Please welcome Matthew J. Metzger to our blog today. He will share some insights about ”What I don’t know about being trans’ and introduce his brand-new book that released on May 1, 2016. Read on to know more, especially for winning a copy of the eBook, Spy Stuff!
Anton never thought anyone would ever want to date him. Everyone knows nobody wants a transgender boyfriend, right? So he’s as shocked as anyone when seemingly-straight Jude Kalinowski asks him out, and doesn’t appear to be joking.
The only problem is … well, Jude doesn’t actually know.
Anton can see how this will play out: Jude is a nice guy, and nice guys finish last. And Anton is transgender, and transgender people don’t get happy endings. If he tells Jude, it might destroy everything.
And if Jude tells anyone else … it will.
‘What I don’t know about being trans‘ by Matthew J. Metzger
I don’t much buy into write what you know as advice — because then, let’s face it, you’re done three books in — but I do buy into it as fact.
Fact is, we all put a little bit of ourselves in our stories. I do it all the time. The awkward kid that comes off as aggressive in The Suicidal Peanut? That’s me. The violent depression explored in Vivaldi in the Dark? That’s mine. The father in Private who doesn’t know what else to do but fall back on the simple fact that loving his children comes above all else? He’s my father too.
But never has it been more true than it is for Spy Stuff. And…not for the reason you might think.
Here’s the thing: Spy Stuff is a book about a transgender kid, written by a transgender author. I know how this is going to go. All of Anton’s experiences, clearly, are mine. All of his fears, worries, and anxieties are cut out from my own life, right?
I did put my own experiences into Spy Stuff…but not that part.
I was six years older than Anton when I figured out I was trans, so school was by then long dead and buried. I’m asexual, so first relationship worries simply didn’t happen to me. And frankly, with my voice, there was no way I could have even hoped to pass for male at his age, so I wouldn’t have bothered even if I had known what was up.
Actually, out of the two main characters, it’s the cisgender guy I identify with more. And that’s not even strange, because there is a blanket obsession with the idea that all trans people experience life the same way. We don’t. The part of Anton’s life that I know, the part that came directly from me, wasn’t his gender identity at all.
It was where he found acceptance.
I am very accepted at work. And I work in an office full of big, ugly bastards whose idea of deep and thoughtful conversation is working out whether Chinese food or Indian food is going to give you the shits first. When my skills are needed, I am a gent. When they aren’t, I’m a shortarse. They mock me for still using the ladies’ toilets. They are currently in fits of laughter over my sudden evolution into a chain-smoker (thanks, hormones!) and are jealous of my ability to be kicked in the bollocks without going down.
Yet, they accept me. Visitors get black looks for referring to me as female. My GP, who is refusing to treat me, has been converted into a swearword by the whole team. I am presumed by default to be up for takeaways, because only girls do diets. I talk freely about my transition, and these people who have no clue what trans people have to go through can laugh with me about the stupid shit, and commiserate when I need to vent. I have always felt welcome, accepted, and comfortable in that office.
I do not have any such luck in the LGBT fiction community. I have regretted my decision to come out to this community ever since I did it. And yet I expected it to be the most welcoming of all the worlds I move within.
The people I expected to be against what I am, are not. And the people I expected to be supportive, are not.
And that’s the experience I transposed onto Anton. His father, who is known to be pro-LGB people, is virulently and staunchly anti-T. Yet in a school where gay and tranny are still thrown around without a care by the entire student population, Anton does find those who support him.
That was when I wrote what I knew.
Anton slowly relaxed as Jude started to brighten up and just … talk. Jude chattering, Anton was starting to realise, was a sign that everything was alright. And Anton desperately wanted it to be, so he simply clung on to Jude’s hand — even though it was raining outside, and really too cold to not be wearing gloves — and let the noise wash over him all the way home.
Which meant, when he let them into the house and the smell of Aunt Kerry’s drunk spag bol invaded their clothes, Anton was … actually in kind of a good mood. Maybe he could do this. Maybe Jude would listen, even if in the end he still decided dating a trans guy wasn’t for him? There was a chance, right?
