By Edward Henderson,
Posted on 07 May 2012.
San Diego State social work graduate student Zander Keig may have a promising literary career ahead of him. Keig’s book, “Letters For My Brothers: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect,” has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, which honors excellence in Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer literature. Winners of this prestigious award will be announced on June 4 at the 24th Annual Lambda Literacy Awards gala in New York City. Keig’s book is nominated in the Transgender Nonfiction category.
“Letters For My Brothers” is an anthology of 24 letters written by female-to-male transsexuals describing the challenges and offering insight from their transition. The concept for the book was inspired by the life of Louis Sullivan, a pioneer in FTM transsexual community activism. Sullivan communicated methods of obtaining peer support, professional counseling, endocrinological services and reconstructive surgery outside the institution of the gender dysphoria clinics, mainly through letter correspondence with individuals interested in making the FTM transition. From the mid-1980s until his death in 1991, Sullivan raised awareness and set the foundation for a community of FTM transsexuals through these letters.
“Today, fewer people who have experience in their transition stay involved in the community, so we have a dearth of mentors,” Keig said. “Because of that, I thought it would be a good idea to merry this letter writing concept with mentorship.”
Keig and his co-editor Megan Rohrer reached out to friends in the FTM community and posted public submission calls to find content for the book. The posts prompted writers to compose a nostalgic letter to themselves before they made the FTM transition. These letters highlighted their challenges, obstacles, fears and joys throughout the experience. Writers could also compose directly to FTM brothers offering advice and guidance.
Keig hopes the book will offer guidance to those within the FTM community in hopes to inspire anyone who reads it.
“If you fall outside the norms assigned to gender at birth, there are consequences. Here are 24 people who dared to transcend expectations of gender,” Keig said. “When people see others living an authentic life, I think it inspires them.”