The SAGE Encyclopedia of Trans Studies


I’m in another book. It is a massive, two-volume encyclopedia, and my contribution is very small, but I am in it. I have a small section on trans people in the ancient world.

I won’t be getting a copy of the book, because this is academic publishing and even with my author discount it would be a ridiculous amount of money. But books like this are not intended to be purchased by humans. They are aimed primarily at academic libraries. If you happen to work in such a place, then do please consider buying this book because every university should have one. Purchase details are here, and I can probably get you a discount.

LGBT History Month – Part 2


Once again I have been working with the wonderful Karen Garvey and her colleagues at Bristol’s M Shed museum. Our progrmme of events this year is designed to link in with the LGBT+ History Month theme: Body, Mind, Spirit. Due to the pandemic they are online Zoom events, but that means y’all can watch them. They are free, though you do need to click though to M Shed to book. Here’s what we have for you:

  • 4th February: Osman from LGBT+ Muslim charity Hidayah talks about Muslim views on queer relationships, historically and now. This will be great. Osman has promised me a bunch of Arabian Nights stories.
  • 10th February: I will be talking about Michael Dillon – trans pioneer, one of the key figures in 20th century trans history. I have quite a bit of new Dillon research to share.
  • 16th February: all the way from Seattle, the amazing Nicola Griffith will be in conversation with me about her novel Hild, and gender and sexuality in early medieval times. If you read and loved Hild, you need to watch this.
  • 24 February: a panel discussion on the history of gender in sport. Can we do hot political topics? Yes we can. This one is early morning so we can welcome my pal, Prof. Noah Riesman all the way from Melbourne.

LGBT History Month – Part I


February is fast approaching, and all this week I will be highlighting talks that I am going to be doing as part of that.

One that I’m really looking forward is one I have been invited to do by Strawberry Hill House. That’s the former home of Horace Walpole, who was probably gay and definitely a Gothic novelist. You may have heard of The Castle of Otranto. He was also an MP, an art historian, a prodigious writer of letters, and most importantly for my purposes a wealthly man-about-town in Georgian London.

That, naturally, brought him into contact with other famous people of the time, including Charlotte de Beaumont, Chevalière d’Eon. Before arriving in London she had been a diplomat, spy and cavalry officer in the service of Louis XV of France. Her time in London will involve more spying, a gender transition, significant quantities of wine, the Hellfire Club, the American Revolution, Marie Antoinette, the French Revolution, Prince George and William Blake, to name but a few.

It is going to be a lot of fun. Book here.

London Met Archives gets Unorthodox

Loki - Karl Johnsson
On December 5th the London Met Archives will be holding their 18th Annual LGBTQ+ Conference. There will be a lot of great content, including a panel discussion on queering museums led by the inimitable Dan Vo. And there will be me.

One of the themes of the conference is, “In what way faith, religion, and belief intersect with sexuality, transition(ing), identity and dissent?” In view of this I have offered a talk titled, “What Gender is God?” This will look at a range of religions, mainly around the ancient world, and how they have queered gender. Will there be Loki? Of course there will. And lots more besides. It should be fun.

To see the whole programme, and reserve a ticket for the entire event (£10), click here.

The image, by the way, is from volume #2 of Vei, the wonderful graphic novel in which Sara B Elfgren and Karl Johnsson give a new take on their traditional mythology.

LGBHTM 2021

Yes, I know it isn’t February yet, but there is a tradition of doing a launch event for LGBT History Month in November, and that month is almost upon us.

The being the Year of the Plague, there will be no flashy in-person show at some posh venue, but we will be (virtually) at the British Library. The online show is being produced by the inimitable Dan Vo, and I am delighted to report that I have a small speaking part. For more information, and to book a place at the event, click here.

World Fantasy Schedule

My appeal for people to complain to the World Fantasy Board about failings in this year’s convention seems to have fallen on deaf ears. I’m not entirely surprised. Fandom generally prefers to blame other fans when things go wrong, rather than the people whose fault it is, and who might be able to change things.

That left this year’s WFC badly short of knowledgeable panelists. So I had a choice: either join the boycott and let this year’s ConCom take the rap, or accept panel slots and use the platform to talk about why this year’s original programme descriptions were so bad in the hope that someone might actually take note.

