I pushed her away. I walked to the door.
I fell to the floor. I got down on my knees.
I looked at her, and she at me.
Well that's the way that I want it to stay.
And I always want it to be that way for my Lola.
Lo lo lo lo Lola.
Girls will be boys, and boys will be girls.
It's a mixed up, muddled up, shook up world,
Except for Lola. Lo lo lo lo Lola.
2015 – Artefact #09 (cassette facsimile) obtained at the BATTLE OF AVALON GULCH
2021 – Cooper Institute established. First metamorphs born.
2040 – Tiresias launched.
It’s been awhile since we’ve all gone out together. So we intend to make a day it. Xavier, always the early bird, was making rainbow swirl cake when I woke up. I boiled some water and added eggs. A few shells cracked and things got a bit puffy. Mostly they worked out.
The communal parklands are only a 15 minute commute away, but I can count the number of times I’ve been on one hand. Rod jogs there most mornings, but he never goes in, it’s his turn back point. We set up under an oak. The roots and branches are thick, and some of the lower ones droop and brush the ground. They make great back-rests.
Rod is in a mood, and we kiss. He rolls up my shirt, exposing my midriff. Joaquin, my primary, but not the father, pours tea from a thermos. We talk about Institute office politics, and the Bardarbunga eruption, and what song we are going to sing for karaoke at Ira and Clarice’s civil ceremony. John Green passed on a week ago and is still trending. We reminisce about his books and videos. Xavier says that his whole Manic Pixie Dream Uncle persona shitted him right the fuck off as a teen and we pelt him with pistachio shells.
A group of kids play on a jungle gym. They wear lycra jumpsuits, to accommodate their fluid, mutable bodies. Their legs grow longer as they run, their arms as they climb. When they rough and tumble they make themselves as big as they can. There are no bruises or scabbed scrapes afterwards. A statue of military man with a bushy moustache looks past them, in the direction of the launch site.
The baby kicks. Rod grins. “What do you think our little astronaut’ll be in the ultrasound tomorrow. Boy or girl?”
“It was boy last time. And the time before that. It’s due girl again.” Xavier says.
“Whatever one, it’ll be neither, really, or both.” I say.
“Well yeah, but chromosome wise. Like, physically.” Rod says and produces a coin. A signal that the familiar guessing game is about to begin in earnest.
I look at Joaquin.
He’d been in the chamber with me. As the head doctor counted down, he’d taken my trembling hand in his and said they should’ve put a DJ, or someone like that in charge, you know, considering the nature of the artefact.
He hadn't taken his eyes off the speakers. And I didn’t take my eyes off him. He grew a little taller, a little pudgier. His face and groin changed. I felt something twist in my belly and blacked out.
Joaquin takes my hand in his. Rod absentmindedly tosses his coin towards the statue then retrieves it from behind my ear. Xavier cuts a slice of cake. I think they will be good fathers.
Answered Prayers: A Spellbinder Universe Tale
By Ragtime Rachel
By Jenny North
THE MIXED TAPE INTERVIEW: JENNY NORTH
Saint Patrick's Day
Sometimes I Hate This Job
Talk To Me
They do it Because They’re Driven: A look at the filmography of the Wachowski siblings
(Edited by PersnicketyBitch)
A Spellbinder Universe Tale
Tiny little droplets, trickled down my cheek and I stared up at the statue of the goddess begging her to answer my prayers. If the Aesir were so powerful why wouldn't they grant my simple appeal? I would think she, of all the gods, would be the most sympathetic to my plight, but I guess the worries of a simple mortal like myself were beneath her notice.
I stood and pulled my hood up over my face, glancing around the temple and shook my head. Her shrine was unlike that of any other god or goddess, there were no priests, priestesses or even an attendant in sight. Other than a simple altar and a towering statue with her likeness the room was empty, but even as I looked around I couldn't escape the feeling that I was not alone. Was it the presence of the divine that I sensed or was it merely a product of my imagination?
I shook my head and moved for the open archway which led back out into the city, but before I could I felt a hand on my shoulder. My heart was racing as I slowly turned to meet the gaze of the smiling figure. The statue didn't do her justice, her soft features were framed with long auburn tresses and one look at her body was enough to make me weak in the knees. She was perfect in every sense of the word, and I doubted that anyone, man or woman, could find fault with her voluptuous form.
"Do you know who I am?" she asked her hand reaching up to touch my cheek.
A simple nod was all I could muster, but it seemed to be enough for her. She backed away, then shook her head and placed her hands on her hips. It seemed so strange, but there was something very... human about her posture. Everyone knew her story and how she had been born to a human mother, but somehow I expected that she would have shed her humanity. To see that it was still very much intact seemed so... odd.
She shook her head and turned her back to me. "Prayers are... still a little weird for me. So, forgive me for taking so long. I-I'll gladly help you, but you do realize that once it's done, it will be permanent. It's a big change, I know, so if you don't think--"
"NO!" I screamed, then ran a hand through my hair and grimaced. "Please, you can't come all this way just to tell me no."
"I didn't intend to." She spun back around and smiled.
It happened so quickly that I don't think I was fully prepared for it. Whirling bursts of energy flew out from her fingertips. The brightest light filled my vision, and when it cleared again, the goddess was gone. I looked down at my now flat chest and smiled, finally my prayers had been answered.
D.A.W. is a fan of science-fiction and fantasy who brings his love of the genres to TG fiction. He is the author of "Facades" and the "Ragnarok Rising Trilogy" ("Incompatible: Birth of a Spellbinder", "Transfigured: Ascension of a Spellbinder" and "Destiny: Legacy of a Spellbinder"). He has contributed to several shared universes including Enemyoffun's DarkRealms Universe ("Hunger Pangs") and Morpheus' Twisted Universe ("Virtually Twisted").
Many a tear has to fall,
But it’s all in the game….
