An Open Letter to the Trans* and Gender Queer Literary Community
My name is July Westhale, and I am a Count Coordinator for VIDA. I was brought on board this year to help VIDA be more inclusive of folks along the gender spectrum, and to bring visibility and discourse to the underrepresented members of our shared literary community. Together with VIDA Board Members, Count Coordinators, and others involved in the organization, we are making great strides to promote inclusivity. Currently, we are in the process of adding multiple gender options to The Count, contacting literary organizations and publications around the country to ask about gender policies and visibility, and reaching out to the gender queer literary community to invite further discussion and interaction on how we can better serve and represent them.
After the successful implementation of our Count (http://www.vidaweb.org/the-count) for the past several years, as well as the work we do on a daily basis to combat oppression in the literary industry, we have received feedback and concerns that the VIDA practices that have been in place for the last few years are exclusive with regards to the trans* and gender queer-identifying writing community. We are working to change this, and would love your feedback and help! If you are a published writer who has work forthcoming in journals we count (please see the list of journals at the link above) this year, 2013, we want to hear from you! Similarly, if you are a trans* or gender queer-identifying writer and would like to open conversation and discourse around what practices VIDA could be implementing to be more inclusive and empowering, then we would love to have the opportunity to hear you speak.
VIDA, as an advocacy organization, highly values inclusivity and practices that are anti-oppressive and representative, practices that bring writers out of the margins and hold literary organizations and journals accountable for whom and what they publish. We believe in fair publication, visibility, and representation in the literary journals and organizations that we count (and the ones that we don’t!). As a cisgendered, queer, femme-identifying writer who has been brought onto VIDA as a necessary voice, I believe that my positionality is limited when it comes to the experience of identifying along the gender-queer spectrum. Therefore, I want to hear from you. Your voices are important and dynamic and incredible and necessary. Help us create more visibility and accountability in the literary industry by participating in the Count, and by volunteering your time at VIDA as a Count Intern or our AWP events.
I also invite you to check out HER KIND www.herkind.org which is VIDA’s publication that features writing by writers along the gender spectrum. Your comments and opinions as a member of our shared literary community are of great importance to us here at VIDA, and we welcome any suggestions on how to complicate and deepen the necessary conversation that has grown from The Count and VIDA’s mission.