When I was a small person who read nearly everything, my cousin gave me a handful of hand-me-down fantasy paperbacks. Three of these were the start to David Eddings’ The Belgariad, a fantasy epic that in retrospect sparked my ongoing love for secondary characters.

And one was Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonsong.

I came into Pern by way of Half-Circle Seahold and Menolly the Harper-to-be. My first dragons were her nine singing fire lizards. Menolly left the harsh constraints of home when her father beat her for composing music. She immediately imprinted on a clutch of tiny dragon eggs, foraged and hunted for herself and her beasts until the Ninth Fall caught her outside. Her story ran parallel to the main Pern trilogy, filling in the gaps to a greater epic. (Secondary characters. They’re my favorites.)

Menolly named her gold fire lizard Beauty, an apt enough name but not one I wanted for my draconic gold binder. I went with Faranth, leader of the first clutch to defend Pern’s human colonies from the Fall. (Distant sci-fi backstories being another weakness of mine.)

I wish, I wish Pern fandom had been allowed to flourish. Like Menolly, fandom ached to create, created brilliant things in spite of all the restrictions set around it, and was beaten down in turn. McCaffrey was desperate for a film deal, and she and her publishers were convinced that derivative works would set a fatal precedent for the story to be taken from her. She had an active legal team which sent C&D letters to fanartists and fanfic authors for decades, had fan websites shut down, and enforced a series of draconian (ha) content rules on the few that were allowed to survive.

Like her fictional society, McCaffrey was also heavily and violently invested in strict gender roles. Straight women to gold and green dragons. Straight men to bronze and brown. Gay men to blue. Lesbians do not exist. Bisexuality is not real. These were not only canon standards; she explicitly forbade fanworks that transgressed any of these rules. Her lawyers enforced these on the fans - literal children, in many cases - who most needed an outlet for gender nonconforming fiction. 

(If any trans character made it into fanwork, that fan creator hid it well. There was never even an explicit prohibition.)

Queer fandom will never forgive McCaffrey for this. We’re all older now, and we remember.

The Faranth binder is a gold dragon for transmasculine people. It is at once a salute to an old fandom full of dragonlore where many talented creators began, and a middle finger to the canon where we did not exist.

If the McCaffrey estate comes after me for this, I’m renaming it Mokhachane.
via Women Are Facing a Devastating Medical Crisis—and No One's Talking About It:



Bamby Salcedo describes the past month of her life in one word: “devastation.” It was late August when the activist and community organizer first learned about the ongoing injectable estrogen shortage in the United States, which has been gradually impacting the lives of transgender women and transfeminine people like herself for over a year now. As the nation’s supply dries up, trans people who rely on injectable estrogen are panicking.

“Members of the community are not finding out” about the shortage, Salcedo told me. “I don’t think many service providers even know about it. I still have not received notice from a doctor.” In fact, if it weren’t for an acquaintance who works at the clinic she goes to, Salcedo, who founded the Los Angeles-based TransLatin@ Coalition in 2009 to advocate for the needs of trans Latinx immigrants in the U.S., might still be in the dark about the status of her medication, which she described as “life-saving.”

Synthetic estrogen plays a crucial role for trans women and transfeminine people who choose to undergo hormone replacement therapy as a means of medically transitioning. Yet the growing disappearance of its injectable form from the pharmaceutical market has gone largely unnoticed beyond the circles of those affected. Salcedo said that she has “not seen any” media coverage of the shortage, despite the subject’s constant presence on her various social media feeds. That’s not surprising. In the eight weeks since Out magazine’s website broke the news of the “Injectable Estrogen Shortage That’s Leaving Trans Women in Crisis,” very few outlets have picked up the story. This silence, Salcedo told me, must be broken.

“They would not deny a person who is diabetic their medication, right?” she asked. “Access to hormones saves lives. Not having this medication puts us in danger.”

This is critically important. Hormone access can literally be a matter of life and death; we have to keep talking about this. 

Wait, WHAT?



November 2016

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