Fox Fisher is an artist, film-maker and trans-activist, who is appearing at WriteNow London this September. To find out more about WriteNow - which aims to find, mentor and publish those voices underrepresented on the nation's bookshelves, see here.
Books are such a huge part of our lives and I think that there are very few people that haven’t delved into books and been totally encased in storylines and worlds beyond our own. For many of us we become a part of the adventure and it’s often a total escape from reality. As a child, books were a colourful escape from my own reality, a black and white world. Stories helped me work out my own thoughts and to realise who I really was. For people who are trans like me, it helped me cope with a world that seemingly didn’t know where to place me or how to deal with me.
In books I found parts of people or stories that resonated with my own experiences. I took what I could, because often we don’t see any trans people in books at all. I learned to read between the lines.
Growing up I always hoped that somebody would write books about being someone like me...
Growing up I always hoped that somebody would write books about being someone like me; someone who was considered a girl by everyone around them because of their name and body parts, but who really wasn’t a girl at all. I needed these books, these stories, these characters so that I would know it was possible to be trans. I needed them so that I could see myself represented, in a positive light. And not just books focusing on trans people’s transition, but just as characters and people getting on with life or as a part of a bigger story. If there had been more trans characters in books I know I’d have been more aware and confident in my own identity and it would’ve saved me years and years of depression, anxiety and self-hate.
Anyone who belongs to an underrepresented group probably feels there is a lack of characters to relate to or that they can resonate with. As someone who has taken the leap to socially and medically transition and lived to tell the tale, I have the experience and understanding to be the one shaping stories and narratives with trans characters. Once I’d sorted myself out, I realised that I could be that creator of content to create stories and narratives that have a positive and realistic representation of trans characters. As a trans person myself I can do that with a deeper understanding of what it is to be trans.
Often books have been written about us without the authors or contributors knowing anything about trans lives and we end up as tired tropes or plot devices. This is why it’s so important that people of all different backgrounds write stories and have a chance to shape narratives, worlds and characters that see beyond a superficial understanding of our issues and realities. This is why I decided to get involved and start writing. I am proud to have published my first kid’s book, ‘Are You A Girl or Are You A Boy?’ which tackles the issue of gender and how it shouldn’t matter what gender we are and that we don’t have to be tied down to the notion of being a boy or a girl. Not everyone is a boy or girl, and that’s the way it’s always been. Indigenous cultures can teach the western world a thing or two on that front.
I hope to continue creating more kids books so that trans and gender nonconforming children and teenagers can see themselves represented and see that they aren’t alone. Because feeling alone and not having anyone to relate to is probably one of the hardest things trans people often go through. I am excited that future generations can use books to find aspects of themselves rather than just using books to escape their lives. If I can help people find stories that resonate with them, I know I am giving back to the little kid that I used to be, who craved those stories.