This was a very challenging subject to approach. Why? Because it could so easily come off as offensive or misleading, and that is certainly not my intent.
I should preface this by saying I am a huge supporter of the LGBTQ community. I have, for decades, considered myself an ally to the cause. Many of my dearest friends are members of that community and I, a cisgender, straight male, am proud to know and support them in every way I can.
With that said, let me set the stage for you.
Last weekend I was combing through some of my older works and the comments surrounding them, when I realized there were two pieces that had become problematic. Those books are “A Blade Away” and “Shero.” These were the first two books I ever wrote (over 20 years ago) and both happen to center around transgender or cross-dressing characters.
Here’s where the problem is: 20 years ago, things weren’t quite as volatile as they are today. You could use the word “trans” a bit more generously. Today, trans is a very specific term applied to specific cross sections of people.
Watch the video that inspired this post.
To use trans in the wrong way is offensive. And therein lies the problem. Back when I wrote both Shero and A Blade Away, I didn’t know this. Twenty years ago, not many did. So my slip was innocent.
Today, however, people don’t always stop to look at the publish date of a book. It’s pretty easy to assume anything available was written recently. You can see where the problem lies with this.
Society changes. And I’m glad for that. Such evolutionary stages are necessary. And that we now live in a society that accepts the LGBTQ community so readily (not by all, of course) is a wondrous thing.
Consider this: If Schitt’s Creek had aired 20 years ago, it would have failed. Society back then wasn’t ready to handle a show that included a wonderfully happy gay couple and not actually make that a central issue. Schitt’s Creek made the couple a part of the universe without making it a thing. They just were and it was beautiful.
To rewrite or not to rewrite
That is, in fact, the question. Actually, the first question for me was, “Do I pull these books?” Of course, the answer to that question was a resounding “No!” I wrote those two books at a specific time in my life and for a specific reason (to celebrate the LGBTQ community). And although I am often tempted to go back and give them a bit of polish, I have no intention of retooling them to be better palatable for today’s society. Why? Because it shows us our evolution, where we were vs. where we are now.
It’s tricky business, this. It’s also incredibly important that we, as artists, step back and question our duty to society and how we help shape the narrative.
I’m still very proud of those two books. Sure, I read through them and sometimes cringe as my early writing. But I wouldn’t want to ever change their intent. A Blade Away and Shero are innocent pieces of art and will remain the same, even as society continues to change.
If I’ve piqued your interest, get a copy of A Blade Away