Books

With my PhD in English Literature at Edinburgh University about to begin, I will be reading lots of stuff this year. Do not expect weekly reviews, I do not read quickly. But I will share with you anything interesting I do read, whether it’s a novel that’s in vogue, or something from my course that I think is worth knowing that broadened my horizon. I’ll be reading a lot of things about transgender discourse, but hopefully, a lot of things which aren’t, as well.

Trauma Queen: a memoir by Lovemme Corazon

Trauma-Queen

Trauma Queen: a memoir by Lovemme Corazon

There are times when it's right to judge a book by its cover. Trauma Queen (2013), the memoir of then-19-year old trans woman of colour Lovemme Corazon, has a beauty within its pages and on its surface cover that's simultaneously self-confident and obscure. As I gaze at the book's front image, of the slender Corazon gazing in turn at me from a frame of sunflowers, I'm left uplifted by her story even as it prompts some head-shaking moments of sorrow, in a narrative that's constantly switching between radical politics and personal highs and lows.

Some of those highs occur as Corazon affirms confidence in her own sexuality – a rare thing in a transgender memoir:

'My hallmates are hanging out in one room together. I walk in with a trench coat covering up most of my body. They collectively gasp, ooh-ing and ahh-ing at my stockings . . . I part the trench coat and show off my new garter belt holding up my stockings. I'm showered with hoots of "Damn gurl! You so fine!" and "That is sexy as fuck." That's right. I am sexy.'

Other times, Corazon's self-image appears destabilized by the sexual and physical abuse she suffers growing up which cannot fail to shake you as a reader. Trauma Queen is arguably unique as a published book featuring these intersectional oppressions and experiences of the writer: a Californian teenager of colour in a highly racialized white society, who doesn't hold back on revealing episodes of abuse. Rejecting the value of one-to-one therapy as an outlet, meanwhile, Corazon turns to social media and community to lift herself, as well as through story-telling. Her vulnerability therefore is complex: it exists throughout, but so too does a fierce self-awareness and self-examination.

It is this defiance of Corazon as a queer and trans person of colour (QTPOC) that arguably serves as the one constant in a narrative of ever-evolving and every-changing self-appraisal. The white-picket transgender politics of Clintonite and trans activist Sarah McBride is entirely missing. Instead we see a regular hostility and suspicion of white-dominated mainstream narratives including those from white-dominated LGBTQIA+ politics. Corazon's final moving words typify her position outside this white exclusion, including policy positions you would never hear in white mainstream LGBTQIA+ spaces:

'Dreams will save your life . . . I dream that the prison-industrial complex will be destroyed, that we go beyond education reform, that we have open border policies, that we give back land to indigenous folks . . . I dream for health care services that are queer and trans empowering, for care practices that are non-abusive and sexually exploitive of disabled people. I dream of liberation.'

I end this review by signalling my frustration that Trauma Queen currently appears to be out of print. Lovemme Corazon's visceral, coruscatingly raw perspective, as a sensitive and angry queer and trans person of colour, is just the kind we need to hear, not least for its exposure of the racialized nature of our white Western society, and of how LGBTQIA+ politics should aspire to be much more than a single-issue domain. Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised by the book's recent marginalization but I hope it's given fresh opportunities by some publishing company or other with sufficient vision. In the meantime, ask you library to get a copy – as I did. Trauma Queen represents a rare, shining jewel in the sometimes banal history of mainstream-published transgender narratives.

P.S. one book on the market that currently features Lovemme Corazon's thoughts on art and mental health is Nia King's insightful Queer and Trans Artists of Color – which I also recommend.
Gifted Transgender Writers: Jamie Berrout
Heart of the Race: Black Women's Lives in Britain
 

Comments

No comments made yet. Be the first to submit a comment
Guest
Thursday, 06 May 2021

Captcha Image

What's On This Week

My Latest Posts

May 02, 2021

When Renata Carvalho spoke at Edinburgh Transgender Intersectional/International (2019)

In 2019, I was part of a conference that invited the travesti actress and activist Renata Carvalho - star of Jo Clifford's 'The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven' on its touring production in Brazil - to come over from Brazil as our keynote speaker. We originally uploaded the speech on our conference website, but with that w...
December 22, 2020

Lacanian Icarus: when Gina flew too close to the sun?

On the recent experience of nearly being no-platformed There are two identities in one when it comes to being part of a disempowered minority. The first is for yourself: all your failings, your insecurities, your doubts, and connected to this, your curiosity and quirks. Let's be Lacanian analysts for a moment: what we're talking about is the transg...
November 17, 2020

Trans Hell-thcare

The picture accompanying this post is important to me. I took it yesterday, 16 November 2020, unsure what I'd find. It's been nearly eleven months since I came off oestrogen for reasons I'll get into in a moment. Undoubtedly this has had an effect on me, bodily and therefore psychologically, but the accompanying selfie gives me a reassura...
July 01, 2020

Silenced by The Scotsman

Update: in view of my recent shift towards a more sympathetic and supportive position with Gender-Critical feminism, this blog post might seem incongruous. It does represent my distress at the way the media portrayed the JK Rowling furore at the time. However, since that time, and in further studying the statements and positions of JK Rowling ...
May 11, 2020

The Book of Queer Prophets, curated by Ruth Hunt

in Books

  The Book of Queer Prophets: 24 Writers on Sexuality and Religion The historically fraught relationship between Abrahamic religions and LGBT+ identities provides the backdrop to The Book of Queer Prophets , a collection of twenty-four meditations by public figures who identify as both religious and LGBT+. The book's curator, the for...
May 09, 2020

Queer/Transgender short film: Mesmeralda

Joshua Matteo's short film, Mesmeralda , merging horror with esoterica, is now out on youtube . As with his previous work Metanoia , we see youthful trans actors racing through the empty streets of a moonlit New York, haunted by symbols and stalked by a masked figure of violent intentions. Mesmeralda , as described by Matteo, is the companion ...
March 08, 2020

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare

Sterile like the moon: the joys of transgender healthcare Summer, 2016: Gina's Big Bang, as transitioning begins A bureaucratic question in a sun-lit room. My medical practitioner asks me if I intend to have children. The question lingers, but the self-loathing is instant. No, I won't be having children. The practitioner nods. She moves on to the n...
November 10, 2019

General Election

General Election 12 December 2019 I spent the last election in an office, alone but for the company of a colleague. We watched the BBC's coverage while I drank wine, downbeat and expecting austerity and the absence of hope to triumph. Then we saw the exit poll and hung around, disbelieving at the sight of the kindled embers and lukewarm glow of a f...
Joker
October 05, 2019

Joker

October 05, 2019

Joker

Joker The trailer did its work, flashing images of anomie and fury perfectly pitched for these unstable times of precarious working conditions, grievance and institutional indifference. For these same reasons, Joker , directed by Todd Phillips and starring Joaquin Phoenix as the protagonist, has attracted pre-release criticisms like few other recen...