Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Here I stand, I can do no other

This is the blog post that I never wanted to write, but I owe it to all genderqueer and trans* writers and readers out there. I’m hoping that my experience may serve to make the “community” a safe place for us – others like me. At present, I don’t know if the aftermath of this – action, reaction, consequence, if I understand correctly – will allow my Muse to survive. After this, I frankly don’t know if I’ll have the strength to go on writing using this name and this identity. This Self.

I’ve taken most of this from an email I sent a prominent blogger. I’ve changed names to protect the innocent and the guilty both.


The Call

I could quite literally write a book about my experiences and my thoughts on the matter. If something almost kills you, it's bound to provoke some Heavy Thinking. So apologies as this is going to be long.

I did not want to get involved in this at all. I've been "outed" several times on the internet. A former co-writer of mine who's seen me in RL has repeatedly outed me. I have been referred to on the internet as "one vicious tranny". A gay guy I've met in my London-based writing group has only recently outed me to a violently hateful group, then added smugly that he was now going home to "have real gay sex".

These experiences are rather typical, I'm afraid. It's why I only meet people in person as a writer who I trust to not go out there and tell the world who I "really" am (as we can see, my judgment is less than perfect - friends can turn to enemies rather more quickly than I like, especially when writers are involved).


Refusal to Heed the Call

This is not to accuse. I feel awful for first trying to stay invisible and secondly trying to ignore it, while my trans* friends were/are suffering because they are "out" about their status, while I was busy telling myself "I'm a writer, not a human rights activist".

Yeah, I guess Ezra Pound was just a poet, too.

The loss of "safe space" thanks to the rabid hate mob is probably at the core of the issue why I've put my stuff on hold. I originally bought into the myth how "tolerant" and "accepting" "our" "community" is. Well, it is, if you're gay and physically, born, genetic male. There's a worship of the cock going on I find a little disturbing.

Regardless - one thing I believe is incredibly important in this debate is to drive home - in some minds at least - the difference between "coming out" and "passing".


Crossing the First Threshold

For sexualities other than straight, "coming out" is a traumatic, cathartic rite of passage, that, yes, creates that "gay identity", which from then on is visible. I was very relieved when I realized, actually, I'm bisexual, and it’s OK to be that. I can love a person rather than a set of genitals. Being bi is, obviously, being under a "general suspicion" of cheating and being generally not trustworthy. Many lesbians tell a bisexual woman she's not "real" because she got her rocks off - even once - with a guy. Many gays call a bisexual man a "gay in denial". I do believe I never deceived anybody about my sexuality. I've gotten my rocks off with trans* people, with men and women, and it was fun every time. I'm not ashamed.

But yeah, "coming out" usually means that the enormous pressure that non-straight people live with is lifted. Wow, suddenly you float. The thing that made you consider suicide? Gone. People actually still smile at you. Some even call you brave - what a boost after you've spent most of your life cringing away and hoping that people will leave you the fuck alone, or at least not look into your head.

Now, "passing" is different. Trans* people live with this enormous pressure, but it never leaves. It's a miracle I'm alive. Between 16 and 21, I was constantly considering suicide. Then my mother died a painful, drawn-out death from cancer. And I thought "okay, throwing away a healthy, functional body is a waste and who are you to end your life when others are desperate to draw even one more breath and don't have that choice?"

Every time I considered suicide, I would remember my mother's face, just wisps of her gorgeous rich mahogany hair left, the skull visible as a herald of impending death, as she was weighing only 80 or 90 pounds. Who am I to kill myself when I'm healthy and not physically suffering?


Tests, Allies, Enemies

Then the internet. Online communities. I chose a neutral name (vashtan) and realized there's freedom in that. I've kept vashtan's gender neutral - I did not want to "deceive" anybody. Ever.

My first publications. Getting AlexANDER W. added into my German passport? HUGE rush. Unspeakable relief. The front was still lying, but the back - oh, the glorious back, the bit under "Pseudonym or Religious Name" - it finally spoke the truth. I'd become, legally, in a small part, black-on-green, Alexander W., ridding me in one fell swoop of a last name I've inherited from a wife-beating rapist father AND the wrong gender.

I was Alexander. I couldn't wait to tell everybody. The bloom rounded, tightened, seams began to appear. It was ready to burst.

I read everything about the issue. MTFs, FTMs, Intersex, intergender, trans*, genderqueer... suddenly I had words for that deep-seated unease that told me my very BONES were all wrong. Suddenly the "wow, YOU are a real man." Suddenly, all my games as a child - always the knight serving the lady, always the fighter, the bodyguard, the protector of the weak - suddenly made sense. Why even as a small child I bristled when somebody called me a "pretty girl". I wasn't. I was a boy. Imagine the heartbreak when boys at some point told me I couldn't play with them because I had long hair. I liked my long hair. I wasn't ready to give it up so I could play with the other boys. Non-conformist to the end, I guess. Boys had short hair, I refused to fit in, hence I was ousted.

Thus expelled from the boys, I tried to join the girls for company. They told me I was a boy - wild, physical, competitive. I also didn't give a toss about the current crush on some boy band. I just wanted to belong somewhere.

I didn't. I found, in the end, a bunch of outsiders who'd hang around me, because I had cool ideas and made up fun games. We were still the outsiders on the playground, but we were at least damned well entertained.


