In the last few years we have seen the beginnings of an expansion of transmasculine narratives in books for readers of all ages. Where once we had to read between the lines or transpose our own trans narratives on to characters in the form of fanfiction or metafiction, now there are an increasing number of transmasculine stories being published by major publishing houses. Charis welcomes authors Lexie Bean and Tobly McSmith to discuss the differences in tone, style, and scope of their books and explore what it means that published stories for trans and non-binary people are increasingly diverse in their concerns and audiences.
Lexie Bean's, The Ship We Built, which is geared towards middle readers, tells the story of 10-year-old Rowan, who has too many secrets to write down in the pages of a diary. He is neither the "right kind" of girl, or the "right kind" of boy. His mom ignores him. And at night, his dad hurts him in ways he's not ready to talk about yet. This heartfelt, emotionally raw narrative delicately and respectfully covers complex issues including homophobia, transphobia, substance abuse, sexual abuse, and racism, that many young people around the world face, compounded by Rowan's status as a trans boy.
Tobly McSmith's, Stay Gold, which is geared at teen readers, tells the story of Pony who just wants to fly under the radar during senior year. Tired from all the attention he got at his old school after coming out as transgender, he’s looking for a fresh start at Hillcrest High. But it’s hard to live your best life when the threat of exposure lurks down every hallway and in every bathroom. Then, on the very first day of school, Pony and Georgia, a cheerleader who is trying to keep a low profile until graduation, lock eyes. How is Pony supposed to stay stealth when he wants to get close to a girl like Georgia? Funny and poignant, clear-eyed and hopeful, Stay Gold is a story about finding love—and finding yourself.
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Lexie Bean is a queer and trans multimedia artist from the Midwest. Their work in film, literature, and curation revolves around themes of bodies, homes, cyclical violence, and LBTQIA+ identity. Lexie is a Lambda Literary Award Finalist and passionate about creating honest and complex trans narratives that "transition and grow" alongside them. Their writing has been featured in Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, The Feminist Wire, Ms. Magazine, Them, Logo's New Now Next, Bust Magazine, Autostraddle, and more. The Ship We Built is their debut novel supported with residencies at the Sundress Academy, Paragraph New York, and the Santa Cruz Bookshop. Like the protagonist, Lexie has a deep resonance with water, letter writing, and is also a survivor of childhood sexual abuse.
Tobly McSmith is author of Stay Gold, a young adult novel about love, staying true to yourself, and transgender issues. He has created The Stay Gold Fund to provide financial assistance for gender affirming health care to transgender and non-binary people in need. Tobly is the co-creator/writer of eight somewhat successful musical parodies, including Friends!, The Office!, Love Actually! and The Katdashians! Tobly was born in Texas, and now lives in New York City with his two cats, Bam-Bam and Bananas. For more info: www.staygoldpony.com and www.staygoldfund.org
Tender and wise, The Ship We Built is about the bravery it takes to stand up for yourself—even to those you love—and the power of finding someone who treasures you for everything you are.
Debut author Tobly McSmith delivers a coming-of-age teen love story about a transgender boy who’s going stealth at his new Texas high school and a cisgender girl who is drawn to him, even as she’s counting down the days until graduation. Perfect for fans of David Levithan, Becky Albertalli, and Jenny Han.