Not Cis in LIS: A Roundtable Discussion about being Trans in Libraries

Read the BCLA Perspectives article here

From the article:

In this article, five transgender library workers share our perspectives on different workplaces and educational experiences. We discuss barriers we have faced, strengths we bring to libraries, requests for cis colleagues, and advice for other trans folks considering library work or school. The questions posed were prepared by Allison, and participants chose which to respond to independently.

Women’s History Month

October is Women’s History Month in Canada, with this year’s theme being #MakeAnImpact. However, the impact made by LGBTQ+ women, particularly trans women and women of colour, is too often overlooked. Here are a few works by Canadian LGBTQ+ women.

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Holy Wild by Gwen Benaway

In her third collection of poetry, Holy Wild, Gwen Benaway explores the complexities of being an Indigenous trans women in expansive lyric poems. She holds up the Indigenous trans body as a site of struggle, liberation, and beauty. A confessional poet, Benaway narrates her sexual and romantic intimacies with partners as well as her work to navigate the daily burden of transphobia and violence. She examines the intersections of Indigenous and trans experience through autobiographical poems and continues to speak to the legacy of abuse, violence, and colonial erasure that defines Canada. Her sparse lines, interwoven with English and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), illustrate the wonder and power of Indigenous trans womanhood in motion. Holy Wild is not an easy book, as Benaway refuses to give any simple answers, but it is a profoundly vibrant and beautiful work filled with a transcendent grace.

I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shraya

A trans artist explores how masculinity was imposed on her as a boy and continues to haunt her as a girl–and how we might reimagine gender for the twenty-first century
Vivek Shraya has reason to be afraid. Throughout her life she’s endured acts of cruelty and aggression for being too feminine as a boy and not feminine enough as a girl. In order to survive childhood, she had to learn to convincingly perform masculinity. As an adult, she makes daily compromises to steel herself against everything from verbal attacks to heartbreak.
Now, with raw honesty, Shraya delivers an important record of the cumulative damage caused by misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia, releasing trauma from a body that has always refused to assimilate. I’m Afraid of Men is a journey from camouflage to a riot of colour and a blueprint for how we might cherish all that makes us different and conquer all that makes us afraid.

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For Your Own Good by Leah Horlick

A 2016 STONEWALL HONOUR TITLE in Literature.

In the canon of contemporary feminist and lesbian poetry, For Your Own Good breaks silence. A fictionalized autobiography, the poems in this collection illustrate the narrator’s survival of domestic and sexual violence in a lesbian relationship. There is magic in this work: the symbolism of the Tarot and the roots of Jewish heritage, but also the magic that is at the heart of transformation and survival.
These poems are acutely painful, rooted in singular and firsthand experiences. But Horlick also draws from a legacy of feminist, Jewish and lesbian writers against violence: epigraphs from the works of Adrienne Rich and Minnie Bruce Pratt act as touchstones alongside references to contemporary writers, such as Daphne Gottlieb and Michelle Tea.
In this reflection on grief, silence and community, we follow the narrator’s own journey as she explores what it is to survive, to change, to desire and to hope. At once unflinching and fragile, For Your Own Good is a collection with transformation at its heart.

Small Beauty by jia qing wilson-yang

Small Beauty tells the story of Mei, who in coping with the death of her cousin abandons her life in the city to live in his now empty house in a small town. There she connects with his history as well as her own, learns about her aunt’s long-term secret relationship, and reflects on the trans women she left behind. She also brushes up against some local trans mysteries and gets advice from departed loved ones with a lot to say.

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A Safe Girl to Love by Casey Plett

Eleven unique short stories that stretch from a rural Canadian Mennonite town to a hipster gay bar in Brooklyn, featuring young trans women stumbling through loss, sex, harassment, and love.
These stories, shiny with whiskey and prairie sunsets, rattling subways and neglected cats, show growing up as a trans girl can be charming, funny, frustrating, or sad, but never will it be predictable.

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom

Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars: A Dangerous Trans Girl’s Confabulous Memoir by Kai Cheng Thom is the highly sensational, ultra-exciting, sort-of true coming-of-age story of a young Asian trans girl, pathological liar, and kung-fu expert who runs away from her parents’ abusive home in a rainy city called Gloom. Striking off on her own, she finds her true family in a group of larger-than-life trans femmes who live in a mysterious pleasure district known only as the Street of Miracles. Under the wings of this fierce and fabulous flock, Dearly blossoms into the woman she has always dreamed of being, with a little help from the unscrupulous Doctor Crocodile. When one of their number is brutally murdered, the protagonist joins her sisters in forming a vigilante gang to fight back against the transphobes, violent johns, and cops that stalk the Street of Miracles. But when things go terribly wrong, she must find the truth within herself in order to stop the violence and discover what it really means to grow up and find your family.