Jenny DeNapoli—“Nurse Jenny” to everyone on the ward—smiled as the tone arm moved along the record grooves. “Much better,” she said as she readied herself for the evening shift.
“Good luck with bed 13. The little demon’s at it again,” said Ilse, the day nurse, dabbing disinfectant on a still-fresh set of bite marks.
Nurse Jenny sighed. She’d come so far with Emma, and now….
As Ilse’s footsteps faded in the distance, Nurse Jenny relaxed, amused that Ilse had her almost standing at attention.
Nurse Jenny approached bed 13 ready to scold her young charge, but the urge dissipated as soon as she saw the restraints binding Emma’s wrists and ankles. She wasted no time in freeing the child.
“Hey, sweet pea….” Nurse Jenny stroked the child’s cheek. Nothing.
“OK, what’s wrong?” Nurse Jenny grabbed Emma’s spelling board and walked around the other side of the hospital crib. “Are you in pain?”
Emma’s wavering right hand tapped the word “NO.”
“Where’s Annie?” Nurse Jenny asked, as much to herself as to the child.
Emma’s tears said everything.
Nurse Jenny sighed.
“Never mind, sweetie. I know.” The young nurse cursed under her breath, remembering how long it took to sew the straps so Emma could grasp the doll.
“I’ll talk to Nurse Ilse, I promise. Now be a good girl and hold still for me, OK?” Nurse Jenny said as she removed the child’s gray institutional gown. “I have a surprise for you, birthday girl.” She reached into her bag, retrieving something pink.
Emma flapped her hands in approval, so fast she seemed ready to take off.
“Shhh…calm down, honey,” Nurse Jenny chided her. “I can’t get this on you if you don’t hold still.”
She rubbed her hands through the child’s close-cropped hair. “We’ll have to do something about this too, won’t we?”
Producing a ribbon from her purse, Jenny proceeded to tie it around Emma’s head. Opening her compact mirror, she let Emma inspect the result. “See? There’s my pretty girl! Now we can have our own tea party….”
“What are you doing?”
Oh, God. Ilse.
“I can explain….” Jenny began.
Ilse silenced her. “I highly doubt it. Go!”
“I was only trying to make her happy.”
“’Her?’ Ilse raised one eyebrow.
“Yes, her. She’s a little girl, regardless of what you might think!”
“You’re delusional! Leave, now! ”
Jenny left, knowing this time she’d lost.
As Ilse removed the dress and bow, Emma lunged, determined to give Ilse a matching set of marks.
But Ilse was ready. Grabbing the child’s thin arms, she pulled the restraints tight, pinning the child on her back.
The last thing Emma—known in the records as “Edward”--saw was the pillow covering her face.
Ilse dryly noted the time of death, remarking, “Just like in Germany. We knew how to deal with cripples—and queers.”
The music stopped as she walked away.
Rachel has been around longer than you might think, publishing her first story (the SRU tale “A Box Full of Dreams” as far back as 1999.
Rachel has this to say about her writing: "My TG fiction protagonists are young, usually child to early teen range, because they represent the child I wish I could have been--one who could freely live as her true gender at a very young age. Many are also disabled as well, a subject area not usually covered in TG fiction. I do this because I myself am disabled, having had cerebral palsy from birth, and I take the adage "Write what you know" to heart."
“I just don’t get why you’re so spacey,” John said.
I shrugged. How was I supposed to know that chick was hitting on me last night? She was totally out of my league, and I’m a pretty approachable guy. I'd figured she was honestly looking for help with her dress.
“Just wasn’t thinking about it,” I said. “Besides, I wasn’t gonna abandon you at the bar like that.”
“Dude, stop making excuses,” John rolled his eyes. “You’d cheer me on if I went home with a babe like that, and I’d do the same for you. You gotta stop being so damn clueless about everything around you.”
I leaned back in my chair. “I’ll do better tonight. I guarantee I’ll notice anyone who hits on me.”
John was nodding in agreement when he... changed. His outfit went from a t-shirt and jeans to a tight dress. His body slimmed, contracting in some places and expanding in others, filling that dress out in all the right places. His hair grew long and thick, and when his (her?) head bobbed back up I saw an undeniably hot, female face.
“What the fuck?” I shouted, eyes wide. “John? Holy shit, you okay?”
John stared at me, confused. It took me a moment to realize she was looking at me like I was insane, not like she was trying to process what had just occurred.
“Who’s John?” The girl’s confusion disappeared, replaced by a mischievous smile. "Wait, did you go back out for a second chance at that hunk? Did you bring him back? I promise I won’t be mad, but I wanna hear how you hid him from me.”
Seriously? He’d just become a she, but was only concerned about whether I brought that guy home last night?
“What? No, you’re John.” The weirdness of the situation was making me physically uncomfortable, like I wasn’t sitting properly. I adjusted and crossed my legs. “You’re my best friend. A dude. And dudes don’t just turn into chicks.”
“Are you messing with me or something? It’s not very funny. Like, I know you’re kind of ditzy, but this is ridiculous.” She shook her head. “Ugh, whatever. Are we going out or what?”
I was defeated. There was no stopping John, or whoever she was now, when they wanted to go out drinking. I’d have to convince her about the transformation once we got there.
“Whatever. Just give me a minute, okay? My hair’s a mess, I don’t have any makeup on, and there’s no way I’m leaving without a bra.” I looked down at my exposed cleavage. “This top is obscene enough without the girls bouncing around.”
Sighing, I teased a few curly blonde locks out of my face. Maybe she'd believe me if I proved I wasn't oblivious. I may have missed that cutie last night, but now I was ready for any man that tried to catch my eye at the bar…
There's an urban legend that claims transgender stories spring fully formed out of the the ether, signed only as "Maredsous." They currently tend to be sex focused, but rumors on the wind speak of thoughtful, character-based tales in the near-ish future. Dare you seek these mysterious texts?
