Getting on Testosterone Changed My Life for the Better

This week on xojane, I talked about my experience with getting on testosterone. After previous articles on my surgeries, pronouns, and crying, I realized the next logical topic was my hormones. While not all nonbinary people choose to get on hormones, for me it was a vital part of my transition. Not everything about them is great (I didn’t know I could grow hair so many places!) but overall testosterone has made me a happier, healthier, and stronger person.

Release Day: Rule of Three

Rule of Three cover

Today my debut novella, Rule of Three, was released by Less Than Three Press. I’m very excited; this is the culmination of nearly a year of hard work from me, my editor, and my publisher.

In December 2014, I was sitting at the bus station talking to a friend about my idea for a novella with two rival magicians, one of whom summons an incubus in a misguided attempt to impress the other. These events would, of course, lead to a steamy threeway. Now, in November 2015, you can finally read the final version of that story.

If you didn’t preorder the novella, pick it up today! Either way, consider leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads to help other readers decide if it’d be a novella they’d enjoy.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll have more fiction and nonfiction for all of you in the coming months.

Bluestockings Boutique Photoshoot

I’m first and foremost an author, but occasionally life grants me other opportunities. Sometimes it’s difficult to go outside my comfort zone, but I want to push myself when it’s something important to me, such as queer visibility.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a unique opportunity to participate in a photoshoot for Bluestockings Boutique, an online LGBTQIA+ lingerie and underthings boutique. Jeanna, the amazing founder and owner of Bluestockings, put out a call for models over the summer and I responded. I honestly wasn’t sure what exactly she was looking for (besides “LGBTQIA models”), or if I’d fit in with the group, but I wanted to give it a try.

I’m so glad I took the chance and replied because not only did it work out for me to participate, but it was an amazing experience!

One of the pairs of underwear Jeanna had me wear matched my tattoo, completely by accident!
One of the pairs of boxers matched my tattoo, completely by accident!

As I communicated with Jeanna in the weeks leading up to the shoot, I did some thinking about why I wanted to participate. After all, I’m a writer, not a model. In my writing, I purposefully include a wide variety of queer characters, including those who are nonbinary, transgender, bisexual, gay, lesbian, asexual-spectrum, or some combination of the above.

However, representation is important enough to me that I wasn’t content to let this opportunity pass me by. I really love the idea of a queer lingerie boutique. As a nonbinary person, I feel uncomfortable shopping for men’s and women’s underwear alike, frustrated by the severe gender binary of both the products and the marketing. I want to increase positive nonbinary visibility, and being a part of this photoshoot was a great way to do that.

Perhaps the most compelling reason that I wanted to participate was more personal. As many of you know, I had both top surgery and middle surgery this summer. Getting my breasts and internal reproductive organs removed was a vital step towards being happier with my body and confirming my nonbinary gender. However, we still live in a society with a lot of narrow beauty standards that glorify and sexualize breasts, while scars are viewed as unappealing, if not downright ugly. I still struggle with some of these messages, since I internalized many societal beauty standards while being raised as a girl. As such, being part of the photoshoot was a little bit scary for me, but I wanted my nonbinary self to be visible through this photoshoot, scars and all.

The scars from my middle surgery showed up, subtly, in the pictures.
The scars from my middle surgery showed up, subtly, in the pictures.

The Bluestockings Boutique photoshoot was one of the most body-positive and gender-affirming experiences I’ve had in my life. It was so freeing to have everyone use the correct pronouns for me even though most people there were near-strangers to me. The models were diverse: all part of the LGBTQIA community, two other models on the trans or nonbinary spectrum, and two out of the six people of color. Everyone was kind, friendly, and supportive. It really felt like hanging out with a bunch of friends while we happened to be in our underwear.

I don’t have plans to continue modeling, but I feel lucky to have had this opportunity with Bluestockings. I had a great time, made new friends, contributed to nonbinary visibility, and helped out an LGBTQIA+ business. If you’re in the market for underwear, regardless of your gender or orientation, I hope you’ll look into Bluestockings Boutique. Everyone deserves to feel comfortable shopping for underwear, not just those who fall into binary, cisnormative standards of beauty.