There were a whole bunch of things that informed my decision. High on the list was the fact that the convention told me that they had a lot more international members this year. WFC is very expensive and almost always in North America. If going virtual this year meant lots of new members from around the world, I wanted to be able to talk to those people.

I confess also to wanting to rub certain people’s noses in it. The usual rule for WFC is that no one gets more than one panel slot. This year I have three. Take that, Steve Jones! Doubtless this will be an excuse for him to declare this year’s convention the new “Worst WFC Ever!”

Another important factor was that I got offered a panel on small press publishing, and I have a duty to my authors to promote them were possible.

Anyway, here’s what I am doing. All times are US Mountain Time.

Queering Fantasy
Date and Time: Thursday Oct 29, 4:00 p.m.
Panelists: S. Qiouyi Lu, Jerome Stueart (M), Cheryl M. Morgan
This is the one that originally had a trans-exclusionary description. Kudos to Jerome for writing something much more interesting.

Tropes and Archetypes
Date and Time: Friday Oct 30, 3:00 p.m.
Panelists: Kryssa Stevenson, Sarah Beth Durst, Cheryl M. Morgan, Sharon Shinn
This one was originally a “women in fantasy” panel. I’m pleased to see that the new description actually addresses one of the issues that causes the problem. Mythology and folklore are full of misogynistic tropes and archetypes.

Small Press Impact: Great Books Not Published by the Big Five
Date and Time: Saturday Oct 31, 2:00 p.m.
Panelists: Yanni Kuzia (M) Cherise Papa, Kathryn Sullivan, J.R.H. Lawless, Cheryl M. Morgan
Yanni is with Subterranean, so from my point of view I am totally playing with the big boys here.

The full panel descriptions are available here.

Of course WFC is expensive, so most of you won’t get to see me in action. I’m hoping that you might hear about it, though.

Octocon Happened

Another convention done. I didn’t see a lot of it due to the OutStories Bristol AGM and there being a Grand Prix on the weekend, but the Octocon folks have done a superb job of getting their content available for viewing by those people who missed it. All of the links are here. My panel was Better With Age, which was on Sunday at 10:00am.

Large parts of the convention were on Zoom run through Twitch. The use of Twitch was partly because such services make it easier to control the streaming, and I suspect it also helped with getting the content available.

One of the elements that wasn’t on Twitch was the parties. I attended the Glasgow in 2024 and Dead Dog parties, as did Kevin because it was a virtual convention and being in Nevada is no more of a barrier than being in the UK. There may have been whiskey.

Many thanks to my Irish pals for a fun weekend. Hopefully I will be able to visit Dublin again soon.

Octocon Schedule

October is pretty full-on when it comes to conventions. Last weekend it was Eurocon, this weekend Octocon, the FIYAHcon, a weekend off (I think) and World Fantasy. FIYAHcon is the only one I’m not on programme for.

You can find the full Octocon schedule here. The programme item I am doing is:

Sunday Oct. 11th – 10:00am
Better With Age – Older Characters in SFF
There’s a lot to be said for – and by – characters with life experience, so why are fantasy and science fiction so often focused on those who have none? What is lost by pigeon-holing or even ignoring the wisdom of age, and what can be gained when we include the full spectrum of age and experience in our fiction?
Ian McDonald, Cheryl Morgan (m), Gillian Polack, Marguerite Smith

I’ll have to miss some of Saturday due to the OutStories Bristol AGM, but hopefully I will be back in (virtual) Dublin in time for Juliet’s reading.

This will be the first virtual convention I’ve seen that is being streamed through Twitch. I will be interested to see how it stacks up against StreamYard, which we used for CoNZealand Fringe.

Eurocon Schedule

The full schedule for this year’s Eurocon, known as Futuricon, has been published. I’m sad to be missing a trip to Croatia, but I’m absolutely delighted to be doing two panels. Here they are:

Saturday, October 3rd – 15:40
Worldbuilding with sex and gender
Otherwise known as my weird animals talk

Sunday, October 4th – 12:15
The Wizard’s Tower panel
The title in the schedule is in Croatian, but the panel will be in English. I’ll be talking with Aleksandar Žiljak about his new book, As the Distant Bells Toll, which will be published on Friday. Also on the panel is Mihaela Marija Perković. I’ll be talking to her about an anthology of feminist SF titled Empress of the Housework which will be forthcoming from Wizard’s Tower next year.