Ordeal

When my body developed, I prayed for it all to go away. I think the reason why I'm still here is largely because of one of the most powerful characters I've ever had. Silvio basically told me I was being a dumb asshole for staring at the pills in my hand and that my vertigo should at least keep me jumping from that bridge. Through all that, I've had friends (who had no idea - as far as they were concerned, I was just a bit of a tomboy), but as we've seen through things like Trevor and It Gets Better, friends sometimes aren't enough. I was a firm believer in reincarnation, but something always held me back from "trying again", as I called it back then. Reload. What's your return policy, universe?

For whatever reason, the male persona I built (or, arguably, that I am) helped me cope with the increasing pressure. Somebody calling me "Mr. Voinov" (which is just a translation of "Herr W.") takes the pressure off. It makes me smile, but there's always a tang of pain in it, too. Calling me "sir" is like if somebody tells you you're gorgeous and actually means it.

I'm coming back to "passing" now. To a trans* person, "passing" as his/her real gender is - unspeakably liberating. Suddenly, the pressure around you eases. You can BREATHE. You can even be yourself. I can't count how often I've been told I write "masculine", or even "hyper-masculine". I was told, when I started out, to write under a male pseudonym, as "the female style" is different - and women prefer books written by women, especially historicals. Or: "What woman cares about war, soldiers, or politics? They want woman issues." (Which, presumably, is about courtship, het sex, child-rearing and covering their husband's flank.) This drove me away from trying to make it in the historical mainstream - I never managed to get my head around "woman issues" - talk about biographical blocks.


Reward/Seizing the Sword

Fast forward a few years. Passing for male has quite literally enabled me to be a productive, positive member of human society. Give what I have to give - mentor, teach, give and write. I can give these because the pressure was off, the pressure keeping me contained, pressuring me into something I am emphatically NOT. If you expend all your energy fighting other people's perceptions, you have no energy left to do the important stuff, the constructive stuff.

Under such considerations, things like "I'll sell five more books if people believe I have a flesh dick dangling between my legs" aren't just laughably trivial - they don't even register. I've heard people say that they prefer women-written books to mine because "Voinov is clearly a male writer - like all of them, it's all heartless sex and violence, he just doesn't "get" romance." Some way of "passing", that! (But, hell, I take it.)

The thing is, tearing our protection away - negating our "passing" - is as traumatic as if a jeering mob out on the street were ripping your clothes off to laugh at the shape of your breasts or labia or dick and balls. I can't possibly express the amount of distress that my trans* writer friends have felt over the mob's desire to rip their clothes off. As far as I'm concerned, I have bigger balls and a bigger dick than a huge amount of born and bred males.

My sense of honour and personal integrity made me step up in defense of my trans* friends, most of whom have been bullied into submission and are scared of being made a target next. We'll all been there before. Most gay guys consider us women (I've heard some of the most vile, trans* phobic comments from gay men) – most women consider us women and do everything in their power to help society re-assert the gender binary. (Those are generalizations - I've encountered a lot of extremely supportive women of all stripes.)

While most gay men laugh us off as "not real men" (like I have to assert my masculinity to every gay man out there - even those I don't want to sleep with!), many women are truly vicious - "how dare she!"

I've always held the belief that the female hostility to trans* people is really a loathing of the traditional female role. Tearing our clothes off in public is a way to act against the "unlawful claiming of a more liberated gender". Men ARE more powerful in this society, and trans* men are seen as those refusing the female gender (while, in actuality, we're not refusing anything - it's not what we are and most of us feel an extreme disconnect to any perceived female role). We're damaged, freaks, deficient. Worse, we're cheaters, liars, impostors. We're claiming the "male privilege" not to be belittled, and maybe we even end up wielding power and authority and have respect. Yeah, how DARE we.

Some of us shrink away under the onslaught of hostility and pressure, cringing. So at war with ourselves, few of us are strong enough to fight against ourselves AND against the rest of the world. ONE of those battles is plenty.

Every time a specific prominent blogger attempts to out the most high-profile male-representing author in our genre, I want to rip her head off. Has nobody ever considered that this writer is actually who he says he is? Or would the fact that he's a prominent, visible, highly successful - and much-loved - writer in the genre have anything to do with it? The message to us trans* writers is, very much: Don't stick your head out, or we'll chop it off. Beyond a certain level of success, people are envious enough to jump on anything that makes a person vulnerable.


The Road Back

Frankly, I knew that launching Riptide would potentially "blow my cover". Who on earth is interested in trans* literature but a trans* person - and who at Riptide is clearly NOT a female? The fact that I'm being represented by an avatar, the fact that I'm not answering questions about my gender (and many tried asking them, which tells me it's something people feel they have a right to know about in detail) or what I think about women writing gay sex, or whether I get turned on when writing sex (yeah, sweetheart, want the number of inches too?) - all that immediately sparks suspicion.

The more visible I am - the more interviews I've given - the more that old pressure has come back. I've been told I'm too "soft", or "too gentle", or "too understanding", (or "too nice/generous") that a specific turn of phrase is feminine - up to my use of emoticons. People are scrutinizing everything I do - on Twitter, Facebook, there were people even re-posting blog entries from LJ that I've locked away to be only seen by friends. The pressure was mounting. Clearly, being anything but female draws suspicion, but I refused to be driven into neurosis by it. I am who I am, who I say I am.

The whole debate never considered the trans* issue. Just look at the words used: It was always "women parading as men", "women appropriating gay identities for gain and profit" or "women lying/cheating because they are sociopathic liars". It's like you're walking out in the streets, and suddenly, everybody's clothes are being ripped off and the crowd inspects us, naked, whether we pass. The border controls in the US are so intrusive that many US-based trans* people have stopped travelling. *I* am not going to fly to the US because I don't want some guy give me a body cavity search. The trans* body is more delicate, more complicated and a hell of a lot more fragile, even if you're built like an American Football player.