On a dusty shelf you notice a lone book that catches your eye. You pick it up and brush away the cobwebs to see that it's a girl's diary, but as you thumb through the pages it isn't at all what you expect. The entries don't read like the private thoughts of a young girl, but rather like the angry vindictive rantings of an adult, furious at the world. Other entries seem hopeless, almost like suicide notes. And each page is written in a different handwriting.
You flip to the last entry in the book, written in a feminine script:
I am so sorry.
I don't know what else to say. I haven't done anything wrong, I've committed no crime, I've tried to lead a good life. So it feels strange to apologize for something I haven't even done yet. But I know beyond doubt that when my time comes, I will commit the same unspeakable crime that was perpetrated upon me. Because the alternative, to be cut off from everyone and trapped forever in a formless existence, is about the worst kind of hell I can imagine.
I wonder what kind of person you are. If you're a sinner or a saint, a man or a woman. But it won't matter, just like it didn't matter to the person who came before me. I know what awaits me, trapped in a living purgatory of solitary confinement. And to my shame, I know that I will take you, just as I was taken. I pray someday you may forgive me.
As you may ask forgiveness from the one that follows you.
You try to look up to ponder its meaning, but to your horror, your eyes stay fixed on the page as you are struck by a paralysis...unable to move, unable to breathe. You feel your panic rising as you struggle against your body, trying desperately to command it to do something. Then you feel a surge of relief as you take a long, slow breath. Then another.
Except you're not the one in control.
Reduced to being a passive observer in your own body, you feel as you touch your chest, following its rise and fall with every breath, feeling your beating heart.
You try to scream, but you are unable.
Suddenly your perspective changes and you're now looking up at yourself, but from an angle you've never seen in any mirror. You want to move, to yell, to act, but you are only a formless spirit in a void, trapped within the pages of the girl's diary, looking helplessly up at your body.
Your former face looks down at you remorsefully. "I truly am sorry," you hear the thief say, fluttering your eyes and tilting your head in an effeminate gesture. You watch your hand pick up a pen.
"Before I leave, I have to write a new entry in the diary. What would you like it to say?"
Jenny North was bitten by the writing bug in late 2013 to turn her stockpile of crazy story ideas into actual stories, which she lately posts on Fictionmania. She enjoys writing engaging characters, plot twists, whimsy, and the occasional bimbo. She's very proud of her multilayered "Broken Echo" story, and suspects that "Mockumentary" hasn't found its audience yet. She's also enjoying speaking about herself in the third person.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I've been involved in the TG community in various ways over the years. Some people may remember me from my TGFA web site which I created in the mid-90s to share some excerpts from various TG media. (Mainly comics, since I'm a comic book geek.) But I got away from that when I started delving into my TG side in real life, going out quite often as Jenny and supporting my local TG support groups. Then several years ago I got into cosplay, which has been great fun. And recently I was bitten with the writing bug and have been posting TG stories again. I wish I had time for all my interests!
You cosplay, can you tell us a bit about that?
I got into it quite by accident! The old "City of Heroes" online game had a Halloween contest to dress as your character in real life, and I pranked my friends (who didn't know about Jenny) by entering without telling them, figuring they'd recognize my character when the pictures got posted. Their reaction was PRICELESS. I won "Most Daring" which got me some pretty neat prizes, and even got my character into the comic book! (Fulfilling a lifelong dream of being in a comic!)
(Jenny’s Halloween Costume)
From there, it took off. I've done over 30 different costumes...Cheetara, Jem, SheZow, Bugs Bunny (from "What's Opera Doc?"), even Mantra. I love all the the creativity, and wearing them to conventions is just awesome, especially when I rope my friends into it! I've posted pics on Flickr if people are curious. (And there you can also learn my "secret identity," though in truth it's hardly a secret.)
What are some good resources and hints for anyone looking to get into the scene?
Sites like Cosplay.com have great online communities, but just going to a convention is a great introduction. Many have cosplay discussions, and most cosplayers are happy to talk about their costumes! But if you're looking to make your own costume, I'd say you need perseverance when making it, and attitude when wearing it! You have to be willing to put yourself out there, but in my experience the cons tend to be very welcoming since they're geek-friendly. And if you're doing crossdressing cosplay ("crossplay"), appreciate that you're more likely to get read because you're often getting more scrutiny...but I've never had a hassle. (Though while dressed as a pregnant Scarlet Witch last year, I did have one woman ask when my baby was due!) But I think most importantly, dress as a character you love.
What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received?
Growth is the single most important thing for a sympathetic character. Things don't feel real if the story moves forward but the hero hasn't changed.
I also like what I've heard referred to as the "rule of three": when describing a person, place, or thing, use at least three different elements, of which one or two should be non-visual. I've found that especially useful when describing a transformation, since involving more of the senses makes it more immersive.
What books have influenced you most as a writer?
I enjoy Peter David's work, which includes many comic books, the Star Trek: New Frontier series, and a whole bunch of other things. He tells a good story and I really like how he weaves humor into it, but I've often been impressed by his ability to take two dangling threads that you didn't even realize were dangling (often written by different authors), and then weave them together in a way that makes you think that had been the plan all along. It doesn't detract from your enjoyment of the story if you don't get the references, but if you do, it's like a magic trick!
You've been writing for a while, your first story was published in 1999, but you've only recently begun to share stories on a regular basis, why is this?
For years I've kept tons of notes and ideas, and I guess it finally bubbled over! It's a great creative outlet (when I'm not working on costumes) but was kinda born out of frustration, having read so many TG stories over the years. I'd read a new story and think, "Rats, another revenge plot. I’d love to see a different take where a victim isn't a pushover but doesn't feel the need to seek retribution." Then I'd wonder how to end a story like that in a satisfying way, and soon found myself writing it because I wanted to know how the story would go! And it's great to be able to give something back.
How do you think you've changed as a writer over the years?
