A letter released this week has been signed by hundreds of US and Canada-based authors asserting and reminding the community that trans people deserve rights and that trans rights are human rights.
“As members of the writing and publishing community of the United States and Canada, we stand firmly in support of trans and non-binary people and their rights,” reads the letter.
The new letter, released this week, is meant to serve as a companion piece for a similar letter signed by the UK and Ireland publishing community last week. That letter was signed by over 200 people in the regional industry, including prominent writers like Jeanette Winterson and Malorie Blackman.
“Culture is, and should always be, at the forefront of societal change, and as writers, editors, agents, journalists, and publishing professionals, we recognise the vital role our industry has in advancing and supporting the wellbeing and rights of trans and non-binary people,” the first letter reads.
The US/Canada letter has now been signed by over 1,200 members of the countries’ publishing communities, including Roxane Gay, Margaret Atwood, John Green, and Stephen King. It joins the UK/Irish letter in asserting that “non-binary people are non-binary, trans women are women, trans men are men, trans rights are human rights.”
“We are writers, editors, journalists, agents, and professionals in multiple forms of publishing. We believe in the power of words. We want to do our part to help shape the curve of history toward justice and fairness,” reads the US/Canada letter.
The new letters come after author JK Rowling, most known for her “Harry Potter” series, took an aggressive anti-transgender position over the past few months. Her opinions have mostly spread over social media, culminating in a paragraphs-long statement on her website explaining her anti-trans views. Her position was aided by a letter standing in solidarity with the writer, signed by names like John Cleese, Ian McEwan, and Tom Stoppard.
Author Maureen Johnson, who initiated the US/Canada letter, noted that “letters do not fix things” but that they are designed to “show support” and “bring awareness to an issue.” In this case, she says, that issue is “transphobia in the publishing discourse and community.”
“When JK got involved, it gave a lot of legitimacy to something that before seemed fringey. It became more accepted, because people know JK from Harry Potter,” Johnson told Publishers Weekly. “Sometimes you need to put your name on the line and say, ‘I don’t agree with what’s going on.’”