It’s the end of 2022, which means that Trans_Muted is now almost a year old!
As the duo that runs TM (Riccardo and Dorian), we have had so many new experiences in these last few months – from learning the terms of the publishing trade to going to our first zine fest! We wanted to say some words to ourselves, and to whomever reads this, as a sort of ‘pat on the back’.
At first, I relied solely upon my knowledge from activism – which I still do, because I’m always completely lost! I know next to nothing about running a journal, and every day I wake up with the song What’s Up? by the 4 Non Blondes in my head.
There’s a great big communist/anarchist activist space that pretty much anyone can get into – but nothing really for trans people. We’re sort of just wading through this life trying our best, trying to make friends and stand up for each other where we can. But, contrary to popular cis belief, there’s no ‘Big Trans’. We have lots of little groups, sometimes comprised of a single person, and one or two big projects that just aren’t the same as those activist spaces ‘that pretty much anyone can get into’.
Trans_Muted doesn’t aim to be a big activist space (though it’s a dream of mine), but instead to be something ‘that pretty much anyone can get into’. People have asked me how we decide what to publish, but we really don’t decide at all – there’s one topic, (trans)gender, and that’s it. The decisions are made by our contributors and those who support us: for the former, they decide what the content of the journal will be; for the latter, they decide whether we keep on going or not!
2023 will be a daunting year, but I have hope that we’ll persevere – the trans community as a whole, all those struggling in the face of oppression, and (in a more self-centred way) Trans_Muted too. This journal will always be in the hands of the trans community (and in the face of its oppressors), and so Trans_Muted’s 2023 is just as precarious as the trans community’s 2023.
The fact is that having a trans journal in circulation is a luxury, from where many stand, and many (cis) people believe that there’s simply no audience for us.
It’s no surprise, since their point of view is so far away from trans reality that they believe ‘trans people already have rights’ and other such nonsense. Arguing against the idea that Trans_Muted and cultural projects like it are ‘luxuries’ is frustrating – especially since these people don’t see their own cultural produce in pretty much everything else. If we could bring them to a world where normativity had gone another way, and where their human expression was seen as a ‘luxury’, I would gladly take them on a one-way trip. Joking. Or am I? Yes I am. Am I?
At any rate, Trans_Muted will – along with the rest of us ‘non-normative’ beings – keep pushing on the wall that stops us from enjoying our creativity, our academia, and our general interstellar exploration of our lives themselves. When we get fed up of The State of Things™ (which is a daily activity that one must schedule accordingly, in between breakfast and eleventh breakfast), we will do what we do best: whatever the fuck we feel like doing.
Trans_Muted has been collecting and publishing beautiful, deep, touching poems, stories, artworks, and essays by trans* people for a year now. This creative community is the lifeblood of the project. As an editor of a transgender journal, I’ve found that the way we even approach these submissions and their publication is deeply connected with the issues of cisnormativity and capitalism. (How to be a good trans*, in my case non binary, editor?)
The means of growth and communications are those of capital, which reduces everything to a ready-to-sell commodity: ‘post a nice trans* poem at this hour and you’ll get a lot of engagement’, ‘make sure the journal is appealing to bookshops, otherwise you won’t get any money’. Pretty whack. But Trans_Muted is not Trans_Muted™, a nice brand for the capitalist cis-tem to assimilate trans creations and intelligence (‘look, they’re so profound!’). That would obscure the true essences of these works - poems we’ve been touched by, essays that have made us reflect, and so on: they are artifacts of living people. They are a triumph of transformations, gender-expansive tidal waves, to which one cannot remain static and indifferent.
As we like to repeat, 'we are always in transition.’ Every submission is an example of this.
Similarly, to see each of these creations as a ‘useful product’ would also perpetuate a cisnormative approach to trans* works, that of a kind of indifferent and predatory tolerance: ‘thank you for expressing you gender and making us feel so good about ourselves - now fuck off.’ Commodification and cis-normalisation go hand in hand. No, these works have to keep on living - through more than just reposts.
In a way, 2023 will be all about this. Trans_Muted is born within and for the trans* community, which has been supporting us for the whole 2022. Since day 1 I’ve asked myself ‘how to give something back’ to our fellow trans* people that have entrusted us with their thoughts and words. 2023 will require us to work harder and bigger - flood the public space with living trans* art! Push for a new transnormativity! It’s exciting and scary, but cisnormativity has passed its day.
Finally, my modest hope is that Tran_Muted will be, always more and more vigorously, at least a consolation, a way to shatter the isolation. Let us enter the new year by slinging our shields and holding each other’s hands.
Love and solidarity.