My real-life TG experiences have been a great source of inspiration, certainly. And I also feel like I'm being more intentional about looking for ways to challenge myself. When choosing a story to write (or a costume to make), I tend to gravitate to things I haven't seen done before, or putting a new twist on something familiar. (My friends are used to me asking, "Hey, is this idea brilliant or idiotic? I'm not sure.") I'm actually kind of jealous of writers who've found their niche since I feel like I'm kind of random: a story about a guy forced to become transgender in his mind; a sex-and-humor-filled humiliation conga; a fanciful adventure with TG meta-commentary; a documentary of a crazy publicity stunt gone wrong...I guess I can provide novelty, if not consistency!
Tell us a bit about your story Broken Echo.
[Archivist's note: You can read Broken Echo here]
There's a saying I like: "Talent imitates, genius steals." A friend and I were talking about the novel Cloud Atlas, and we were impressed by David Mitchell's ability to weave together six stories spanning different time periods, and write each story with a different stylistic feel that was appropriate to the time period. So since I wanted to try my hand at writing different genres, it seemed like a great opportunity to snitch the concept and do a TG story in that same style, but instead of just spanning time periods, to mix in the traditional TG story elements like magic, femdom, transformation, and crossdressing.
Of course, I knew I was in deep with the story when I had to create an infographic to keep it all straight! I made sure that the story could be enjoyed even if all of the interconnections, repeated lines, foreshadowing, and the like escaped the reader's notice, but I think the hidden complexity made for a more layered story. And it was fun pulling out all the tropes and using them in new ways. Like a fantasy adventure (complete with a prophetic riddle) in there with a romantic comedy and even a bit of campy horror. And--because it's me--ramping up the meta commentary along the way.
In the story you examine many of the tropes of magical transformation and forced-femme fiction. As a trans person how do your experiences inform the conclusions that you reach, and your work in general?
I'm quite proud of being trans, so for me, I love to show that there can be many good things that come with the territory. And although TG stories take transformation literally, it's also a powerful metaphor...the experience changes a person, for good or for ill. It challenges them, and facing (and hopefully overcoming) challenges is what it's all about to me.
Now given what I just said this may sound funny to say, but I also love writing humiliation into some of my stories, because it highlights how much perspective matters. (For instance, I love to crossplay and go out in public, but another person might find that same experience to be absolutely mortifying!) And I think many M2F stories with humiliation are predicated on the idea that it's shameful to be a woman, or shameful to be trans. I personally don't agree with that, but sometimes the characters have to go through the journey to come to the same conclusion...so what was humiliating at first might be enjoyable later, assuming they're growing and changing their perspective.
Any final thoughts?
Well, first, many thanks to PersnicketyBitch for putting together these monthly anthologies! They're entertaining to read, and it's amazing to be able to collaborate with so many fun and talented writers!
And one last bit of wisdom I've learned is to be honest with yourself why you're writing, and also why you post what you write. For me, many of my stories are experimental (*cough* Mockumentary *cough*), so I know from the start that means they're not all going to be huge hits or get tons of comments, but if I get just one comment from a person who really "gets it," I'm delighted. (And then there are some stories I write that I may never post!) But I figure if you write what you love, you'll always have something to read!
I never see their faces. There are no mirrors here.
I come to in the transfer vat. Eyes that are not my eyes snap open. I gasp, gulp and then violently exhale ensorcelled perfluorocarbon mix.
Today’s John has long hair. I see lazily waving strands at the edge of my vision. My restraints unclasp and I kick off, and when I break the surface feel it plastered to against my face, my neck.
The towels here are 30”-60” inches. I figure the John at 5 foot 6. I drop the plush blue terrycloth onto the floor and shuffle my feet dry on it. I feel my face. The John has a hooked nose, a breakout on his left cheek.
He’s slim and sinewy. Mario and Peach by way of Frazetta on his right forearm. A grower. Not a bad chub once he gets going. Average erection. (You always peg out after transfer.) Probably a size queen, but maybe I’m being disingenuous. Still, there’s a type.
The suite is open plan and windowless. There’s a kitchenette and a home theatre setup which you can watch from either a treadmill or a couch. And white everywhere you look. White shelves stocked with copies of AVN Magazine and all of Astral Projects’ productions. White walls. White floor. White ceiling. White doors locked from the outside.
The sets are more ornate. And there’s a selection of costumes, not just scrubs. Niko usually places me in The Gym or The Ranch when I’m on the clock. But after hours I prefer The Manor House or The Sorority.
To kill the time before switchback, I start by watching Changeroom IV. For all the technomancy involved behind the scenes, most of Astral Projects’ films are real scrappy. To make a porn shoot anywhere near fun for an outsider a lot of corners have to be cut. The star swaps and pro/amateur vids are the only ones that get views.
In her VO the Jane who’s wearing my body says her name is Sadie. She’s twenty-eight and a flight attendant. Maybe that’s true, maybe it isn’t. She uses words like shlong, and wiener. My body’s hips gyrate crazily. She giggles as she describes what it’s like to flip flop. Opposite her is a John in Xiaolian’s body. His favourite shows are Kill La Kill and Attack on Titan. He fakes an orgasm any time anything – fingers, vibrators, dildos, but not my borrowed penis; no penetration allowed – touches Xiaolian’s clit.
Who is she? I wonder as I masturbate. Who is Everly, happily married, two kids? Who is Jeremy, lyricist, in-between bands? Who is Caleb, intern at ILM? The woman with birthmark shaped like Antarctica on her hip? The young man with the outie and the vasectomy scars? Who are these people behind their breasts – full, round, drooping, pert, small and conical – or hairy chests, hairless chests, beer guts or pigeon chests, and the build and release of their orgasms, each, if examined closely, as unique as a fingerprint?
PersnicketyBitch is the creator of the Mixed Tape Anthologies. She is Australian, but don't hold that against her. If you do she will sic her pet drop bear on you.
I stumbled out of the bar and puked all over the alleyway. When I was done, I brought the bottle back up to my mouth and chugged some more Heineken down. My eighth bottle of the night, I was doing good.
