The first issue of TQ Review defines itself as “a journal of trans and queer voices.” These are authors speaking from their experiences and divulging their fears. The authors don’t share victim stories or stories of triumph, but everything in between. These are the stories of people within the trans and queer communities laying bare their fears and vulnerabilities.
Torrin A. Greathouse outlines their fears directly in their poem “Jaz told me to write a poem about the things I fear putting into words.” Greathouse’s poem is composed of potential poem titles. Each title is a stanza, echoing words from the previous stanza, creating a nightmare effect of spiraling out of control, even as Greathouse’s words are tight and intentional. “On Bodies / or I cannot believe in a god who would not give him the body he deserved.” This flows into the second stanza: “On God / or How to write an excuse with only three letters.” Greathouse’s stanzas are chilling in their simplicity and brutal with their honesty. Fear has never been so palpable.
But fear does not need to center on our own feelings, as AprilJo Murphy shows in her creative nonfiction essay “The Caves.” The essay operates on two levels. First, with the narrator coming to terms with her queerness while pressured to be straight. Second, the essay exposes the struggles of her male peers as they perform masculinity. Murphy understands that her male friends were “afraid that if they appeared weak or unsure then we [the girls] would have thought less of them. The pressure they put on themselves [ . . . ] was too great.” Murphy’s essay is at its best when she merges the fear of coming out with the fear of lost masculinity:
If a girl cannot be attractive unless she is deemed so by a man, a boy cannot become a man unless he is turned into one by a girl’s body, then perhaps what seemed so unnatural about queerness was that it didn’t rely on anybody else to be true.
Murphy’s coming-into-queerness essay humanizes masculinity and the ways gender norms oppress everyone.
“War,” a story by Emmett Patterson, illuminates the dark corners of trauma. The narrator Evan gets referred to group therapy after his partner R. dies. For Evan, it’s not just that R. died, but that as a trans man he could be the next one dead. Toward the end of the piece, Patterson switches from first to second person, so the reader is now the one in fear for their life. It is you who finds their trans co-worker beaten to death, and you who hears a friend over the phone sob “I’m sorry” as another trans friend dies. When Patterson returns to Evan’s first person point of view, Evan has our sympathy as he repeats “I will not die, I will not die, I will not die,” even as his mind asks, ‘“How could I not possibly be next?’”
Val Prozorova’s story “White Noise” uses drowning as an extended metaphor for exclusion and coping with change. The fear of this piece is inherent in the content and amplified using second person: “The problem with waking up at the bottom of a swimming pool is that you can’t breathe. First your lungs scream, then your stomach hurts [ . . . ] your body fights for the air.” Prozorova then breaks free of fear and extends his piece into what comes after: the evolution of self when confronted with extreme challenge. Here, the point of view shifts to the first person plural we. “[T]he few of us who haven’t surfaced yet have adapted instead [ . . . ] We’ve grown gills now, and we’ll be fine.” Prozorova’s story ends hopeful that community and adaptability triumph over fear.
There will never be a singular trans or queer narrative. TQ Review recognizes and validates the voices of these authors who share their fears and hopes. This is a journal of honesty and visibility for trans and queer people who are often silenced.