But while the debate went that way, us trans* writers were incapable of stopping it. Everybody speaking out on behalf of trans* writers knew that they would have their identity questioned. I was incredibly reluctant, because not only did I do a good job of "passing", but because I never saw myself as an activist for anything (I believe most of society's ills would go away if people were holding themselves to higher moral standards and realize that serving others means serving yourself).


Death

Basically, I didn't want to open myself up to the trans* phobia out there - I didn't want my gay friends to suddenly consider me as a "transman", which always means "not real man" (talk about worship of the cock) - always. Once that "trans* is attached, it conjures up images of a more or less believably mutilated female body, a more or less healthy mind inhabiting it. By being "trans", we're "less". Less strong, less healthy, less male or female. From "male" or "female", we turn into "not quite" and "less" in society’s perception.

I also didn't want to speak on behalf of trans* writers. We're still all individuals, and while I know at least, off the top of my head, 7-8 genderqueer/trans* writers – and boy, their talent, how much they have to give this community that hounds them so! - I'd never claim any kind of leadership here.

Basically, I was “passing” and working behind the scenes. Every trans* writer out there knows my status. I've encouraged writers to write and share their stories (rather than lock them away for fear of BEING VISIBLE and hence VULNERABLE), telling them the community was "safe"; people were "different here". Oh hell, was I wrong, and as the lynch mob of the M/M Goodreads Group and a number of bloggers and HUNDREDS of bigoted commentators descended upon us, my heart bled for my friends who went out there and fought or hid under the same old stone of crushing guilt and self-doubt.

It's not that we don't want to be "out" - I admire both Danny Juris and Bryl Tyne for the way they go out there and represent. My choice was different. I worked behind the scenes, working subtly, helping trans* people (you start to recognize them after a while, it's like gaydar, also, I'm really good at reading people), supporting my brothers and sisters, while still "passing" as male to a society and community I simply didn't trust to "get" it. Get me (yeah, and tell me I was wrong… I was not).

I simply refused to write emails or blog posts like this one I'm writing right now to every person out there emailing me who’d doubted what I told them. Doubted my integrity over the use of a pronoun – a use that has kept me sane and productive. This is stuff I almost killed myself over – I don't believe somebody paying 3-7 bucks for any given story I've written deserves to know all this or has a right to it, let alone a moral right in the interest of "customer transparency", as the moderators of the M/M Goodreads Group have claimed, to wild cheering and shows of support.

I believe that the exact geography of my genitals is my – very personal - privacy issue. Once you tell people you're trans*, the next question is about when you'll have the operation. My body then suddenly turns into the gore-encrusted battlefield of somebody else's gender perceptions, like it’s not my body at all, like I no longer have any power over it, and can’t be trusted to shape it when and how I want.

At the end of the day, a trans* person is only seen as valid once their bodies conform to what cisgendered people consider acceptably male or female. If you're not having the operation (because the attempt to make a dick always results in something that most trans* men consider laughably inadequate, let alone somewhat gross-looking) - you're not valid. At the very least, people want to know whether I've started testosterone yet. Which is a question like "do you still beat your wife" - once you step onto that battlefield, you can only lose.

I chose to act as I did not to deceive anybody. I did it to find a way to live in dignity. To not spend most of my time and energy fighting a battle I cannot win. You know, because every hour I spend begging for acceptance - from very often bigoted assholes - is an hour I don't spend writing.

I chose to live as a man over explaining - for the rest of my life - why people should please, please PLEASE "allow" me to be a man, if you please, if it's not too much of an imposition, if that's OK with you, sorry to disturb your ideas of male and female a little, there. There, there, let me be invisible instead so nobody gets their assumptions challenged.

Fuck that.

I'm a proud man, I've fought and worked extremely hard for what I have achieved. I'm not used to asking anybody for their leave to be what I am. I try to act as an ethical person, supporting my male, female, trans* and queer friends, writers or not. My mother taught me to live my life in a way that I can look at myself in the mirror in the morning, every morning. Whether I look in that mirror while shaving should be irrelevant.

I'm not ashamed of myself, or my friends. I don't believe I owe anybody anything. No born and bred male - or what I call "genetic male" - has to explain why he's a man. And no woman has to explain why she's female. It's just us who are questioned, exposed and harassed the moment we show one weakness, and people react shocked and have the BALLS to be OUTRAGED when we, like a hermit crab, desperately scamper to protect our soft bellies?

I've received so many emails - before I made the blog post – about "who or what are you really"? My policy has always been, if somebody asks me, personally, in private, what I am, I do the "bees and flowers" talk. Not because I don't want to lie, but because I believe people that are actually asking might actually want to know. And I have the hope that once everybody knows at least one trans* person, they will stop harassing the others.

Maybe it's time for the T in the alphabet soup to fight for our rights, but maybe it's clearer now why we don't. It's tearing away our passing, it questions the identity we fought so hard - often against physical violence, harassment, bullying, depression, addiction and all-round derision from men and women both - to build and maintain, as we have to, to have even a shot at sanity and happiness.

I've been tempted so often to tell those people "if you need to know the shape of my genitals, you are not my friend". Which is an, I believe, understandable response, but it's also really defensive.

I don't like hurting people like that. I *still* DON'T WANT TO HURT PEOPLE THAT HURT ME, can you imagine?

Sorry for the long, long, LONG diatribe - I want to make sure everybody understands where I'm coming from, my position, my experiences that obviously shape everything I am and how I respond to the threats to my identity. I've never seen myself as an activist or a figurehead.

I've received an email - from a gay guy - telling me "to come out and be done with it". He felt that my refusal to "come out" was the ONLY thing that drove me out of the genre and this way he wouldn’t be robbed of my stories. There it is - a gay guy who mistakes the roles and energies at work in "coming out" and "passing".

No, it's the prospect of being paraded naked in front of the jeering mob. No catharsis for me. No happy rainbow-flag waving gay family to welcome us. No gay identity to claim for us. All we can claim is visible, exposed, naked, soul-crushing Freakhood.

For me, "coming out" is the closest thing to destruction I've come in six years, after I stumbled, blind with tears (and I never cry), away from the London-based trans*men meeting, and considered whether I should just end it all under the Tube train on the way home. Boy, was that tempting.


Resurrection?

I'm still not sure how I should - need to - respond to it all. Do we trans* writers NEED a figurehead? Do I owe anybody to come out as a deficient male? Do I have to turn myself into a martyr for the baying mob, just because I'm writing some sexy, plotty stories about how people survive adversity and find love and redemption?

Do I owe it? Do I want to read a hundred comments pouring down the hatred of me and my kind when Dear Author posts "Aleksandr Voinov Comes Out as Trans Writer" [Please, Dear Author people, don’t use the word “she” or “her” when you do. Just this, please?]; do I deserve to be counted among those who are “Faking It” to quote the title of a blog post on Jesse Wave’s m/m review blog? Do I?

I'm not a Trans Writer. I'm somebody who, barely, survived the journey to be male, with most of my dignity intact. I have toughened myself up enough to not flinch anymore at "vicious tranny". Like a young guy who hears "faggot" the first time, "tranny" makes me flinch. But if you keep hearing it, you stop flinching. The vicious thing about such words is that it takes a lot of flinching before you can embrace a word like that.

I don't want to fight. I don't want to spend the next years - or even the rest of my life - explaining over and over why I'm a man and not a defunct female, why I'm a man, not an impostor.

But there are kids in my community – in my true community, my true family. One little guy from Finland whose blog posts (I see them on LJ) are all about how he can't stop vomiting from the stress the community is under. Somebody who clawed his way back to sanity and has repeated told me I’m an “inspiration” and he loves me. Do I owe it to Oleg to "come out"? Should I take the barbs and arrows and poison? Should I, being strong and dignified and, as yet, unbroken, step forward BECAUSE I am strong? Do I owe people a chance to break me, in public, humiliate me and deride my writing as that of an impostor? How many emails will I get that express people's disappointment in my "deceit"? Do I stand even a remote chance to explain all this while keeping my honour and dignity intact?

Those are the main questions right now.

And now that I’ve done it on my blog, will I flinch at "vicious, deceitful tranny" comments or can I take it, chin held high?

And once it's over, can I still open a vein and WRITE FOR THOSE PEOPLE, keep telling that same story of hope and love triumphing over darkness? Can I? Am I strong enough?

And there I thought I could just write stories and entertain people. Tell them about hope, and love, and the amazing resilience of the human spirit. (And people are shocked I might tell those stories to an audience that will not tear me apart for what I am. Silly me, what am I thinking, withholding my only gift and talent from people spending a couple dollars while at the same time feeling entitled to know whether I have ovaries and what exactly I do in bed with my freak body.)

Bottom line - I hope the whole, sordid, undignified, toxic mess has at least led to some people questioning their assumptions about my tribe, my people, my friends and made the world on the whole less hostile for them. But me, I remain here, deeply conflicted. Is this worth the destruction of my identity?

And, will I ever reclaim enough of my dignity to write again with confidence and grace?

Will I?

79 comments:

  1. You didn't have to do this, Aleks, but I applaud your bravery and I thank you for it from the bottom of my heart. Fuck THE world! Fuck the bitches, the fakers, and haters, those who lied or pressured you or emailed continually (and don't tell me they didn't--I KNOW). You owe them NOTHING. Send them my way next time.

    Statements such as these:

    "To a trans* person, "passing" as his/her real gender is - unspeakably liberating. Suddenly, the pressure around you eases. You can BREATHE. You can even be yourself."

    AND

    "I chose to live as a man over explaining - for the rest of my life - why people should please, please PLEASE "allow" me to be a man, if you please, if it's not too much of an imposition, if that's OK with you, sorry to disturb your ideas of male and female a little, there."

    ...are EXACTLY WHY we hide and cower and actually think about how much easier it all might be if we just hadn't been born. (And with that, I've said more about myself than I wanted to share in public).

    But damn it all. I can't tell you how much your post means to me on a level that is much too deep to put into words.

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  3. I don't know, Tracy... (without hijacking Alek's blog) I just want to say one thing: that I don't personally mind androgyny. In fact, I find it quite interesting. I have always been a firm believer that people can be who they want, do what they want as long as it doesn't break any laws, hurt anybody, or hurt themselves. To each his own.

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  4. Aleks, I can't even imagine what you must have been going through as you wrote this blog post. My heart goes out to you and I respect you so much for articulating yourself in such an honest fashion. As an avid reader of your m/m works, I am saddened on a visceral level by your leaving the genre. As someone who thinks that intolerance regarding gender issues is complete bullshit, I applaud and understand your decision. I am sickened by all of the hate that has been going around, and I find it even more disturbing since it came so quickly on the heels of GRL, which for the most part, was such a supportive environment for the community.

    My heart goes out to you during all of this insanity. I hope that we find that so many of the people who turned into the mob will eventually regret their behavior. I find it so galling that so many who are writing and reading in the genre can be so horrific to others who do not fit into perfectly defined categories.

    I personally do not care about the gender or sexuality of the authors I read; I care about whether or not they have the talent to take me on an exciting journey through their world. You have always done that exceedingly well, and I thank you for your talent and integrity. I look forward to reading your future works, no matter the genre. Be strong, and I wish you the best going forward.

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  5. Aleks,

    I just want to let you know how much I admire you for posting this. As others have said, you didn't HAVE to do it. The decision to go out there and, like you say, 'tear your clothes off' took enormous courage. And not just because the haters will now be after you as well (that alone is enough to stop most from doing it), but because you gave up who you are, who you had fought so hard to be.

    The man who, as far as I am concerned, you will always continue to be.

    Nobody can understand the depth of that sacrifice who hasn't been in that situation or who hasn't struggled with the issues trans* people struggle with every single day. Or can they? I still believe people with empathy and a willingness to listen COULD understand it, if they weren't so caught up in the gender roles and perceptions most of ths planet's cultures instill in their young. But it will take a lot of work for us to get there!

    I cannnot help but hope that your stand will help make it better for others. I know, I am an eternal optimist, not just in my writing. I hope it will help explain things to those who do not understand that 'passing' (which inlcudes taking a male pseudonym!!!) isn't deceit, it is fighting to be seen by others as you see yourself. It is about finally being yourself, out in the open, and being able to breathe.

    I hate that you had to destroy your identity to be able to send this message. I hope it will be heard and will do some good. Please know that I will support you, the 'real' you, all the way!

    Hugs,
    Serena

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  6. Aleks, I'm so moved by this post, that I'm going to express myself very poorly, so apologies for that.

    The only 'labels' I think of regarding you after reading this post are, 'honorable,' 'intelligent,' 'brave' and 'human.' The rest is none of my business, though I fully support you.

    I can see why you'd need a break from it all, but your voice continue to be an important one in this community (yes, I'm being selfish here, because I enjoy your writing), and though I normally wouldn't speak for anyone else, I truly believe that for many, many people, that's all that matters.

    I didn't need to know this, and it changes nothing about who you are as a person and as a writer. I am so taken with your bravery and honesty, and hope that there is healing for you from this. But I can appreciate that you need a break from this tornado, and hope you take care of yourself.

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  7. Aleks I think you are an inspiration and I agree you didn't have to do this. You could have left quietly. I think your actions do/will make a difference as those before you have even if just to a few. You have made a difference to me.

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  8. Aleks, I don't even truly know what to say. No, you didn't have to write this, but I feel so horrible thanking you for doing so, because you articulated what I could not when I was told that I wasn't being "attacked" but that I seemed almost "contradictory" and that they had the "right" to "question" me. I had Bryl and DC there to take me in their arms as I cried at GRL and were it not for them and other authors and readers who refuse to see me as anything BUT a man, I think that they're "questioning" would have driven me back to attempting suicide again.

    They don't think about the fact that they aren't entitled to know anything but if an author can write well, until the author damages their integrity by willfully deceiving others and slandering their fellow writers. But being "trans" is not a deceit. You, I and others identify as the gender we were meant to be born with. You are a man. A REAL man. Regardless of those who try to make you feel otherwise.

    You are courageous and while I didn't need this blog to know how awesome and brave and full of integrity I found you, I'm still so grateful for you writing this. It has just reinforced my admiration of you.

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  9. You are my fucking hero. I meant it when I told you this morning, I hope to be 1/2 as awesome as you someday. I love you so hard, there aren't words to accurately express it.

    I know I already told you that, but... I wanted to add my voice here too.

    And please. I don't ever want to see the words deficit or defunct or any of those other fucking words used anywhere near you or your name. Not by you or anyone else. Ever. You are so very much not that. Not in any way. You are the most amazing man I've ever met in all of my life. I have to shut the fuck up now, before I explode any more and make a total claymore fool of myself.

    *biggest hug in the whole wide world*

    You rock my fucking socks.

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  10. Aleks, you are a brave and awesome man. To do this, to rip yourself open and bleed all over this page in an attempt to shake people awake and make them begin to understand what real acceptance involves...I don't have words. I'm still crying.

    I've always thought you were a passionate, brilliant, caring man, but this kind of courage and willingness to open yourself up on a level that is no one else's business has me in awe. Just in awe. I know it will wake people up and perhaps make them think a little harder, a little deeper about identity and gender.

    I'm so proud that you are one of my friends. Someone who has come through all you have and who can still put his friends and his community ahead of his personal fears and desire to pass is a person I will always cherish. So much integrity and honor. I can't begin to tell you how much I admire you.

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  11. The heating in my office toilet is broken, so I had to go cry in the cold, cazzo! This whole mess left me with such a bitter taste in my mouth because as a passionate reader I think that writers just owe me their passion (and probably boxes of tissues) and nothing else.

    >I don't like hurting people like that. I *still* DON'T WANT TO HURT PEOPLE THAT HURT ME, can you imagine?

    This tells how wonderful you are.

    Un grosso bacio.

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  12. What makes biological gay men, and trans-gay men different is this. Passing.
    In my country, if you are a born gay man, you can get your relationship registered (right now politicians are trying to change it into marriage and adoption), you have lesbians and gays presenting you in the government, you can vote a gay president candidate if you want, and you can watch gay celebs dancing at the presidents ball as a couple.

    If you are trans.. Well, in order to be able to live your life properly as a trans-man, not to mention get your sex changed from F to M, you have to sign into a trans-program (organized in two cities in the whole country), and hoping you get in. Then it's the road of seeing shrinks, being tested for many mental disorders, going through surgeries they say you should go through, altering your body the way they say it has to be altered, and finally. Passing. If the society doesn't take you as a born male, then you're screwed.
    I'm not saying gays don't have it hard, they do. But so do transpeople. Not only does it rain shit from straight people, it comes from the communitys direction as well. A community, that has the letter T there.

    You don't owe anyone. If anything, I owe you a lot. You have no idea just how much that is.
    We've only known for.. what? Some years? But during that time, I've never met anyone who's more of a real man than you are.

    And as for you working in the background rather than being the voice on this matter? Come on. You know who would be still hiding somewhere without a spine if it wasn't for you, and now he's a the loudest voice in the community for trans-people, in my opinion. He's running around beating people with his verbal bat, and that would not be the case if it wasn't for you, and you know this. He's said it enough for it to go through that bullhead of yours.

    Like Amara said. You're my hero, too.

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  13. Aleks, you are one of the bravest, wonderful human being I've ever known. To go through what you've been through and come out as such as strong compassionate person... I have no words. Knowing that there are still person like you helps me restore my faith in humanity that might have been slowly chipping away. You have opened my eyes to the struggle many people who share your struggle are going through.

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  14. Mr. Voinov,

    Here I stand, in complete awe of your strength and courage. I wish words could accurately express how truly amazing I think you are. As it is, I can only say that I love you, for the words you have put to paper, for the heart that beats in your chest, and for the soul that inhabits the shell that is your body.

    As others have said, you are an inspiration, and you fucking rock my socks.

    ~xxx~

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  15. I quit Goodreads and I really do not want to interact with the people I saw there getting all up in arms because they professed pretty publicly they were so involved in who or what gender AJ was.

    I just have a hard time buying that any of it... any damn single bit of it really mattered and I still don't. AJ may have lied on his blog a million times over but no one had to give a shit and buy into it. Not a single word.

    I still say if you cannot simply read a story and either like it or not like it and even review it all you want and love it to bits or hate it with the intensity of a thousand heels but...

    Are you really showing emotional stability or maturity when you on top of that have to get all involved with the author's private life and know all the facts surrounding them?

    I have tons of authors I am friends with but I don't really care what their gender is and I really try to stay out of their private lives because I do not share my own readily.

    I care what they write and how they write, that's it and that's all. Anything more than that is rude and crossing a line.

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  16. I've told you already but I allow me to say it one more time.

    Yes, I suspected as much.
    Yes, I can finally understand why the "monkey has decided to stop dancing."

    Yes, I loved you with a passion before this post.
    Yes, I love you with a passion after this post.
    Yes, what matters to me is your work because that's how I got to know you.

    And,

    Yes, even though the "hell no" in my head is getting louder and louder, even though I feel I'm losing someone dear, someone more real than people I've spent my whole life with, I will bid farewell to you if that's what makes you happy.

    Be well.

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  17. To me you're just Aleks, and I love you.

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  18. You don't OWE anyone anything here, not the writers or the readers and definitely not the haters. What you choose to do, you CHOOSE, and I admire you for it. For the courage to say it, and even more for the courage to live it. Will reading your words help those young kids who find themselves caught in the maze between body and brain, looking for a way to make it work? Yes, I think so. Especially if you can avoid the trap of despair even now.

    "I made it and you can too," is a powerful message. Don't let a small vocal minority take that away from you, or those kids. You have made it, have succeeded, are still standing. There are more of us than you know, straight and gay as well as trans, standing behind you. Take care.

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  19. Sir, you have my utmost respect. Well, you had it before, as a writer and an expert story teller., which in itself was enough of a reason to earn it. Now, you have it as a man whose integrity and courage shine.

    Take whatever position you choose, in the forefront or the sidelines, just remember you don't stand there alone, you are not without support.

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  20. @tracykitn

    Androgyny is a term that refers to the combination of male and female characteristics. Andrej Pejic has been described as such, because of the genderbending quality of appearance, as well as repeated refusal to accept a specific label in terms of gender identity or self perception.

    I encourage you to come over to my Q&A group on GR (http://www.goodreads.com/group/show/58149.Q_A_with_Rhianon_Etzweiler) if you'd like a more in-depth explanation. There is nothing inherently wrong with androgyny. It actually encourages liberation of gender expression, and some individuals don't actually identify on either end of the gender binary. Androgynous gender-blending or gender-neutrality is the closest they get to true self expression.

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  21. ::crushes you in a fierce embrace, smothers you with kisses and shakes the stuffing out of you:: FINALLY. :-D And I mean that with the utmost respect for your decisions. Everyone does it differently, but I am always, always thrilled when someone comes out.

    I have to admit to feeling a huge amount of anger and betrayal at your "I Quit" blog. What ran through my mind as I was reading was just...over and over thinking "My God, if he'd just come out and stand by us this might be different. He's a force to be reckoned with. He's a founder of a publishing house for God's sake. If he'd just stand with us..."

    I'm of the belief that there is only one way to live: Loudly. If that means marching in a gay pride parade while wearing a feather boa and a g-string, or if it means attending "support" meetings and being a shoulder for others, or if it means just standing up and saying "I'm gay/bi/lesbian/trans/whatever."

    The reason the bigotry continues is that we allow it to. I'm sorry, but we do. We hide. We act like we have something to hide. Like we have a reason. Like all the bigots are right. "Oh, yes, I'm sorry - you're right, I'm a deficient freak. I'll go hide in the corner now so you'll be comfortable."

    FUCK THAT.

    I will not hide for someone else's comfort. I will not lie about who I am and what I am. Do I owe hateful people anything? No. But I owe others. I owe it to you, to Bryl, to Vic, to AJ, and to Oleg and everyone like US to stand up and be counted. I owe them my allegience (even if I did spell it wrong!). I don't have to like them (but I do!) or always agree with everything they've done (as in the case of AJ)but I HAVE to stand with them. Otherwise...who will?? And if I don't stand with them, then who will stand with me? If my presence can ease the way for even ONE person, then I'm obligated to put myself out there.

    I'll take the arrows. I'll take the bulletts. I'll take the words and the hate that makes me curl into a ball and want to die. I'll put myself out there in the firing line every second of ever day, and I'll get up the next day and do it all over again. Why?

    Because maybe one day someone else might not have to.

    I'm prouder of you than you can possibly fathom. I'm giddy with it. What you've done today is so massive...so wholely liberating for so many people. On a childish level, I want to run around the room, pointing at people and saying "HA! He's one of US! Didn't see that comin' didja? Huh? How do you like us NOW?"

    Of course, I won't. Mostly because doing it online just doesn't render the satisfaction of an in person smack. But also because I'm too respectful. The bigger part of me doesn't want to rub it in their faces. I just want to be. I just want US to be.

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  22. My dear sweet Aleks, You know I love YOU. I stand beside you always and proudly so. You mean more to me than I can say and this has left me with an intense wish to shout from the the rooftops that "Aleks Voinov is my friend and I'm proud of him." Big hugs, my dear. I love you!!!

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  23. I cannot begin to understand the damage from the criticism, judgment and hatefullness that has been directed towards you and others who are trans-gendered. But I believe that, for all those who have done this, there are so many, many, many more non-transgendered like me (straight and female, for example) who do not care what gender you are, but appreciate your gift of the written word and have supported your writing career by buying your books. Truly the "silent" such as myself are the majority, not the hater's who shout their judgment across the internet. Whatever decision you make for your future as writer, I hope you will keep that in mind. Ultimately, you need to do what is best for you.

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  24. Aleks, I dont know you from adam, my goodfriend from Italy told me about you and gave me your site link and I had to check it out for myself.

    I am a straight mom with 3 grown children, 3 grandchildren,and of course a hubby. I have to say that it makes me sick when people judge a writer because of his/her sex or even sexual preference. I could care less of what sex you are, I'm only interested in how good your book is and will only rate your book according to how the book flowed and if it got a reaction out of me.

    I read M-M, and M-F-M, they are my favorites. I have never read any of your books but I will make sure I do.

    Do I know what it is like to be gay or a trans, no but I have experienced sexually with both sexes and had a blast. Do I still do it, no but doesnt mean i dont fantasize about doing it again - I'm just too old and disabled to be actively involved. Am I a bad person because of it, hell no and fuck them all if they dont like who I am.

    with that said,

    always be true to yourself and never try to be somebody you are not.

    Hell, I've been acused of being like a man or a total bitch, I always tell them thank you. It's not my fault that I could kick their ass and run circles around them. LOL My balls are bigger than some men and thats just too funny since I have no balls.

    Just remember that even though those bloggers/reviewers made off topic comments about you that they are just a select few and have no affect on the rest of us. They are only a smidget of the reading crowd out there.

    Keep on writing and never stop.

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  25. There is nothing I can say that hasn't been said. Brave, proud, awe, love and strength.

    I love your unique voice, love your courage. You are who you are, and I think you're gorgeous.
    *hug*

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  26. I'm so sorry that you felt the need to "out" yourself. The whole uproar going on is really .... well I'm not good with words, I want to say crazy but somehow that diminishes everything that everyone is going through and feels. Know that to me, this ONE reader, I have never considered weather you are male or female. I read books based on what sounds good to me and sometimes on what some have to say about a book.

    Tj

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  27. I can't begin to understand how difficult this must be for you. But just so you know, you have stepped up from holding the position as my favorite author to being my hero. I'm humbled and so happy to see that the man that creates some of the strongest characters in fiction, outshine that strength by miles in reality.

    You're so brave Aleks, and you truly are an inspiration.

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  28. Alex, I was going to say I know how hard this decision must have been for you, but that would be wrong, because even though you've bared your soul we can still not experience that gut wrenching turmoil that must be going on in your mind.

    It is a harsh reality that society treats people differently based on their outward appearance whether it be beauty, perceived gender, or racial characteristics.

    Only time, teaching and meeting people who are not like us, do we learn to look past the outer skin and see the person within.

    Although our "nature" (whatever it is) is decided at birth, we are who we are based on how others/society react to us even if it is in becoming a stronger person by fighting against restrictions/attitudes/expectations that we can't accept.

    When I first "met" you (over two years ago) I asked you how, not being male, I could accurately depict how a man thought when writing male characters and you said: "Think about what, to this character, it *means* to be male. Does he have to be physically strong, competitive, loyal, and does he have a father-son conflict (Vadim), or is being male just means he'll come out on top, whatever mischief he's getting himself into (Jean)? Or is a man only complete with a wife and children (Frank)?

    What is their concept of being male? How and where do they struggle? How do they fulfil the expectations of society? Do they conform to the dominant concept of "male" or are they at odds?"

    As you said yourself, it all comes back to society's expectations and how we feel we need to fulfil them. So as soon as any individual rejects society's expectations they will have difficulty.

    I really admire you for "coming out" publicly. You came out to me privately then, and I knew from what you wrote, of the struggle you have had since, having to continually fight the restrictions and expectations that society placed on you because you were put into the "straight female" box at birth as every female is. It's only with time and learning to know yourself that you've been able to break out.