I heard a noise from the other end of the alley, or three feet away, I couldn't really tell, I was outrageously drunk. I looked in what I assumed to be the direction of the sound and saw a woman standing there. Long hair, slim figure, nice tits.
“Hey, baby,” I slurred, then dropped the bottle.
She was suddenly beside me, I think. “Ooh, snookums,” she said, running a finger under my chin, “you look all kinds of bad, sweetie.”
I took a step toward her, and almost fell. “Take me back to your place, and I'll feel like a million bucks, babe.”
She smiled – I think – and whispered, “Oh, you'll feel different, alright.”
I tried to smile, then threw up all over herrack. She just looked annoyed. After that, my face hit the ground, and everything went black.
I woke up in a room, tied to a bed. Ooh, she liked it kinky. I looked at my hands and saw the bright purple nail polish that someone had put on me. What the hell? I leaned up as much as possible and took a look around the room.
The door opened, and she walked in, smiling. “Oh, good, you're awake, Sugar.”
I tried to play it cool. “Hey, honey, how about we get this started? I'm eager to find out how good your tongue feels – ” and then I said the weirdest thing possible, “ – in my pussy.” I would have smacked myself on the head for that, if I could move my hands. Why had I said that?
That smile grew wider “It's about damn time you started coming around, Sugar.”
I felt something... Something creeping up my body. It was kind of pleasant from my feet and up my legs, but as it hit my crotch, it started to burn. I screamed, but it was more like a screech. It wasn't long before it turned into a horny moan, and then I heard my voice shouting, “Fuck me!”
The sensation moved from my pussy – my what? – and made it to my chest. It wasn't painful anymore, though, it was extremely pleasurable. That horny moan returned, and I came just as the feeling moved from my boobies to my head. What was...
I woke up in a room, tied to a bed. Oh, God, I loved it kinky. I looked at my hands, saw the bright purple nail polish I had put on last night and smiled. I leaned up to look over my boobies at the other woman in the room. “Hey, Ruby, get over here and eat me out. And don't worry, I dyed my bush green. It's Saint Patrick's Day, after all!”
Hikaro has been reading transgender stories for some years now, but only broke into the writing business in late 2011, when he posted his first story to TG Storytime. Since then, he's garnered critical acclaim (in his own mind) with stories like "A First-Person Account" and "Brave New World". An odd sort of man, he likes to claim he has drinks with Elvis on the Titanic during the weekends.
I tried to gather my thoughts as I pushed the doorbell. My uniformed colleague tapped my arm and pointed to the moving shape approaching us through the ripple glass in the front door.
“Mrs Smith?” I asked flashing my warrant card, my uniformed colleague nodded to her.
“What’s happened—it’s Sam, isn’t it? Oh my God, what’s happened?” We followed her into the house. I asked her to sit down, did she have anyone we could call for her? She was weeping buckets and I hadn’t broken the news yet, other than to nod at her question regarding her son.
“What happened?” she asked her hands gripping each other the fingers were white.
“It looks very much as if he took his own life.”
“Did he suffer?”
“I hope not, he used his car exhaust.” I paused to let this information sink in. “He left a note.”
“Do you have it?”
“The coroner will have the original until the inquest, you can request it afterwards.”
“Why can’t I have it now?”
“It’s evidence, I’m afraid. I’ve brought you a photocopy.” I handed her the paper but she asked me to read it to her.
I’m sorry about this but I can’t go on any longer pretending to be something I’m not. I’ll never be able to be who or what I want to be, not to experience fully the life I want, so I’m pulling the plug on this one.
Please don’t be upset, just think I’m out of my suffering by the time you read this and for the few minutes before I go, I shall be who I wanted to be—in my mind anyway.
Good bye, I love you, Mum.
Your loving daughter,
“What does that mean?” she asked me.
“He was wearing a wedding gown when they found him.”
“A dress, he was wearing a wedding dress?”
“Yes, apparently he looked really nice.”
“He wanted to be a woman?”
“I wish he’d told me.”
“I’ll let him be buried in the dress if that’s okay, if it’s not too soiled.”
“It’s not, he had on a pair of Tena Lady pants, presumably to keep it clean. I’m sure he’d appreciate being buried in it.”
“Why did he have to do this—surely they can make men into women these days can’t they?”
“So I believe, I don’t know why he did it but he hints that he wouldn’t be as pretty or convincing as he’d have liked.”
“He was a bit tall, I suppose...silly boy, I’m his mother, I’d still have loved him.”
“Her, you’d still have loved her,” I gently corrected.
“Isn’t that what I said? Sorry, sorry Samantha.” She began to cry again and my colleague went to get her neighbour.
“At least there were no kids involved this time,” said my colleague as we returned to our car.
“Just that poor woman’s daughter,” I said and drove us back to the office.
Angharad is the creator of Easy As Falling Off A Bike, which she believes is the world’s longest story involving transgender characters. She has also written several other serials, many short stories and one full length novel, Snafu. Angharad’s fiction explores many aspects of gender identity and its ramifications and crosses several genres from comic to action adventure. You can find it at Big Closet, Sapphires Place and maddybell.com.
She just wanted her life to be easy. So, why was it that she found herself facing this person again? It felt as if their lives had been hopelessly intertwined. It was like no matter what she did, she eventually ran into him again. She refused to believe in fate. She had decided long ago to walk to the beat of her own drum, make her own choices. But here they were once again. Why did she keep doing this to herself?
The table created a division between the two, marked with scratches that had begun to make some of the previous coat of paint peel off. It was due for a makeover. By the looks of the man opposite of her, he could use a little of the same. He looked worn. The kind of worn only life could do to a man, cheeks covered by a light stubble and eyes too old for his face.
For a short while, they just stared at one another, almost as if daring the other to break eye contact. When he didn’t, she sighed quietly and spoke up, instead breaking the silence.
"So here we are again. It must be some kind of record. A broken record." She said, still looking him straight in the eyes, his as unflinching as her own.