Group shot of all six LGBTQIA models from the photoshoot
The wonderful group of Bluestockings Boutique models!

On Crying

Testosterone has changed a lot of things about me, both mental and physical, but perhaps one of the biggest changes was losing the ability to cry. I used to cry very easily but after being on testosterone for a while, I essentially lost the ability to cry. This shift made me realize how toxic cultural attitudes around crying are, and how a propensity for crying is usually hormonal, not a choice.

With these experiences in mind, I wrote In Defense of Crying for xojane. In the article, I discuss what it was like being a person who cried all the time, and how my life has changed now that I don’t cry much. I also explore some of the messages we receive about crying and talk about how these messages can be misleading if not toxic.

Sneak Peek: Rule of Three

Rule of Three, my debut novella, will be released on November 18th by Less Than Three Press. As part of the Intertwined collection, Rule of Three explores a polyamorous relationship between a male magician, a genderqueer magician, and a demon. It’s an erotic, urban fantasy romance with a dash of humor added for good measure.

Since the release date for Rule of Three is only one month away now, here’s a sneak peek at the story:

Suddenly, the flame died. As it was snuffed by an unseen force, I was suddenly aware that I was drenched in sweat. I backed towards the wall, groping for the light switch. I knew I’d done everything perfectly, so there was no reason this should have gone wrong. Don’t be terrified; the demon will be safely kept inside the salt circle, I reminded myself.

“If you’re going to summon me, the least you could do is give me a proper welcome,” a baritone voice purred through the darkness.

I froze. Well, something had clearly worked. Carefully, I flipped the light switch.

My offerings and candle had vanished, replaced by what I could only assume was my demon. Clad only in tight pants, he was sprawled on the floor and stretching like some kind of infernal cat. He looked almost like a man at first glance, though the small goat-like pair of horns on his forehead made it clear I hadn’t accidentally summoned an astoundingly attractive mortal. His hair was a rich shade, not dark enough for me to call it black, but glossier than any brown I’d seen before. In contrast, his skin was ghostly pale and eerily free of any freckles, marks, or imperfections. A number of heavy gold-and-jewel rings sparkled on his both hands. I’d expected my first-ever demon sighting to stir up a healthy fear, maybe even terror, but instead I found myself checking him out. It was like he’d known my type, given how surprisingly lithe and slender he looked, with the faintest definition of muscle under his skin. I’d expected the hulking, red-skinned monstrosity from most spellbook illustrations, not something… hot.

“Well?” the demon asked, rolling back onto his side, one leg stretched and the other bent in a position clearly meant to show himself off. I tried not to gulp, getting nervous in a way that was much more appropriate for a first date than an encounter with a dangerous otherworldly being. “You can’t summon me into your home—I presume this is your home?—without some kind of pleasantries. Not if you want to start off on my good side.” He winked, sparkling lashes closing for the quickest moment over one bright blue eye.

“Greetings, creature of Hell,” I said, barely able to keep from stammering. “I’ve summoned you here to serve me for a small task.”

“Greetings to you, creature of Earth,” he replied. To my discomfort, he made no move to get up. “I’m delighted to hear that you’ve brought me to you with a purpose, rather than to merely dick around. Oh, but wait, that’s certainly why you’ve summoned me, isn’t it?” He grinned widely at his own joke, but all I managed was a nervous titter. “Though I do make it a policy to introduce myself prior to any intimate contact. Call me old-fashioned. More accurately, call me Alistair.”

“Oh, right—hi, Alistair—I’m Ian Thornewright.”

“Charmed.” Alistair looked me over hungrily, his eyes lingering on each part of me. It was unnerving, especially when he began to pull himself to his feet without breaking eye contact. “So, Ian, what fantasies are you harboring that are so deviant you needed to summon to satiate them?” He drew himself up to full height and dusted his pants off. I was relieved to find he wasn’t much taller than me. Seriously, he was not fitting my idea of what demons looked like, though I wasn’t going to complain.