The website says that times will be displayed in your local timezones, so I’m assuming that the above times are BST, not CEST.

Membership is not free, but it is only €10 and you can buy one here.

Virtual NASFiC Lives!

The NASFiC, or North American Science Fiction Convention, is a WSFS-affiliated event that happens only in years when WorldCon is outside of North America. This year Worldcon was in New Zealand. Of course only the New Zealanders got to go, but a NASFiC had already been selected. No one can go to that physically either, but the lovely folks in Columbus, Ohio are running a virtual con anyway.

It is free to attend, though they are accepting donations. You can sign up here.

The con started this afternoon my time. I’ve already watched one panel (on historical fiction) which was great. And of course I am spending a lot of time hanging out on Discord, where we have a table for Westercon 74 in (very) sunny Tonopah, Nevada.

Everything has been thrown together in a bit of a rush, so I am well impressed that things appear to be going very well. I have two confirmed panels as follows (times are US East Coast, so 5 hours behind the UK and 3 hours ahead of California):

Roots in Two Places: Writing from a Dual Culture Experience

Saturday 2:00 PM Olentangy Room

Alma Alexander, Cheryl Morgan, Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Vikram Paralkar

Our panelists, all with roots in two or more separate cultures — look at the ways having dual culture and language has guided their worldbuilding and storytelling.

Running SF/F Organizations

Sunday 12:00 PM Scioto Room

Cheryl Morgan, Eileen Gunn, Mary Anne Mohanraj, and Sumana Harihareswara

Creators, directors, publishers, and nonprofit leaders discuss the trials and victories of running magazines, publishing companies, and other SF/F businesses and organizations. They discuss logistics, strategy, budgets, and the effects of gender and race on their experiences as leaders. And they share what they wish they’d known ten years ago.

There may be a second panel on Sunday. I’m still waiting to hear back on that one.

Welcome to CoNZealand Fringe

As promised, here’s details of the other thing I am doing for Worldcon. This year it has a Fringe. This is not organised by CoNZealand itself. Rather there is a bunch of European fans who offered to put on something in our daytime.

I got involved with this because I am very keen on developing online conventions so that we can make Worldcon truly international. I totally understand why CoNZealand isn’t doing 24-hour programming, but if people can help them do that then why not? Also Claire Rousseau, who is one of the organisers, has a lot of experience of streaming and has introduced us to some software I wish I had known about before I did the One25 fundraiser.

I gather than there has been some fulminating on File 770 about how WSFS and CoNZealand are going to sue us into oblivion for violating their trademarks. Kevin and I have had a good laugh about this. And given that the Fringe team have been in regular contact with CoNZealand’s programming team, I don’t expect Norm & Kelly to be upset either.

Anyway, the panel I am definitely doing is on sensitivity reading. That’s on Sunday at 3-4am NZST (next day); 4-5pm BST; 11am-12pm EDT; 8-9am PDT, with Mike Carey, iori Kusano, Yvonne Lin, Corinne Duyvis. I think that will be great.

I am also currently down for a panel on awards, but I will probably be making way for a PoC panelist because we are trying hard to have really diverse programming.

The full list of panels is here. Please note that panel line-ups may change.

Coming on Thursday, Museum From Home

My good friend Dan Vo has been entertaining people during Lockdown by hosting a daily Twitter video called Museum From Home. Each day he has a different guest to talk about something museum-related, and probably queer. Today he put out this tweet.

So that’s the cat out of the bag, so to speak. On Thursday I will be Dan’s guest. Despite the emoji he used for me, I will not be talking about Amazons (though I might another day if he’ll have me back). I will be talking about trans Romans. I should note that the show will come with a whole host of content warnings because the Romans were horrible, horrible people by our standards. But if you managed to sit through I, Clavdivs then you should be OK on Thursday as well.

