"I check Twitter and nearly spit out my coffee. I’m tagged in a post by the
Florida Freedom To Read Project, stating that a number of library books have
been taken off the shelves, including mine.
I stare at a photograph of a trolley full of banned books, rounded up in one
day, in one library, and locate the black spine of the Trans Teen Survival
– a book that I wrote with my partner, Owl. It is sitting next to a book
called This Book Is Anti-Racist
, and I think to myself that you can’t get
much more explicit than that in your agenda to ban books that are meant to
Since mid-2022, the policy in Clay County, Florida, has been to remove a book
from shelves in libraries as soon as there’s a complaint from anyone. It
transpires that my book, among 150 other “controversial” ones, is now having to
await review after a complaint from one member of the public. With just a few
books being reviewed each month, some life-saving, educational and
thought-provoking titles may be off the shelves and trapped in limbo for years,
if not for ever. Our book is just one of 133 titles removed from the district
on 31 January.
Owl and I created the Trans Teen Survival Guide
to help support transgender
people and their families, and to educate allies. If anything like it had
existed when I was growing up, it would have been a gamechanger for me. I was
considered a naughty child for not conforming to what was expected of me as a
girl. I had to muddle through so much, trying to navigate the wrong puberty,
with no green light to explore my gender.
At one point, when I was 10, my mum used to save empty plastic egg boxes so I
could stomp on them when I was frustrated. It might have fixed the moment, but
it didn’t fix that aching feeling that I felt like an alien in my body. A book
like this would have given me hope, and a better quality of life. If I had only
got the memo then that it was OK for me to not be a girl, it would have saved
me hours of therapy later in life, unpacking years and years of trauma and bad
decisions. I would have shown it to my parents, who might have started to
understand why I was so angry.
The book is dedicated to a close friend, a young trans woman who provided great
support in the community and who took her own life while the book was still
being created. Although it was personally important for us to write it, I was
surprised that it’s become our publisher’s biggest-selling book to date in the
LGBTQIA+ category, and has since been translated into Spanish and Polish."
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics