Lately, I keep having the same conversation with other trans artists and activists who were around in the early 2000s. I always tell them that their work inspired me and helped me to see trans life in all its complexity and weirdness—and often, they reply that they feel like their stuff has aged badly, or the terms of the debate have changed, or trans culture has moved on. The art they were making back then feels dated, or actually wrong or harmful, when you look at it now.
Our framework for thinking about trans identity has changed, and trans discourse has moved on in the past two decades, and that’s a very good thing. In many ways, we were ignorant back then and we hope we’ve learned better. And we’re so grateful for younger people who have been redefining what it means to be trans, non-binary, genderqueer and/or gender-nonconforming.
I feel this more keenly than most. I wrote tons and tons of trans fiction and personal essays and political essays, throughout most of George W. Bush’s presidency. I won a Lambda Literary Award for transgender writing, even.