there's a writing palooza. palooza everywhere

Dear all,

I’ve had a lot of writing published recently. Please don’t think for a moment that this is evidence that my manic logorrhea has advanced into the Covid-times, for it has not. On the contrary, I spend my days prone and snacking, tossing bon mots into the ether, twisting my arm, face, and angle lamp to produce the more viable selfie, and lighting candles with no goal in mind. But writing, as we know (well, not as we know, since I suppose this is an exception) tends to take a long time to grind through the gears of publication. So, the pre-Covid boom months have yielded their fruit, and it is possible for me to share it all with you.

Please enjoy, “Blood Pink,” in Social Text Online, co-authored with my brilliant friend and colleague Kristin Grogan of Rutgers University. “Blood Pink” is a response to the Gorsuch-authored Supreme Court decision in Bostock vs. Clayton County, in which Kristin and I attempt to work through the contradictions of a case that massively advances the public rights of trans and queer people, but does so on the basis of a person’s being “out at work.” We’re both work abolitionists, and we’re attempting to imagine a radically abolitionist response to Bostock, turning to the poetry of Danez Smith, and the hacky movie trope of the over-made-up corpse.

Please also enjoy my review of Jen Manion’s book Female Husbands, which was published last week in The Guardian. Manion’s work, I argue, exemplifies some of the methodological challenges of trans historiography, while also forcefully and intuitively confronting the oddly influential claim that there is no trans history, and that trans people sprang into being some time in the 1990s. (I initially included a more direct challenge to that argument as it was developed in a lecture of Selina Todd’s, but of course, free speech being what it is, that part was edited out. With my permission, I should add.)

Please enjoy “Trans Realism, Psychoanalytic Practice, and the Rhetoric of Technique,” published recently in Critical Inquiry. This essay on George Eliot and Sigmund Freud argues that the two shared a sense of their work as immanently efficacious, and also (perhaps surprisingly) saw that notion of efficacy as intimately implicated within transsexual desire. This is the first of the three essays that I’ve started calling THE PRINCESS PEACH TRILOGY, on trans feminism, psychoanalysis, emergence, and ontology that is followed by “The King’s Two Anuses: Trans Feminism and Free Speech,” published earlier this year in Differences: A Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, and to be concluded with an essay entitled “Egg Theory’s Early Style,” in TSQ. You can try to decipher the princess peach if you want.

Please enjoy “I’m So Into Avoiding You,” published today in The New Inquiry, an interview with my friend Charlie Markbreiter, whose TinyLetter is definitely worth subscribing too. We discuss avoidance, queer theory, political aesthetics, the relationship between trans feminism and psychoanalysis, and it ends with me heading out to roast a chicken.

Lastly: I’m sure many of you are aware that Danny and I have been, for the last two weeks, publicly agitating for greater accountability and safeguarding in the youth ministries at Menlo Church, beginning with the sacking of Danny’s biological father, the Senior Pastor John Ortberg. These past months have been grueling and distressing for both of us, but we are grateful for the opportunities to be useful that we have been given. If you are interested in learning more about the situation at Menlo, you can read this Twitter thread, or else review the timeline of events that we’ve reported here.

I’ll have more writing going up before too long, I think–not least the long-awaited egg essay. But for the moment, that’s enough, right?

Love and solidarity,



the return of Dickory Nixon

How am I to explain what I am publishing here? A while ago, I wrote a fictional story about a British enfant terrible trans woman named Dickory Nixon:


Lots of people thought Dickory was real, and then I felt guilty for having hoaxed them:


…and I tried to create space for people to talk about Dickory Nixon:


To my surprise, people had kind of loved her, as awful and cringe as she was. Even more surprising was that I too had come to love her; there was no spite in her awfulness, and there was an exuberance to her cruelty. The problem, as I tried to make clear, was that she had been gassed up beyond all sense, made to carry unrealistic expectations, deprived of responsible editing and engagement, and encouraged to wallow in pointless, politically inert antagonisms. Anyway, I encouraged people to write essays and manifestos and whathaveyou under the name “Dickory Nixon,” in hopes that we could bring this person to life.

