Stephen King and Margaret Atwood are among the signatories to an open letter offering support to the trans and non-binary communities of the US and Canada, as a bitter divide over trans rights continues to split the literary world.
The message from writers and members of the US literary community follows a similar letter from authors in the UK and Ireland. Both letters come in the wake of a fierce row over JK Rowling’s comments on trans rights, including her comment that “if sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased”. On 30 September, more than 200 British and Irish writers including Jeanette Winterson and Malorie Blackman sent “a message of love and solidarity for the trans and non-binary community”. A day later, more than 1,500 names in the publishing world joined them in asserting that “non-binary lives are valid, trans women are women, trans men are men, trans rights are human rights”.
The US letter, has been signed by more than 1,200 members of the literary community, including Roxane Gay, Neil Gaiman, John Green, NK Jemisin, and Angie Thomas. “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,” they write. “To that end, we say: non-binary people are non-binary, trans women are women, trans men are men, trans rights are human rights. Your pronouns matter. You matter. You are loved.”
Author Maureen Johnson, who initiated the open letter, said that while “letters do not fix things”, they are “designed to a) show support and b) bring awareness to an issue. In this case, the issue is transphobia in the publishing discourse and community.”