It didn’t surprise her when he didn’t have much to say. Nothing new, at least. She had heard it all before. She had even said some of it herself, at times. It was an old tale, reused and abused, threadbare to the point where one could see straight through it. He wanted another chance. Excuses, as always. There had not been a good time. What would the others think? Maybe tomorrow, or next week, would be better? If only.
When it was her turn, she spoke her mind clearly. There was no place for him in her heart anymore. Nor in her mind. This was the only way. To do otherwise would just be to return to the dark times. He was an anchor weighing her down. The dream he was holding onto was her nightmare.
When she had said all she wanted, all she needed, she closed her eyes for just a moment. It had felt good to say it out loud, even if it had only been to him. Maybe now he would finally get it. Maybe now she wouldn’t have to see him anymore. Maybe now she could finally leave him behind forever.
She pushed her chair back and stood up, leaving the vanity mirror by itself.
Melange is possibly a collective of like-minded raccoons who occasionally write stories both long and short, or delve into poetry. Her most ambitious undertaking so far is her “Horizons of the Heart” series, spanning two books, and coming to terms with how building her own fantasy world setting is actually a lot of work. She has a lot of dreams, and a lot of ideas for stories, but sometimes it takes more time than anticipated to turn them into proper words.
There’s a lot to admire about Speed Racer (2008). It’s audacious, bold and utterly bonkers, endlessly inventive, and a deeply heartfelt, soul-bearing artistic mission statement from its creators, Andy and Lana Wachowski.
It’s also a difficult movie to actually enjoy.
Over the years many filmmakers have attempted to translate comic-book imagery to screen, the most successful so far being Edgar Wright with Scott Pilgrim vs the World (2010). But prior to Speed Racer (yes, I know it’s an adaptation of a cartoon; however in this case the same principles apply), the gold standards w/r/t fidelity to comic book aesthetics were Zack Snyder’s 300 (2007) and Robert Rodriguez’s Sin City (2005). Both movies are astonishing to look at, but often visually inert, frequently lingering on static compositions lifted directly from their respective sources.
Unlike Snyder and Rodriguez, Wright and the Wachowskis not only have a great affinity for the iconography of their material, but also a keen interest in replicating the experience that every reader hopes for when they open a comic. Scott Pilgrim succeeds because of Wright’s unerring sense of how the modern moviegoer processes visual information. The Wachowskis are extraordinary visual storytellers (I put off writing this article several times to rewatch Morpheus’ rescue from The Matrix – that lobby scene! – and the highway chase from Reloaded) but with Speed Racer they overestimated the audience’s capacity to keep up with them, and the result is a film that many will perceive as an eyesore and disregard.
Which is a shame. The Wachowskis are two of the most exciting voices working in the modern blockbuster scene. When they fail, the do so in memorable ways, and not for want of ambition. Their most recent film, Jupiter Ascending (2015) is unquestionably a bad movie, but it’s a handsome production – a gorgeous love letter to the golden age of hand-drawn sci-fi/fantasy cover art – and it has a lot of interesting stuff going on regarding the psychological makeup of its villains. The much maligned Matrix sequels may be many things but no one can say that don’t ooze style or deny the enormous risks their creators’ took with their story (or, for that matter, convince me that they aren’t absolutely fucking fantastic, if flawed, movies).
The Wachowskis filmography is destined to become an important chapter in the history of queer cinema. Their first film, the slick low-budget erotic thriller Bound (1996), is an escapist piece written and directed for an audience who share its heroines’ sexuality. While Bound isn’t entirely true to the experiences of real life female couples, it aspires to be an accurate representation of fantasies that lesbian and bisexual women might conceivably have (which are not – surprise, surprise – the same as the fantasies heterosexual men have about lesbians and bisexual women that inform almost every mainstream depiction of non-heterosexual female sexuality).
The Matrix trilogy (1999 – 2003) posits a future where gay and lesbian relationships are normal and accepted. In an early draft of the first film the character Switch (the member of Morpheus’ crew who wears white) had a different gender in the virtual world. Lana Wachowski came out as trans to her friends, family and colleges during the back-to-back filming of Reloaded and Revolutions.
The Wachowskis didn’t direct V for Vendetta (2006), but they did write the screenplay, and by all accounts were very hands on producers. It’s a touchstone movie for the generation of kids who entered adolescence after 9/11, playing a pivotal role in their political awakening, and encouraging them to give a damn about LGBT issues (Revisiting the film, I was struck by how invested it is in its gay and lesbian characters). However, V for Vendetta’s legacy isn’t entirely positive, especially online, with sites like 4chan, and other virtual clubhouses for angry young men, appropriating it’s iconography to frame their toxic cultures and the assholeish actions of their members as heroic. For good and ill the Wachowskis' interpretation of Alan Moore’s graphic novel is a movie that resonated, and arguably the pair’s most culturally significant work.
Directors are often highly visible figures in the filmmaking process, not so Andy and Lana. Since the The Matrix turned them into household names, up until the release of Cloud Atlas (Co-directed by Tom Tykwer, based on the David Mitchell novel)in 2012, the pair refused to be interviewed and to appear publicly. Rumours abounded regarding Lana’s transition, and were, at her request, denied by the actors, crew and producers who were asked to verify them. It’s easy read the penultimate scene of Speed Racer as a reflection on this decision.
Speed Racer is a movie about staying true to the creative self in a commercial space. This theme is expressed beautifully during the final moments of the film’s final race, where a series of brief cutaways and flashbacks revisit its most salient ideas as its titular hero floors it and the neon rainbow colour pallet blurs and streaks, until at points it seems as if Speed is driving into the Stargate from 2001. “It doesn't matter if racing never changes. What matters is if we let racing change us,” intones the voice of the enigmatic Racer X, as the film cuts to a childhood daydream, before returning to the present where the now adult Speed is living that fantasy; a juxtaposition that the viewer can’t help but feel encapsulates the struggles and triumphs of the artists behind it.
