You probably already know about Goodreads, a great website for finding books to read. In case you don’t already know about this feature of it, though, let me point you to Goodreads Giveaways, where authors and publishers post titles of books to give away to interested readers. You opt in for any books you’re interested in, and then when the giveaway ends, winners are randomly chosen from people like you who expressed interest. Then, if it’s a Kindle giveaway, the recipients get a free electronic copy, and if it’s a paper book giveaway, they receive a free copy in the mail.
We’re down to the last four days to opt in for a chance to receive a signed copy of Bi-Gender: A Candid Nonbinary Memoir, which you can most easily find on this page: https://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/genre/Gay%20and%20Lesbian . If you don’t already have a Goodreads account, you’ll need to create one (free and only takes a minute or two) to participate. Good luck!
Before I speak to more specifics, though, I want to point out how broad and inclusive the spectrum of gender identities in these stories were. While I’m quite interested in fiction about what you might call “traditional” transgendered people, who each identify as just one discrete gender (which doesn’t match their birth sexes), being nonbinary, I’m keenly interested in stories about characters who are not strictly male or female, whether trans or not. To my surprise and great pleasure, Transcendent 2 offered a real wealth of stories like that.
Because so many of these stories are written by non-cisgender people, the trans and nonbinary characters in them are not used as gimmicks or tokens: by and large, they’re complicated, diverse people whose genders are not the most important or most striking thing about them. To go from reading about almost no trans/enby characters straight to full-fledged ones, without having to go through an intermediary stage of diversity for diversity’s sake, is a privilege.
While my enthusiasm for the individual stories was mixed, there was no lack of good writing, and I imagine another reader might well pick other favorites. A few of mine included
A. Merc Rustad’s “This Is Not a Wardrobe Door,” about childhood friends in other worlds
“Three Points Masculine,” in which An Owomoyela opens up some of the complex issue of a trans person’s own response to other kinds of trans people
Keffy Kehrli’s queerly and engagingly imaginative “The Road, and the Valley, and the Beasts”
Toby MacNutt’s “The Way You Say Goodnight,” with its half-metaphoric delving into individual burdens, disabilities, identities, and hidden strengths, and
“Her Sacred Spirit Soars,” S. Qiouyi Lu’s beautifully evolving story of transference of spirit, oneness, loneliness, and layered identity. While this felt like the least trans stories in the anthology to me, it had one of the most unusual approaches to the idea. For fans of literary rule-breaking, it also is one of those rare pieces of fiction that uses the second person well.
Some other stories caught my imagination less, but the variety and the consistently high quality of the writing prevented any from being stories I skipped, which in such a varied anthology is a real accomplishment for me as a reader. I generally stop reading books or stories the moment I decide they aren’t likely to have anything I really want to offer, and that didn’t happen once in this book. Take a look, and see for yourself.
My experience is that bi-gender people tend to be very isolated from other bi-gender people: bi-gender isn’t a well-known or widely used gender identity. I have yet to meet another person who definitively identifies as bi-gender face to face, even though I’ve met many other people who identify as nonbinary and have connected virtually with dozens of other bi-gender people. For other bi-gender people, the gulf may be even wider. That’s why we’re lucky to have at least two supportive and well-established bi-gender communities (and if there are more, please let me know so that I can list those as well)!
The first place I found online to connect with other bi-gender people is bigender.net (no hyphen). This is an old school online forum, and while the interface isn’t exactly up to the minute and it’s not swarming with people, there are always at least a few long-term participants available to connect with. The forum format makes it possible to have extended, in-depth conversations. I’ve met several good friends on this board.
By the way, if you join, don’t try to later log in through http://www.bigender.net without the /forum at the end of it. The home page for the site is for a journals feature that uses a completely different login system and is slated for retirement.
I’m newer to the second community, but it’s a lively group of Facebook users called Bigender Support . Here too, members are strongly supportive and worth getting to know. You don’t have to be bi-gender to participate; the group is for both bi-gender people and allies. It’s a closed group: you must apply first to participate.