Gender, LGBTQ, Zines

Zine Review: Not Trans Enough

Not Trans Enough: A Compilation Zine on the Erasure of Non Passing and Non Conforming Trans Identified People

Editor: Eddie Jude
Contributors: Megan Madden, Travis Alabanza, Tasha Tristan, Rhiannon Rober, Thryn Hare, Janae Shepherd, Amndissolved, Taylor Heywood, Maëlys Lecastor, Dani Ko Flux, Aya Mccabre, Dmitri-Coco Miller, Geoff, PAiNt, Rex Leonowicz, Rory, Clementine Morrigan, Girlie Wilson, Linette Reeman, Feral Rizvi, Lee Pepper, Dani/Liam Jones, Starkiss Creations, Aus Bahadur, Janitor Queer, M.X., Stephan Beck, A.C.D., Laurentius, Zepharius Bezemer

Not Trans Enough Zine covers. Image from the Late Bloom Zines etsy store.Not Trans Enough: A Compilation on the Erasure of Non Passing and Non Conforming Trans Identified People challenges the idea that there is a clear, static definition of trans identity. Collected by Eddie Jude, the publisher and creator behind Late Bloom Zines, this anthology zine boasts over fifty pages of content from 31 contributors, all questioning the concept of trans authenticity by sharing their individual experiences.

Dictionary definitions of “enough” contradict how we sometimes use the word. Merriam-Webster defines it as “equal to what is needed.” The Free Dictionary identifies it as meaning, “sufficient to meet a need or satisfy a desire; adequate,” and the listing in the Oxford English Dictionary similarly states, “sufficient in quantity or number.” If reaching “enough” means one’s needs are all met, how can anyone determine what is enough, except for the person in need?

Each contributor plays with, or refutes, the idea of outside parties creating a strict definition of “enough.” The uniqueness of each creator is reflected in the diversity of media in the zine: there are essays, free verse poems, sketches, portraits, and lots of spoken word poetry. Many of these pieces utilize styles that are deliberately unconventional. For example, “on femmes, fags, and the impossibility of recognition” by tasha tristan is the first essay in the zine, and, despite its formal nature, is written in all lowercase letters. The following essay, “Big, Burly and Beautiful” by Rhiannon Robear, again disrupts the traditionally formal format when Robear declares, “…fuck off with your gendered policing.” Reading this zine is an exercise in breaking all the rules of both gender norms and form, and it is incredibly satisfying.

To give you a little taste, an amuse-bouche of sorts, I’ve highlighted a few pieces that defy both style and gender restrictions.

“Body Language” by amandissolved

“Body Language” is a poem that frames a trans body as being multilingual but often incorrectly translated, or completely misunderstood. Halfway through the poem, amandissolved lists clothing items and gestures that signify stereotypical versions of femininity and masculinity. This list creates a gorgeous, complicated image that shows how supposedly conflicting, gendered symbols can combine to create a concept of gender that is unique.

“Untitled (Stop.)” by Dmitri-Coco Miller

This essay plays with grammar and capitalization to create a narrative of self-discovery that flows in a beautiful but sometimes frightening way. Sentences do not end where they normally would end, creating the feeling that the author is moving forward in an unstoppable manner. When Miller claims “No” and “the right to say Enough” as “OUR word” it is a powerful, satisfying moment marked by a series of short sentences that do end with periods. I could read “Untitled (Stop.)” endlessly and still get lost in the rhythm of Miller’s story.

Untitled by Rory
Rory's self portraits from Not Trans Enough Zine

Rory’s self portraits.

This contribution is a short essay and two self-portraits that appear side by side in the zine. Rory describes sketching trans people as a method of self-discovery; drawing was a way to trouble the viewers’ assumptions about the subjects’ gender. Both Rory’s description of finally creating self-portraits and the images that accompany the essay are jarringly powerful. I actually stopped reading the zine at this point and looked back and forth between the words and drawings, because the two pieces made me realize that self-portraiture, memoir and any medium that allows a creator to tell their own story, imbues the artist with the power to control their own narrative, and their identity. It’s a wonderful piece, one that you’ll be grateful to see with your own eyes.

Image by Zepharius Bezemer

The final piece in the zine is another self-portrait. Bezemer stares directly at the reader, and the image is accompanied by the text, “I Am Man Enough.” It is a statement of defiance aimed at people who tell Bezemer—who identifies as a feminine transgender boy—to “butch up,” but the directness of the image also challenges the reader to remember that they cannot define or quantify another person’s identity.

While the zine ends on a defiant note, the honest and personal nature of each of these pieces speaks to the safety they felt in contributing to the zine. Zine culture is not perfect, but publications like Not Trans Enough are strong reminders that it is largely a culture that gives voice to creators who are silenced by mainstream publishing. It’s exciting to read a hefty anthology with this atmosphere of acceptance and safety in mind.

You can purchase a copy of Not Trans Enough—and pick the color of the cover, mine is bright green!—at Late Bloom Zine’s etsy shop. Learn more about the zine and keep up with Late Bloom’s shenanigans at the Not Trans Enough tumblr.