A February Heads Up

My speaking schedule for February is starting to firm up, and a number of events are starting to post their programmes. I’ll do a full schedule later in the month, but I did want to share one thing with you. It is this.

Yes, that is me giving a talk at The Shakespeare Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon. How cool is that?

The description is a little weird. I’m sure that’s not what I submitted to Schools Out. But the talk is about a play. It is a play by Byron, not by Shakespeare. And the story involves Ashurbanipal and Romans and Byron’s alleged bisexuality. It should be fun.

By the way, if you are coming to the Historical Fiction Research Network conference in Salzburg later in the month then you will get the academic version of this talk which will be more about sources and translations, and probably a little less about Byron’s sex life.

Up On the Aqueduct

It is that time of year again. My review of the year post has gone up on the Aqueduct Press blog. There are already lots of other fine entries to the 2019 series, and doubtless many more to follow.

I need to apologise to Kate Heartfield because I totally forgot about her Alice Payne novellas when writing that post. However, I have now read Alice Payne Rides, so that will be reviewed in the next Salon Futura.

I still haven’t got to see Frozen 2. Maybe tomorrow.

February: Women in SF&F in Bristol

Normally in February I am rushing around the country doing LGBT History stuff. Next year, however, I will also be doing a panel on Women in SF&F at Foyles in Bristol (assuming that no apocalyptic events have destroyed Cabot Circus in the meantime, as tends to happen with great frequency in books by local writers). This event is the brainchild of Kate Macdonald from Handheld Press, and is going to be part of the Bristol Women’s Literature Festival. I am hugely honoured to be asked to feature alongside three brilliant local writers: Liz Williams, Emma Newman and Emma Geen.

It is a paid event, which I’m making no apologies for because the number of times I have turned up for a sold out free event and fewer than half the number of people who have booked have turned up is ridculous. You can get a ticket, and learn more about the event, here.

I am very much hoping that Ian Whates will manage to get some copies of Liz’s new novel, Comet Weather, to us for sale.

We Were Proud

Last week saw the 4th anniversary of Trans Pride South West (TPSW), our local celebration of trans pride which sprang from Sarah Savage’s visit to our LGBT History Month event in 2016. I’m not involved in the running of it, but I do get involved in various parts of it.

This year, for the first time, we had a march. That began with a gathering on College Green in front of City Hall, and that meant speeches. We had some political representation. Carla Denyer, the Green Party candidate for Bristol West, was there. She was accompanied by a bunch of young party members, and by Baroness Bennett, so the Greens really put some effort behind us. The Liberal Democrats sent along James Cox who had kindly stood down in Bristol West in order to give Carla a better chance of getting elected. Sadly there was no official representation from Bristol Labour, though Kaz Self from the TPSW committee did make a speech on their behalf. There was also a representative from the Women’s Equality Party, which was of course me. So yes, I did make a speech. No one laughed, except when I wanted them to, which I am taking as a win.

From there we marched up Baldwin Street towards the city centre. We had space in The Station, a former fire station on Silver Street for a Community Day. There were just under 200 people (and three dogs) on the march, which was very good for a cold and wet November morning. I was very pleased to count at least 16 people of colour among us.

The Community Day had a lot of stalls. I was representing OutStories Bristol. The photo above shows me at my stall along with Spencer from TPSW and Alex from the hate crime charity, SARI. The Diversity Trust also had a stall. The event was very well attended. Indeed, around 13:00 you could barely move in the room. I think the committee might need to look for a bigger venue next year.

I was somewhat worried that there might be some attempt by right-wing groups to disrupt the march, but everything went off very smoothly. Clearly the anti-trans fauxminists are easily put off by a little rain.

I had to rush off immediately after the event ended as I was giving a talk in Brighton on the Sunday, so I didn’t get to chat to people at thing were winding down, but I’m very happy with how things went and I’m looking forward to TPSW being bigger and better next year.

Queer (Romans) in Brighton

Here’s something I am doing this weekend, which I didn’t tell you about earlier because by the time I got the details it had sold out. Which is very pleasing.

Anyway, immediately I finish at Trans Pride in Bristol on Saturday I will be on a train to Brighton. It is a mad schedule, but Sunday morning trains are crap and I need to go on Saturday to make sure I get there in time.

