Heart, Amy, Larissa Glasser, and Sugi Pyrrophyta (Editors). Resilience: Surviving in the Face of Everything. Olympia, WA: Heartspark Press, 2017.
Resilience is a breathtaking collection of poetry and prose written by (coercively) assigned male at birth trans women and nonbinary writers. With thirty-two contributors and forty pieces, this work is currently the largest published anthology of (C)AMAB writing, making it a rare and vital gem by and for the (C)AMAB trans community. Like so many works from marginalized voices, Resilience was funded by direct peer-to-peer online fundraising. The community saw this beautiful opportunity and overwhelmingly responded YES!
The book begins with a sobering reminder: the names of the trans women and (C)AMAB nonbinary people murdered in 2017, with the inscription, “In loving memory of our fallen sisters.” Transphobia, particularly against transfeminine people of color, is an ongoing source of terror and violence in the trans community. This makes the second part of the title—“surviving in the face of everything”—all the more poignant.
Trans luminary Julia Serano provides a brilliant foreword, discussing the precision of the term “resilience” over other oft-used adjectives applied to (C)AMAB trans people such as “courageous” and “brave.” Bravery suggests a choice, but for transfeminine people, any path in life is riddled with potential violence, alienation, and depression. Surviving and thriving through these challenges indicates true resilience.
Indeed, the pieces in Resilience are tied together with the common thread of authenticity and tenacity. The writers have little in common besides gender, hardship, and the ability to create beautiful words to share with their communities. I appreciated the representation of multiple identities; although many writers hail from the Pacific Northwest, where the publishing press is located, there is a diversity of voices in terms of disability, class, natal language, race, and body size.
Pieces vary by form, genre, length, topic, emotional expression, and authorly flourish. I liked some more than others, but all were interesting and valuable, and there is certainly something for everyone. Some of my favorites included a heartbreaking essay on how trans women do not experience male privilege by Amy Heart, a hilarious short story about a queer zombie orgy by Bridget Liang, and a spectacular retelling of Goldilocks from a colonizer/enslaved perspective by Lawrence Walker III.
I highly recommend this anthology for (C)AMAB trans folks searching for representation, as well as anyone who seeks a better understanding of the community’s joys and struggles. I firmly believe Resilience should be purchased by both public and academic libraries, and not just for gender studies classes: this collection has literary merit for literature courses, writing courses, and more.