"I want trans characters I can relate to in stories that are relevant," is something I've opined more times than I can remember and Torrey Peters is h"I want trans characters I can relate to in stories that are relevant," is something I've opined more times than I can remember and Torrey Peters is here to remind me to be careful what I wish for. It's one thing to want to see a bit of me in the tales I read, it's another thing entirely to have my most frightening anxieties exposed on the page like tabloid gossip.
Having eschewed traditional publishing routes in favor of speaking directly to the audience she wants, Torrey now writes books specifically for trans women, which she makes available for download from her site or as bound copies for a small fee. Just as with her first two novellas, Glamour Boutique is short, honest, and absolutely riveting. There is no sugar-coating here. Unflinching is typically an adjective reserved for Dateline exposés or brutal crime thrillers, but is also incredibly apt for this new work. Within these scant 80 or so pages, she introduces us to Amy, our protagonist, locked in a carnal embrace with Reese, most recent in a long line of lovers with whom she's had awkward dissociated sex. With the aid of a bit of amyl nitrate, however, Amy finds the walls she's built over years of dissatisfying sexual encounters falling away and she finds herself having to face somethingtruly terrifying: herself as she is.
As Peters walks us through the various encounters that led Amy to this closed off way of connecting, she trods upon keenly familliar ground for me. When the still-closeted Amy names the unmentionable erotica site where far too many of us took tentative steps toward embracing ourselves I gasped. She had broken the unwritten rule and mentioned fictionmania outside of our private online forums! Torrey describes all too well the feeling of having sex while completely dissociated from the act, your partner, and yourself. She gets the shame of the secrecy, of failing again and again to be the men that society kept telling us we were.
In short, Torrey has written a book that encapsulates the staggeringly difficult and diverse relstionship I (and countless other trans girls) have had (and continue to have even long after transitioning) with my body as a sexual battlefield far more thoroughly than I've ever managed even when speaking solely to myself. A fact which we are rarely excited to discuss lest it become new fodder for nosy religious zealots and angry outdated second wave feminists seeking to debate our existence and legislate us quite literally to death. But they're conversations that we, as trans women, dearly need to be having among ourselves in order to try to heal and grow from.
It's real, it doesn't offer pat answers for deeply complex issues, and it doesn't shy from laying bare some truths many of us would rather not too closely examine. This is a book that I dont know if cis people would like unless they have known a trans woman quite intimately, as I'm not sure if there's that same impact that I'm carrying for having been so thoroughly *seen* by a piece of writing. If a measure of art is the degree to which it affords us a mirror through which to see ourselves from a different perspective and gain a wider understanding of our quirks, then what Torrey has accomplished here is most undoubtedly art. Art that made me incredibly uncomfortable and which I immediately made friends read so I could talk about it with them....more