We Are Universal mural, Kah Yangni

Introducing Brevity’s latest special issue, which also happens to be its 75th, featuring brilliant new writing by Lee Anderson, Nic Anstett, Kay Ulanday Barrett, KB Brookins, Rivka Clifton, Mac Crane, Atlas Desmond, Melissa Faliveno, Eric LeMay, Katherine Scott Nelson, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore and Ocean Wei. Each piece is accompanied by gorgeous visual work by artist Kah Yangni of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, whose vibrant art showcases the beauty of queer joy and efflorescence, the bright spirit of trans resiliency and resistance.

These 12 brief essays touch on myriad facets of what it means and how it feels to be transgender, gender-nonconforming, and/or gender-expansive. Trans experience is not a monolith, but rather a collective, each story a prism containing shared truths filtered through an individual lens. The essays contain themes like becoming and belonging, coming out and pushing through. The limitations of the gender binary, and the freedoms inherent in embracing liminality. They examine what our hobbies and rituals say about the people we are, whether we’re crushing it on the basketball court, learning to play a synthesizer, preparing a favorite pasta dish with a loved one, or taking a late-night walk through an imperfect city. They ask bold, sometimes unanswerable questions about identity: how to approach transmasculine motherhood, how to build queer communities with limited resources, how to navigate the lurking omnipresence of transphobia in daily life. But there is so much warmth here, too: in reconnecting with ancestors, and in rebuilding bridges with family once thought irreparable. In asking someone to break you before the world can, and in loving your body in all its imperfection as it ages. These 12 powerful essays reckon with who we are and where we’ve been, and we at Brevity are so excited to share them with you.

Our craft section features two essays by our special issue guest editors, Krys Malcolm Belc and Silas Hansen, about the importance of taking up space in a world that so often minimizes trans perspectives, and the ways being “bad” can be beautiful, can make us and our stories whole.

A shoutout to the other members of Brevity’s special issue editorial team, who reviewed the many incredible submissions we received with nuance, warmth, and care: Michelle Tamara Cutler, Taylor Grothe, Jake Jacobs, R. Lee, Susan Lerner, Em Sapp, and Angelique Tung.

Finally, thank you for reading, and we hope you enjoy this special issue!

Zoë Bossiere
Brevity Managing Editor 2024