At some point a few years ago, I had the idea of getting all the horny trans people I know - which is more or less all the trans people I know - and trying to live on an island together, in one perpetual orgy. The plan was called TRANSSEXUAL FUCK ISLAND. I have spoken about this with a handful of friends.

Yesterday, a friend sent me an email entitled TRANSEKSUAL FUCK ISLAND. I knew who it was because of the missing X: this is the t-girl friend of mine who has a broken keyboard, and replaces X with KS. It was a—manifesto? Constitution?—for transsexual fuck island. It was as compelling a manifesto as I have ever read. I reproduce it here, reiterating that I didn’t write it (honestly) but that I countersign every word.

It is signed “Dickory Nixon.”

 * * * 


transeksual fuck island a blueprint

by dickory nikson (by this broke bitch a keyboard)

the purpose of transkesual fck island is ecstatic ritual radical peace an d global rebellion. its infrastructure eksists but needs realising. the rest can be stolen. this is for all the ripped off bitches

the important thing to realise is that each life goal can be laughed at, but who makes the bricks, and the bats? we're getting inside and there's nothing you cand o about it.

the tansteksual fuck island needs to be an artificial because on transeucksual fuck island everything has to be artificial and everyone has to be artificial ie transeuksual including the caterpillars they hae to be transeksHoual too but alo because if you use a real one thats just colonialist duh

if you try to run away from us were already there

the blueprint was written by sylvia rivera

th blueprint was written by black is beauiful

the blueprint was written by horny bitches and hos

every transeksual on the mainsland is trapped inside a cisgender social body

the transeksual fuck island is modular because modules are radical and more importantly rhisömatique.

the sweeter the fruit.

our feelings can be mass produced, scaled up, we need to make some tweaks to the architecture but weve got people on it itll happen its good.

infection must happen from deep within better get it in.

you cannot defeat all the bottoms of the world!

we are currently running simulations to determine probability amplitudes associated with such parameters as violence against property, violence against violence, ideal quantites of being(s) in an orgy, taking hostages who will then pretend to hae stocklhom syndrome when they are returned but really they're coming back just like they fantasised in homeland, just mor dancing and drugs in general, abolishing unis, whether anybody who is gien authority must be ritually sissified, perwersion, drums at protests, boombokses at protests, area and tonnage of island module, material of island module, sources of power, locations for prefabricating the island module, how to get internt access to the planet without fucking things up. the catgirls are onit.

the blueprint was written by brother karl's hemerrhoid from sitting in the british library reading room all day.

wigged out, geeked out, we dance to bacchic beats, sapphic chic, spastik freak, a complete disease.

i mean mdma and mushrooms and lsd and ketamine of course but anything else, i don't know, you wanna ban seconals, ok, maybe you got a point we can talk. speaking personally i think it's fucking sad all the coleridge stans cant drop laudanum.

hot girls, we need more hot girls, more titties and fucking, ten times the titties!

the body is a toile that can be ripped open and rearranged to create an artwork, or not.

(cannabis was already assumed, and alcohol, and caffeine.

the blueprint was written by elisa acton lol jk nothing gainst her she just seems like somethinga terf might like that's otherwise ok or een cool like prince

the future is fungus

we are going to alter states


(i assume that you are drug positive but forgot that maybe you werent a tran)

what weneed to do now is get inside.

were already inside where it counts the head

inside the dick the ballsac on the prostate

we need bros and sisses and sibs on all ffronts nothing will contain our chaos, if you see what a hundred catgirls and boisluts can do imagine what the discipline of hundreds of hundreds of hundreds will do, hallucinate me a communism, randomly shift frequencies, not just *pseudo*randomly shift frequencies duh.

but definitely we have to get the color scheme right or else it will never work.