So when Lily appeared in the doorway, took one look at Jude, and screamed, Anton laughed.
“What the hell!” Jude yelped as she tore back into the kitchen.
“Mummy, Anton’s friend’s on fire in the hall!”
“– kinda weird.”
“No shi — er, hell?”
“Just ignore her,” Anton advised, hanging up their coats. A nervous swoop made itself known when Jude grinned and kissed his ear, but he laughed it off and pushed him in the direction of the kitchen. “Go get us drinks or something.”
“It’s your house,” Jude said, but wandered off obediently. Anton took a moment to simply breathe before following him.
Lily had firmly decided — despite having seen Jude before and not having really clocked his hair — that Jude was on fire, and Anton had to wrestle a cup of water away from her before it ended up on Jude’s head.
“Nooo, give it back!” she wailed, stretching up to grab his belt as he put the cup in the sink and rummaged in the fridge for Cokes.
“Yeah, Anton, give it back. I might start melting the counter,” Jude said, sliding onto one of the stools at the island counters. Aunt Kerry, busy with dinner, simply chuckled at the both of them.
“You’re being mean!” Lily yelled, stamping her foot, then turned on Jude, skidding across the tiles to grab at his trousers. “You need a fireman!”
“It’s always that colour,” Jude said in a serious voice, but he was wearing an ear-splitting grin, and Anton’s heart clenched hard at the sheer beauty of him, despite the battered face.
“No, it’s on fire!”
“No it’s not,” Jude said. “It’s ginger.”
“That’s not ginger, ginger biscuits are ginger!”
“If they’re brown,” Lily said seriously, “then why are they called ginger biscuits, huh?”
“Because they have ginger in them.”
“Which makes them ginger and that’s not ginger and you’re on fire!”
“Lily, leave Jude alone,” Aunt Kerry interjected.
Jude dropped his head onto the counter with a muffled cackle into both hands, and Anton couldn’t help but laugh at sight of him. “Oh God,” he said. “Come on, let’s go into the living room, and –”
“Noooo, you can’t, he’ll put the living room on fire!”
“Lily, seriously, stop it with the fire, he’s not on fire.”
“Jew!” she screeched, and Jude did a full body twitch like he was trying not to curl in on himself. “Jew!”
“Jude!” Anton corrected.
“Jude,” she echoed scornfully, throwing Anton a fabulously dirty look for a kid who wasn’t even six yet. “Jude!”
“What?” Jude managed, coughing and rubbing at his eyes, still grinning.
“Tell Tasha to stop it!”
Anton froze. Like a bucket of ice water being dumped on his head, every muscle seized up, and the Coke in the cans started rattling in his shaking hands. “Lily! Stop it!” Aunt Kerry barked, but Jude — oh God, Jude, totally oblivious Jude —
“Okay,” he said. “Who’s Tasha?”
Lily blinked, then flung her arm out, and pointed right at Anton. “Anton’s Tasha,” she said, like it was so obvious.
“Lily, that’s eno –”
“Anton was Natasha only then she became Anton and Mummy says I have to say he but I forget sometimes,” Lily continued in a loud, inescapable voice. It bounced off the walls and tiles, and one of the cans slipped through Anton’s hands and burst open on the floor. Coke was flung everywhere in long, fizzy bursts, soaking his socks and trousers, and through Lily’s indignant shriek and Aunt Kerry’s yell, all he could see was — was —
The wide-eyed, confused stare that Jude was giving him. And the single word, that word, the word Anton hated.
Anton opened his mouth, found nothing coming up to save him, and did the only thing possible.
Matthew is an asexual, transgender author dragged up in the wet and windy British Isles. He currently lives and works in West Yorkshire, and has a special fondness for writing the rough-edged British working class society in which he grew up — warts and all.
Matthew roams mainly on Twitter and Facebook, has a free fiction page, runs a blog chronicling his own transition from female to male, and has a website. His young adult backlist can be found on his JMS Books author page. And as a last resort, he can also be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leave a comment on this post for the chance to win one e-copy of Spy Stuff by Matthew J. Metzger.
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This giveaway will end on May 8th at 11:59 PM CDT. Good Luck!