Publishers’ Preview: Debut Authors: Five Questions for Kathryn Gonzales

Publishers' Previews: Special advertising supplement in The Horn Book Magazine

This interview originally appeared in the July/August 2019 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Debut Authors, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You is a comprehensive introduction to trans identities, with facts and first-person accounts, providing information and support to readers.

1. As a fifteen-year-old, to which page of this book would you have turned first?

Always a rule follower, I would have started at the beginning and worked my way through the book page by page. But my two favorite parts of the book are at the beginning: our “Dear Reader” letter that reminds the reader that our trans ancestors were no less than gods; and our examination of gender identity demonstrating that being trans or nonbinary is not a new thing or a Western thing. We have existed all over the world and all through history.

2. How did you gather the first-person accounts from young people included here?

My co-author Karen Rayne and I put out a call for youth contributors through our personal networks as well as social media. Youth who were interested in participating filled out a brief questionnaire, and with that information we were able to select as diverse a set of voices as possible.

3. How did the two of you work together?

Really, really well. Having never written a book before, I relied on Karen’s experience to help me develop a researching and writing process. We delivered a manuscript that was well polished because we were always reading and revising each other’s work.

4. Do you have a favorite depiction of trans life, whether book or film?

While many feel that she is not a good depiction, I will forever be grateful for Bernadette Bassenger (portrayed by Terence Stamp) in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert. When I saw the film at age nineteen, she helped me understand who I was always meant to be.

5. Does telling teens “it gets better” help?

I’ve worked with LGBTQIA+ teens for fifteen years, so I can share directly that it is only a small part of what helps. To a twelve-year-old, hearing “it gets better” acknowledges a future state in which their life might be better, but it does nothing to address the day-to-day struggles of family rejection, religious persecution, and in-school harassment. Our youth would be better served by adults who say, “It gets better in the future, and I will do everything in my power to make it better in the present, too.”

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