Episode 3: Tran Yuri Ekspress

take a ride on the groovy train baby feel it dig it we know down low  it dig it all aboard the tran yuri ekspress fuck slow feel it dig it now aboard the tran yuri ekspress titty grow just like fake trains on fake tracks in the snow freshly driben yo dig it there'll be no cars on the fuck island 

peace love equality!!


oho BYTHEWAY if the question is whether ace/aro are wanted on transeksual fuck island the answer is duh ofc wtf is wrong with you get off my island you narc



Dear all,

I’m thrilled to tell you all that my essay on George Eliot and Sigmund Freud went up in Critical Inquiry today. It’s entitled “Trans Realism, Psychoanalytic Practice, and the Rhetoric of Technique,” and it’s hands down the piece I’m proudest of having written. I started writing it in 2014, so seeing it in press is a big and exciting moment for me. If you’d like to read it, you can do so here:


If you’d like to read it but don’t have institutional access, feel free to email me at my work address and I’ll send you a pdf.

I’ve occasionally thought of three of my essays on psychoanalysis and trans feminism as comprising a trilogy, each extending the analysis of the one that precedes it. “Trans Realism” is the first of the trilogy: it lays out my understanding of the place of transness in the work of Freud and Eliot. “The King’s Two Anuses” (which is already out in Differences) is the second, extending that argument and directing it against both Lacanian theory and against the liberal rhetoric of free speech. And “Egg Theory’s Early Style” (which is still forthcoming in TSQ) is the third, extending the critique of Lacan into a critique of queer theorizations of trans life, and arguing that queer theory understands queerness as necessarily pre-transition.

I’m excited to hear what people think of the Eliot/Freud piece - please do let me know if you have any thoughts.

best wishes,


a little more on father’s day

bug, humbar!

To say a little more.

As a child I had very little curiosity about my own paternity. It was all imaginative. I’d come up with a theory that my father must have gotten left behind on holiday, and had occasional “memories” of watching him run for the plane. Other times I had romantic fantasies about an elegant Italian man (I am not Italian, but as a child I thought/hoped I looked Italian). I probably shared these thoughts with my mother and grandmother, but I don’t remember their responses.

When I was twelve or so, my mother finally told me the story of my father. She did so because I had asked her why she occasionally yelped, compulsively, a certain male first name. Initially she had told me that it was meaningless to her, but I guessed that wasn’t true. I have occasional tics like this too. I’ve written about them - sometimes I’ll yell out a painful thought, or a desperate cry of love. Apparently my mother’s father, who died a decade before I was born, used to yell out “I want some money.”

So, the name. My mother couldn’t bring herself to talk. I asked if this man’s name was my father’s name. She said yes. I asked why they had decided to split up (I had never, and have never, seen my mother in a romantic relationship). She said “why do you think?” I said I didn’t know. She went on: “what is the usual reason two people don’t stay together?” I thought it an odd time for a quiz, but tried my best: had he died? Was he married to another? My mother stared at me, and eventually said, very deliberately: “no. he was a priest.”

So I learned the story of the priest. A kind, gentle man of intellectual measure; a lover of Christ and of God. An Oxford man (as I went on to be). “You look like him, Jos.” Eventually I learned that he simply loved Christ more than he loved me, or her. Fair enough, I thought.

A few years later - I was 17 - I had grown sad, drunk, lonely, and adolescent, and I told my mother that I wished I had had siblings. Rather bitterly, my mother responded that I did have siblings, I just didn’t know them. I asked, “so the priest had other affairs?” No. It was time for a new story. My mother had loved the priest, and had wanted to have a child with him, but he had been unwilling. So my mother had a brief affair with another man, who already had a wife and four children. His wife knew of my existence but not the kids.

My mother showed me a photo of my father with his actual family. They looked like complete strangers, which they were. I looked then, and still look, like my mother, and I already knew that my character flaws were hers, though we have very different virtues. I asked why he hadn’t contributed child support, which we could have used. My mother didn’t want him involved, and anyway she had refused to put his name on my birth certificate. I asked why he had never looked me up. She paused. It turned out that he had. When I was 12 or so, he had come round to the house.  “Remember that friend of mine who came around that time?” He asked me questions about my life. He called me “son,” which my mother disliked. So did I.

