?”