Speed wins the race. The crowd goes wild. Meanwhile, in an emptying corporate suite, Racer X watches as they flood the track. His boss, Inspector Detector, a division head in Speed Racer’s CIA proxy, asks him if he’d like to join Speed and his family to celebrate. Racer X declines and Detector asks him why he hasn’t told them the truth. A flashback follows revealing X to be Speed’s older brother, who we discover faked his own death and underwent extensive surgery to reinvent himself. X agonises over this question, and decides that he has to live with choice he has made. The film concludes with Speed and his family, triumphant, adored, accepting Speed’s trophy.
Since the release of Speed Racer, the Wachowskis have ceased to avoid the spotlight. When Cloud Atlas premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival they walked the red carpet alongside their formidable ensemble cast. When the movie received a 10 minute standing ovation they were there to bask in it.
You can watch Lana talk about coming out and her struggle with gender dysphoria in her acceptance speech for the Human Rights Campaign’s Visibility Award: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=crHHycz7T_c
Later this year Andy and Lana Wachowski will make the jump from the big to the small screen with Sense8, a science fiction series that true to form sounds audacious, inventive and just a bit bonkers.
In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or “sleeve”) making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen.
Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning. . . .
Part the first: So should I read this book?
In Altered Carbon Richard K Morgan recreates on paper the brand of amped up violence, propulsive storytelling, and, yes, smarts of the top tier actioners of the 80’s and 90’s. The “About the Author” blurb in my copy of Altered Carbon doesn’t have a lot to say about its subject, it does however inform the reader that Joel Silver, the producer of Predator, Lethal Weapon, Die Hard and The Matrix, has purchased the rights. Altered Carbon is a book that lends itself easily to a simple “if you... then you…” review. If you don’t think Altered Carbon sounds like your sort of thing, then you’re almost certainly correct. If you silently “fuck yeah’d” to any of the movies mentioned so far (and indulge me this brief interruption where I also title drop The Terminator, Robocop and Total Recall), I assure you, Altered Carbon is the absolute motherfucking shit, and you’re going to love it.
Part the second: Missed opportunities
I imagine that some readers of these collections will be left wanting more from the body hopping in Altered Carbon. The novel could stand to be a bit more varied w/r/t the sleeves it’s protagonists finds himself in, especially considering how go-for-broke it is in every other area. It feels thematically inappropriate that certain characters aren’t switching gender, body type, and body age on a regular basis. However, a sex scene between two psychically linked characters is sure to please anyone who reads this sort of fiction for the smut.
While Morgan has clearly put a lot of thought into the mechanics of the resleeving process, he does throw a few “biological truths” that smack of bullshit in to the mix. These might rub some the wrong way, but I think most of them work in the context of the “what-if” science-y sounding non-science that Morgan’s builds his story around (let’s be honest, the speculative elements of most speculative fiction are bullshit; we read the genre for it’s interesting half-truths and lies). Most of them. Not all. Altered Carbon’s one instance of on-page gender bending takes place during a torture scene, and the explanation for it, which partially hinges on the “fact” that men and women experience pain differently, is contrived entirely for shock value.
Part the third: Altered Carbon is not transgender fiction, and what we should take away from that.
There are no trans characters in Altered Carbon. Nor does the novel incorporate or comment on trans experiences in any meaningful way. Altered Carbon is a body swap story written by a cisgender man, about cis characters, and sold to a predominantly cis audience. This is OK. Body Swap stories are not inherently about or for any one group. However, it’s important to call a spade a spade. And it’s important to do that w/r/t the stories we read and write. Those of us that do write need to recognise that we are publishing work in spaces that purport to host stories about and/or by and for crossdressers, trans and non-binary individuals, and their allies, regardless of whether they actually do or not, and acknowledge this ideal reality in our work.
The author of Eat, Pray, Love talks about her latest novel, her work prior to her breakthrough book, and the week she spent in male drag researching a magazine article (a condom full of bird seed is involved).
Jenny North - Elizabeth Gilbert has some really insightful comments on writing and being an artist, and I found her observations on getting involved in the male culture and even impersonating a male really intriguing. It's fascinating to me how her F2M impersonation is in some ways just the opposite of a M2F impersonation (like the body language where she had to reduce her movements) but also how they're very much the same (like how you sometimes feel compelled to overshoot the mark a little to compensate for not having the physicality of a typical man or woman).
She also makes one observation that I think is particularly valuable for writers of TG fiction. In the interview she talks about her time spent in male drag, and how (contrary to what you might expect) that didn't make her feel stronger. As she says, "I lost all of my tools for managing the world." It wasn't just the physicality, but the sense of helplessness at not knowing what to do. I relate to this. When I first started going out as Jenny, I worried about presentation. There were a lot of things I hadn't considered, like the first time I was in line for the ladies' room and the woman in front of me struck up a conversation. At first I was like, "Ack! I'm not socialized for this!" But in my case, I'm an enthusiastic learner for feminine skills, because I chose to be there...but for a transformee in a story, that could be both insightful and unsettling!
I hope that you enjoyed this month’s TG Mixed Tape. Can you believe it’s been a year since the first one? (You probably can, it’s not that long really.)
When I created the first collection I wanted to put together the sort of resource that I wish had been around when I stumbled upon sites like this one. So many stories get published, it’s hard to know where to start reading. I conceived the tapes as a way of connecting readers with authors.
I’m a big believer in the question “what’s next.” I think it’s vital to the longevity of any ongoing creative project. You have to keep doing new things or your audience gets bored, or you do.
The author interviews were an obvious add. Like the anthology format it’s something we haven’t seen a lot of in our niche (as far as I can tell the only precedent is a series of Q&A’s moderated by Anne-Mal, way, way, way back in 2000/2001). And they suit the author showcase nature of the Tapes to a tee.
