As Beautiful As Any Other | The Saturday Paper

I reviewed Kaya Wilson’s memoir, As Beautiful As Any Other for The Saturday Paper. Really appreciated having the space to think deeply about this book and the transition memoir as a growing genre.

‘Trans people are under immense pressure to present a coherent and palatable origin story that helps cis people make sense of us – even when we are not seeking medical treatment, we are treated by laypeople as if presenting to them for diagnosis. We are supposed to be intelligent, untroubled, sympathetic and reassuring.’

The Saturday Paper book review graphic showing the cover of Kaya Wilson's As Beautiful As Any Other

Walking away, backwards; or, woman-lite in women’s lit

As an AFAB nonbinary person, many feminist and women’s spaces welcome me – but often that welcome is itself a form of trans erasure, an insistence on seeing us as the genders we were assigned. I wrote about my uncomfortable relationship with feminist literary spaces for Feminist Writers Festival.

Image with Feminist Writers Festival logo and pullquote 'I know the hospitality I receive is frequently also a form of trans erasure - an insistence on seeing us as the genders we were assigned. - Jinghua Qian'

‘I’m pretty accustomed to not feeling at home anywhere – this is often a good thing, a productive tension. The can of worms fertilises the soil. But whether it’s Feminist Writers Festival, Facebook writers’ groups, or other feminist literary initiatives like the Stella Prize, I think it’s important to remember that you can’t simply tweak the category of woman to accommodate nonbinary people. Nonbinary disturbs the foundations of binary gender because it’s supposed to. It’s intentionally an interruption, a question as well as an identity.’

Genderfeels in nomads’ land

In urban, western settings, I’m usually read as a woman, albeit a queer sort. In the country, I more often pass as a boy. There’s a tangy pleasure in that, in being called sir and shuaige and brother.

As a genderfluid, nonbinary person, being clocked as one thing in the morning and another in the afternoon feels like the closest I will get to recognition. This havoc can be a delight, but also a complication. A liability.

Jinghua Qian, Genderfeels in nomads’ land, Them

My essay on traveling through Central Asia as a nonbinary person is out today in Them, edited by none other than Meredith Talusan, a writer I’ve been following for years. I’m so thrilled with this one – go read it now!