On the Sunday afternoon I will be at Brighton Museum for their monthly Queen in Brighton LGBTQ+ History Club. I will be talking about being trans and intersex in Ancient Rome. There will be gender reassignment surgery; there will be gossip about the Imperial Family; there will be stand up philosopher contests; and being the Romans it will all be a bit gruesome.

What have the Romans done for us? They invented the dick pic.

If you want to know more, and be sad that you can’t get a ticket, the booking page is here.

Inventing the Future

Yesterday evening I was a guest panelist at an event in the Bristol Technology Festival. It was called Invented Futures, and it was all about how we use technology to, you guessed it, invent the future. Obviously I was there a the science fiction expert, but the rest of the crew covered a wide range of technological innovation.

Julia Scott-Stevenson from UWE is an expert in Virtual Reality. She’s involed in the i_Docs project (immersive documentaries), and she has also written a manifesto on how immersive experiences can be used for good.

Coral Manton from Bath Spa University works with computer games (and therefore has one of the best jobs in the world). She is also one of the people behind a fascinating project called Women Reclaiming AI, which seeks to create a digital assistant made by women (as opposed to an artificial woman made by men).

Pete Bennett from the University of Bristol has a variety of creative projects including Digitally Enhanced Lego, and making games for the gorillas at Bristol Zoo.

Also I shouldn’t forget our moderator, Maria Leonard, who is the brains behind Death.io, which helps people manage their departure in the digital world. (Did you know that you can leave your Farcebook account to a friend to manage after you die? I didn’t.)

I saw my job as talking about as many great books as possible, and it was slightly disturbing to realise that many of the people in the room only consumed science fiction through TV and movies. Consequently they were completely unaware of the changes that have happened in the field over the past decade. I asked the audience to guess how many of the fiction writing awards it this year’s Hugos had gone to women. It took quite a while for someone to twig that the correct answer was, “all of them”, and this despite the fact that the audience was majority female.

I mentioned as many books as I could. Even so, I couldn’t get in every one I wanted. So here is a reading list.

Books by Bristol writers that address issues with the current digital world:

  • Everything About You by Heather Child
  • After Atlas by Emma Newman
  • Infinite Detail by Tim Maughan

Books about AIs and artificial beings:

  • Autonomous by Analee Newitz
  • The Murderbot Diaries by Martha Wells
  • Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie
  • vN and iD by Madeline Ashby
  • Silently and Very Fast by Catherynne M Valente
  • The Stone Canal by Ken MacLeod
  • Saturn’s Children by Charles Stross

Other books about digital worlds:

  • Singularity Sky by Charles Stross
  • Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  • Lady of Mazes by Karl Schroeder
  • Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Ann Goonan

Julia recommended the anthology, Women Invent the Future.

If anyone has any additional suggestions please add them in comments. But let’s it keep it to fairly recent books, OK? There’s no need to suggest Asimov’s robot novels, or Do Androids Dream Electric Sheep.

FantasyCon – Days 2 & 3

I guess I have been busy. The Dealers’ Room was quite quiet, but I sold some books. Also my panels and workshop went well. I live-tweeted the awards. Juliet did not win, but my pals at Breaking the Glass Slipper and GV Anderson did, so I’m very happy.

I’d like to say a special hello to The Portal Bookshop who were in the Dealers’ Room here and will be opening for business in York next week. If you happen to be in or near York, please do give them some custom. Not only are they a specialist SF&F dealer, but they have a particular interest in books with queer and other marginalised characters. They are, as far as I know, the only bookstore in the UK that is currently willing to stock Wizard’s Tower books.

I will do a proper con report in the next Salon Futura.

Now I could do with some sleep.

FantasyCon – Day 1

Hello from Glasgow. I arrived here late yesterday afternoon and have done nothing much except socialise since I got here. The hotel is modern, comfortable and spacious. The restaurant is good and the bar is cheap. Programme, what programme?

Actually I did attend one item. The lovely people at Handheld Press are re-publishing Vonda McIntyre’s debut novel, The Exile Waiting. It is set in the same world as her Hugo-winning Dreamsnake. Well worth a look.