These collections are posted on sites whose content often skews fetishistic. I’m not knocking it, I enjoy reading and writing smut. There will always be a place for erotic stories in the Mixed Tapes. However, it’s also true that fetishes and their creative expression, such as during a role play session, or through writing, frequently involve problematic or outright regressive ideas about gender, sexuality, race, and just about everything else.
We can’t, as a rule, choose our kinks. There’s a compelling argument to be made that many common fetishes are the subconscious reacting to or appropriating aspects of everything that is problematic and regressive in the societies in which we live (for instance, theories like this hold that rape fantasies often emerge as a response to rape culture). But we can choose to express our fetishes in ways that explore and deconstruct their troubling aspects. Simply indulging is OK too, provided that you are doing so from a place of understanding, and are able to distinguish fantasy from reality.
I hope that the more realistic stories in these collections; the articles and essays; and the articles, books, movies, podcasts and websites listed in the recommended resources section, and the attached commentary, help you contextualise your fetishes and make you think about the type of stories you read and write, but most importantly switch you on (if you aren’t already) to the stories of trans people in the real world and the issues the affect them.
To any trans and non-binary people reading this: I wish you more than luck.
Submissions for April’s Mixed Tape are due on the 20th of that month. Publication will occur sometime between the 27th and 30th.
Guidelines for fiction submissions:
• Stories are to be no longer than 500 words. • Write what you want to write. • Stories are to be accompanied by a short About the Author or Also by This Author blurb. Write one of those too.
• Stories are to be no longer than 500 words.
• Write what you want to write.
• Stories are to be accompanied by a short About the Author or Also by This Author blurb. Write one of those too.
Guidelines for nonfiction submissions:
• Shoot for 1000 words. It doesn’t matter if you go a little over. • Possible topics include trans issues, sex and sexuality, cross-dressing tips and tricks, writing, and books, movies, TV shows and comics about or featuring Transgender characters. If you can make a case for anything else, you can write about that. • Regarding style: informal is fine, and preferred. These pieces shouldn’t be a chore to read. Write your chosen topic the same way you’d talk to a friend about it, or write about it in a blog, or in an effort-comment or forum post.
• Shoot for 1000 words. It doesn’t matter if you go a little over.
• Possible topics include trans issues, sex and sexuality, cross-dressing tips and tricks, writing, and books, movies, TV shows and comics about or featuring Transgender characters. If you can make a case for anything else, you can write about that.
• Regarding style: informal is fine, and preferred. These pieces shouldn’t be a chore to read. Write your chosen topic the same way you’d talk to a friend about it, or write about it in a blog, or in an effort-comment or forum post.
As a contributor you will be able to read and feedback other contributions as they come in. If at any point prior to publication you wish to withdraw your work, that’s OK.
The finished anthology will be published on Big Closet, TG Storytime and Fictionmania. Make sure you have accounts set up on all three sites (all are free to join). I want to get as many authors credited on each site as possible.
Email submissions to [email protected]
I’d like to leave you this month with some short reflections by myself and a several other regular contributors about our favourite Mixed Tape stories.
Birthday Girl by Lyodor Tolstoyevski (published in Exchange the Experience)
Birthday Girl looks like it’s building to a bittersweet denouement, then concludes with a gut-punch. LT does an excellent job conveying just how unfair it can feel to be different in this dark, nasty, yet ultimately hopeful piece. ~ PersnicketyBitch
The Bloody Faithful By Jennifer Ravyn (Published in Irresistible, Kissable)
I like the mix of intrigue, danger, and mystery. How did the main character become Faith? Why did Faith swap and give up her immortal life? Will the new Faith succeed and escape Lucas? Ms. Ravyn has managed to pack a very short story full of interesting characters and a rocking plot that made me want to either read more or write the rest of the story myself! ~ Zapper
Family by BobH (Published in Its Strange but it’s True)
BobH does a masterful job of setting up this SciFi story about the end of the world. It felt like the young couple escaping back into time had to go in one direction. However, BobH's clever twist was one I didn't see coming and left me chuckling. Very well written and like most of BobH's stuff worth reading. ~ Zapper
Farm Visit by Dorothy Colleen (published in Irresistable, Kissable)
This is not a story about being transgender. It’s a story about being a person. About going through something that everyone goes through at some point in their life. But, by chance, the narrator does happen to be transgender. And that aspect is used to add a wonderful depth to the character. ~ Lyodor Tolstoyevski
Future Ghosts by Nicki Benson (Published in Exchange the Experience)
In Future Ghosts Nicki strips down her prose to the point that “spare” is almost an inadequate descriptor. The result is a profoundly evocative piece that demonstrates the potential of the flash fiction format better than any other Mixed Tape story. ~ PersnicketyBitch
Melissa by D.A.W (Published in Anything Goes, Don't Blink)
This story is light and funny kind of like a good piece of candy. I loved the simple straight forward approach that sets the reader up for the about face right before the end. In the end it's a wish gone wrong story, but it's handled so well that it’s one of my favorites. ~ Zapper
Can’t Stop the Music by Jenny North (Published in Don’t Make Me Wild like You)
A funny little tale that really managed to set itself apart from the majority of TG fiction out there. It’s a tribute to Jenny’s talent as an author, that I enjoyed the tale despite the fact that I typically avoid crossdressing tales. The whole thing reads like a news article, but has a bit of a fun and sassy feel to it. ~ D.A.W.
Hatching by Zapper (Published in Anything Goes, Don’t Blink)
A classic fantasy tale involving dragons and a slave boy at the very bottom of society’s ladder. He managed to really pack a lot into this little yarn and I think it helps bring a bit of awe and wonder to the piece. ~ D.A.W.
Sweet Surrender by Minikisa (Published in Du Bist Sehr Schön)
To my mind this is the sexiest story that has been submitted to these collections so far. As always, Minikisa’s style is deceptively simple and straightforward. I wish I could infuse my writing with half the rhythm that she does. ~ PersnicketyBitch
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