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The Collection: Short Fiction From The Transgender Vanguard

by Andrew  Clark
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Wednesday Oct 17, 2012
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"The Collection: Short Fiction From the Transgender Vanguard" is a strong, important collection of fiction from emerging trans voices in our country that is masterfully compiled and edited by the newly formed Topside Press and its founders Tom Leger and Riley MacLeod. Without the use of big names or a main focus on one story that so often plagues collections such as this, this compilation manages to use a stunningly diverse group of voices to weave a picture of the current status of living as a trans American.

It is no secret that of the LGBT movement, the T is what is so often either silent or ignored. With an issue of gender identity, so often trans people do not "identify" as such. They either choose to identify as their biological gender or their intended one. Additionally, too often the LGB side of the community not only dominates the conversation by nature of sheer numbers, but also by purposeful exclusion. This can be seen in bars all the way through to federal legislation. The voice of the trans community is a quiet one despite arguably having the experience most worth shouting about.

It is with this in mind that I began to work my way through this collection, and it is also with this in mind that I revelled in how representative the selections were. Not only is there a strong image of every creed, race, and economic background, but also it is a trans image. One story finds a Brooklyn hipster type chasing down information on her biggest intellectual influence. Another goes deep into the small-town south where winning a speed-eating contest is the only ticket to freedom. Casey Plett’s exceptional "Other Women" explores the difficulties associated with sexuality for trans people, while Elliot Devine’s "Dean and Teddy" displays simply trying to come to terms with oneself.

One positive way of reviewing this collection would be to continue to note the breathtaking variety of trans stories available, all carefully plucked by its editors. What is a more important note to make is that the selections relating to trans people is ultimately not what leads the narratives. Rather like most media that depicts the underrepresented, "The Collection" seeks to tell the fictional stories of real people doing real things in real places. It is truly drawn from the vanguard of trans writers, and amazingly each story has the merit to be included in any modern American fiction collection, not just one focused on the trans community.

"The Collection" is special in its uniform level of quality, its diversity in voices included, and its pioneering mission to expose exceptional writers in a community ignored. I had high expectations for it before I even cracked it open, and I am happy to report that each was met with blinding brilliance.

"The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard"
Edited by Tom Leger and Riley MacLeod
Topside Press
$19.95

by Tom Leger and Riley MacLeod

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