PLIG/LGBTQ Journal Club Sept. 20

Hi everyone,

We’re excited to team up with the Public Libraries Interest Group to kick off their first journal club! Posted here is information about the event, links to the articles, and discussion questions.

Do you love research? Would you like an opportunity to meet and discuss
public library interest topics with your peers?
The BCLA Public Libraries Interest Group (PLIG) is pleased to introduce
the PLIG Journal Club, an informal “reading club” where you can engage
in dialogue about professional literature on selected topics.

SAVE THE DATE!
PLIG Journal Club #1 with co-host BCLA LGBTQ Interest Group
Thursday, September 20, 2018, 7:00-9:00 pm
Pollyanna Library: 100-221 E Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6A 1Z6
Everyone is welcome. Light snacks provided and cash wine bar available.

RSVP:
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/bcla-public-library-interest-group-journal-club-tickets-49481372116
Watch for information about sessions, topics, articles, and remote participation.
Gillian Bassett, Sara Ellis, Marisa Tutt
PLIG Journal Club organizers

Articles to Read and Discuss

Dawn Betts-Green, Don Latham. “Drawing Queerness: Evaluating Notable LGBTQ Graphic Novels for Teens.” The Journal of Research on Libraries and Young Adults, vol. 8, no. 2, Dec. 2017, pp. 1–23.

Stevens, Gregg A. “Curry’s Study on the Quality of Public Library Reference Service to LGBTQ Youth.” Evidence Based Library and Information Practice, vol. 13, no. 1, 2018, pp. 57–63.

Discussion Questions

We’ll have additional questions to get us talking at the event. To start, consider the following:

  • Does the article present a clearly focused issue?
  • Does the article present a valid representation of the topic? Consider how the research was performed and/or sources presented.
  • Do conclusions made by the author accurately reflect their analysis/discussion? If not, what more do we need to know?
  • Does the article shed light on any gaps or limitations in current knowledge and/or practice?
  • How might you use this information to inform your work?

Feel free to share your thoughts online as well! Comment on this post or tweet @BCLA_LGBTQ using the tag #BCLAjournalclub

LGBTQ+ Graphic Novels for Tweens and Younger Tweens

I love graphic novels and I’ll never pass up an opportunity to promote them, because, despite what some snooty parents and teachers have told me at the library, graphic novels are real books, thank you very much, and can make for perfect summer reading fare. Here are just a handful on fantastic graphic novels to put on your reading list this summer.

Princess Princess Ever After

This utterly adorable graphic novel puts a much-needed spin on the traditional fairy tale by having the princess in distress be rescued by, and fall in love with, a fellow princess. Sweet, gentle, and perfect for princess-loving readers everywhere.

Lumberjanes

Friendship to the max! A group of awesome girls at a summer camp are determined to have the best summer ever….even if it means fighting some pretty strange supernatural creatures or embarking on crazy quests! There’s an wonderful range of identities in this series, and the stories are artwork are fantastic. Lumberjanes is a whole lot of fun, and deserves all the hype it’s been getting on the interwebs.

Goldie Vance

I’ve shared my love of lesbian teenage sleuth Goldie Vance before, so her appearance on this list should come as no surprise. Readers who enjoy a good mystery will enjoy this fresh series inspired by classic teen detectives like Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden.

Skim

Being a teenager can be rough, especially when you don’t feel like you can be yourself, or that you even know yourself, for that matter. This period of realization, identity and crisis is explored in beautiful detail in the story of “Skim”, the name taken on by Japanese-Canadian “not slim” Wiccan high schooler Kim, who’s struggling to find herself, a process made even more complicated when she begins to develop feelings for a teacher.

Wandering Son

This manga series looks at the experiences of two children whose gender identities and expression challenge the more conservative cultural and social expectations of their community. Shuichi Nitori and Yoshino Takatsuki are two Japanese school children who struggle with their identities – one is a boy who feels like a girl, and the other is a girl who feels like a boy.

Interestingly, manga and anime featuring lesbian or gay romantic stories (百合 or やおい) is extremely common in Japan – as I’ve mentioned before, the first time I ever saw a lesbian couple on TV was in the anime Sailor Moon. While many of these series are targeted towards straight audiences and capitalize on the thrill of the forbidden “love that dare not speak its name”,  they can offer a means for creators and readers to push back against the prevalence of homophobia in society, and can even provide a lifeline for queer and questioning teens in a culture that is reluctant to even accept their existence. Shimura is noted for creating works that eschew the melodrama common in 百合 in favour of real stories – her series Sweet Blue Flowers, for example, was said to be “one of the most realistic portrayals of a young woman in love with another woman”.

Now these are just a few of the many incredible graphic novels for tweens and younger teens that include LGBTQ+ characters and content. What are some of your favourites??

This post was original posted on The Book Wars.