“I didn’t mean to summon an incubus. A demon, yes, but not specifically a sex demon, err, one like you.” Was calling him a “sex demon” rude? Crap.

Alistair drew one thin eyebrow up in carefully calculated disbelief, a gesture that was both clearly practiced and unfairly effective in quickening my heart rate. His brief, incredulous frown flipped upside-down into a shark-toothed smile. My reaction to his expression was about as naked to him as his chest was bare.

“Regardless of your intentions, you’d best deal with what you called.” Alistair took a couple of steps forward before he bounced back, wincing. “Oww!”

“Yeah, there’s a circle to keep you in. Sorry, I was expecting someone more powerful—no, shit, no offense.” It was all I could do not to bury my face in my hands. “Powerful in a different way. Scary? No, you’re scary too. Unless you don’t want to be? Um, am I that funny?” I asked self-consciously as Alistair began to chuckle again.

“In the most endearing way. Now, be a darling and smudge this silly salt circle of yours,” Alistair purred.

Preorder Rule of Three now!

Gender & Orientation Diversity in Queer Romance

As I continue to read and write queer romance, I’m becoming more aware of the importance of diversity. I’m taking a class, Writing The Other, to work on improving my portrayal of people of other races, backgrounds, ages, etc., but even on the level of gender and orientation, I think there’s more ground to cover.

Most queer romance publishers publish more cisgender gay male romance than anything else. I have no doubt that this is partly due to what their readers buy the most and partly due to the sort of submissions they get. Before I started writing original work for publication, I was active in a couple of fandoms and I noticed the same trend there. There’s tons of M/M, a little bit of F/F, and then an uneven smattering of everything else (somewhat varying by fandom, of course). You can find stories with trans or nonbinary characters, asexual characters, polyamory, bisexual or pansexual characters, etc. but if you combined all of those, you’ll probably still end up with less than the number of gay cisgender M/M stories out there.

As a writer, I want to include a variety of orientations, gender identities, and relationship configurations in my work. I’ve read and loved some fabulous cisgender, monogamous,M/M romance. I think it’s a great thing, and I’m glad it’s so popular. I’d just like to see other relationship models become more common as well.

I’m trying to challenge myself to write many different relationship configurations, with different genders and different orientations. In Rule of Three, two of the characters are cisgender male (one human, one not) while the last is genderqueer and uses ze/zir pronouns. In Creation Debt, a rogue ex-scientist falls for an agender android. Goblet’s Edge explores the development of a threeway relationship between a duke, his servant, and the queen, from the perspective of the male bisexual servant. My latest project, Trial By Fire (still in edits), stars two lesbian superheroes, one cisgender and one transgender.

As a reader, I make a point of buying a variety of romance. I try to purchase stories with trans and nonbinary characters, polyamory, and other less common types of queer romance. I still buy some M/M, especially if it’s speculative and by an author I like, but I want to do my part from the reader’s side to show publishers: Yes, there is a demand for bisexual, transgender, nonbinary, pansexual, asexual, and polyamorous romance!

I hope that as the genre of queer romance continues to blossom, we’ll continue to see the variety of stories increase as well. M/M romance is great, but there are a lot of other types of relationships we could do to see more of.

Pronouns, Pronouns, Pronouns

I’m a fan of neopronouns. Neopronouns are singular pronouns designed to fill the gaps beyond “he” and “she.” While singular “they” is catching on, many resourceful nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people have designed new pronouns (neopronouns!) to refer to someone who is neither male nor female.

I myself use “ze/zir/zir” as my preferred pronoun, though I’ll also accept “they/them/their.” Two of the novellettes I’ve written (one of which is available for preorder now) have characters who use neopronouns. In my personal life, many of my friends use neopronouns and they have caught on easily in my social group.

Since neopronouns are important to me as a nonbinary person but still a concept not everyone’s familiar or comfortable with, I wrote an article for xojane: Unpopular Opinion: We Need More Pronouns. While it’s not an unpopular opinion amongst queer circles, I’m hoping that with more visibility we can make people more comfortable and accepting of new pronouns that validate, rather than erase, nonbinary people.