I fixated on the child support. There was an Eastenders plot involving Robbie Jackson seeking money from an absent father, and he wanted £17,000. I wanted £17,000. I considered seeking it, but I didn’t know how to find the man. Throughout my early adulthood, the only thought I had of this man was that I felt he owed me money. The priest, meanwhile, I had grown used to thinking of as my father, and my mother clearly did too. My father was a teaspoon of mess, but the priest was a spiritual forebear.

After graduating college, I made a friend who worked at the electoral rolls. She asked me about my father, and eventually came to me saying that she had found his address. I wrote him a letter attempting to explain myself to him. I had no idea how to do that. I didn’t send it. I thought of my father once or twice a year. Every couple of years I would spend an hour googling the names of my half-siblings, and from a distance noting when they graduate, got jobs, got married, lost their hair (they’re older than me). 

Sometimes I found photos of them all together.  Standing on lawns, posing for family photographs. They looked nothing like me - their lives, a few miles from where I grew up, a couple of social classes up the scale, looked utterly alienating to me. Did they know about me? I didn’t know, but every time I thought about it I realized that it was quite possible the story my mother had told me wasn’t true anyway. Which was another reason not to bother them - especially after I relinquished my sense of entitlement to the £17k.

A couple of years ago, I was on one of these occasional google binges and noticed that my father had died. I felt the final closing of a door that had been functionally useless for ever. There was another picture of the rest of the family on the lawn. They looked more settled, maybe. Again I considered reaching out to them. But what would I say? “I think your dad might have fucked my mum in 1982. Also I’m a transsexual libertine living in New York and teaching in California. Hi, I’m Grace.” It just seems a lot to give, and a lot to expect people to take. And what would I want? They don’t look like people I would want in my life. They have boring seeming jobs, and they are all straight, white, married, and sporty. They almost look like *Tories*. Shudder. So, I never have, and probably I never will - though I reserve the right to change my mind, or to just skirt through google again in a couple of years’ time.

But: I did learn more about the priest a couple of years ago. I can’t be sure of the details, and this is my mother’s story to tell - or, as seems to be the case, to decline to tell. But certainly I realized that I had made some assumptions about the priest that turned out not to be true, and that he may very well have been profoundly evil. I’m going to leave that vague. But it’s not just to spare blushes. In the end, paternity being a legal fiction about which one knows very little, I have almost no credible information about any of this. But I learned enough to know that I could no longer share my mother’s apparent warmth towards him.

There isn’t much of a lesson, but I think the guiding thread here was a persistent sense that I was supposed to care more about what was missing than I did. My mother wanted me to have a good dad, so she made one up. But I didn’t feel I was missing anything. She thought I lacked male influence, and perhaps that was why I was effeminate. Maybe it was. But again, once I began to transition neither I nor she saw that as a problem. Rather as a gift. And I’m grateful for that, as hard as my relationship with my mother is.


Lez all read Bostock v. Clayton County!!

Just to be clear: this is not a “love is love” case or a “privacy of your own home” case. It’s not Lawrence v. Texas redux. This case is about being QUEER AS FUCK IN THE WORKPLACE. This is about outness, unapologetic, confrontational and PUBLIC queerness and transness. Especially transness, which has never been subsumed by privacy and has always entailed questions of publicness, reference, and legibility.

This decision is therefore both a threat (possibly a mortal one) to the regime of privacy that has governed the legal administration of sexuality for decades AND a recognition of queerness as protectable on the *grounds* of its legibility. One can imagine a Foucaultian critique of Gorsuch’s decision as an exhortation to disclosure - indeed, it seems likely that this judgment will empower bosses to extract such confessions from workers. The answer there, of course, is to abolish capitalism, bosses, and the wage form, and meanwhile to celebrate some good news.

Also: to abolish the police, and not fool ourselves that law will be the sole instrument of our liberation!

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