    I hope that by ripping away your outer shell and exposing yourself as rawly as you have, you will be re-clothed with the love and support of people who now know the true "you".

    Your decision to come out has certainly made my respect for you grow enormously.

    I echo DC and Bryl's comments and you should take courage from them. Because of your brilliant ability to put your heart onto the page, if you wanted to be, you would make a great spokesperson for Trans people and remind us all to judge the book not the cover.

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  29. Aleksandr,

    We all love you - I love you - for being the most amazing, the most powerful and the most incredibly inspisrational writer as well as one of the most decent and upstanding men I know.

    You always have been and always will be one of my all time favourite authors.

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  30. I would like to echo what many have already written. There just aren't enough adjectives out there- brave, strong, wonderful, fearless, - I could keep going.
    Most people have a need to put others into tidy boxes, with tidy labels. Whenever something different comes up,they make another tidy box, with another tidy label. They think that by doing so they are being progressive. But what not many seem to get is that until there is no need for tidy boxes with tidy labels, nothing will ever really change. People like you, writing what did, make a step in that direction and I applaud you for it.
    I love your writing, you are one of my favorite authors, and you are also a person that I greatly admire and am happy to know in any small way.

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  31. My heart broke when I read this. You are an amazing human being with a beautiful soul, Aleks. I can't think of anything that means more than that. I can't tell you how badly I wish I had a magic wand to make this world a better place for everyone, or that I could find that damn map to Utopia and take us all there. You are you and you are incredible and that is just the way it is and the way it should always be.

    Please know that wherever you stand, you don't stand alone.

    *big huge bearhugs*

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  32. I've said it once before, almost a year ago in one of my many stalkerific mails, and I'll say it again because it's so apt for the situation: MAŞALLAH! This time not only to your writing skills but to you as a human being: your strength, your courage, your perserverance.
    I feel awed and humbled. And sad in a way, that it had to come to this.

    I hope good will come out of it, Aleks. Don't forget that for every bigoted idiot there are many more who just don't give a rat's ass about pronouns or genitals. It's your typing fingers I care about!

    Mel

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  33. Hi Aleks

    I'm sometimes very inarticulate so will apologise beforehand if what I am trying to get across doesnt come out right.

    Noone has the right to force, coerce, or bully someone in to revealing information that is personal. It should be a personal choice what is shared and with whom.

    I would never dream of discussing my sex life with my grandmother but close friends know every detail. I dont discuss my relationships at work.

    As a writer the internet is a way for your to promote your work and 'do' (for lack of a better way of putting it) your job... Would anybody dream of asking there boss/co-workers such personal information because I dont know anyone that would. Noone has a right to demand that you speak about yourself only request that you anwser their questions about your books.

    To take the risk and put yourself out there as an author makes you incredibly brave in my eyes. To discuss your personal life takes it to a level I cant even describe.

    I am one of those people that like to interact with authors it add another dimension to the experience for me. But I dont need to know if they are male, female, married, single, divorced, a parent, a virgin, or a 'player' that is their business and will not stop me buying a book and gushing about it, if I love it.

    I am disappointed with the way that people have been treated, and ashamed that what should be an enlightened open genre obviously is not.

    I only hope that something positive comes from all this and that as people we grow from this experience

    Sarah

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  34. Aleks, I have read the email you sent me many times this morning and then I was told that you had also posted a blog about your experiences. I want to respond to your email, but also wanted to leave a comment here.

    Quite simply, Aleks, you are one of the bravest and strongest people I have been privileged to have come across.

    I know you have no desire to be an activist for trans*. Despite this, I truly believe that the sharing of your story here and the power of your thoughts and experiences will resonate throughout the m/m romance community.

    People like me, for as I told you I was one of them, need to realise that we have a binary view of trans*, gender and sexuality. Our mindset MUST be challenged so this space can be a more open and tolerant place. Ignorance is no excuse for us. Growth and learning is.

    "But me, I remain here, deeply conflicted. Is this worth the destruction of my identity?

    And, will I ever reclaim enough of my dignity to write again with confidence and grace?

    Will I?"

    Aleks, you have the deep respect and admiration of so many. I hope that you will be able to see through your hurt and doubts to the warmth and strength of those surrounding you.

    To them and to me, you are not "'just' a trans* writer", you are someone who has fought to be the amazing person you are and that is a man... who happens to like scribbling a bit. :)

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  35. Aleks,

    I'm not sure if you will accept this to be seen on your blog but that doesn't even matter to me as long as you read what I say.

    When I emailed you yesterday, it was merely in support. You will always be Mr Voinov to me. You are still one of the sexiest writers in our genre.

    I don't think you 'needed' to do this other than to get the hounds off your back. And that was all I wanted to encourage yesterday. To shake them off and go on. It doesn't matter.

    ~smooches~

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  36. I am not a writer,just a reader who likes to read EVERYTHING all genres. Who ever told you women only care about child-reading,woman's issues(barf) and supporting their hubby never spoke to me. I am an old straight female(67) and I hate some of the fluff that passes for Het fiction today. That's why I read sci-fi,war stories of all types,MM,FF and Yes trans lit although I have not found too much. I must be looking in the wrong place.As far as the "lynch mob",I did not see it as that but I was not as sensitive to certain issues. I think the straight community needs a real wake up call,and an education.
    The discussion that started on GR was about lying and notabout being Trans.If it was taken that way I apologize to anyone who felt singled out.Today's general public is barely accepting of gay and lesbian people it will take a long time to accept any variation beyond that I'm sorry to say. I have no fast answers on how to fix this but maybe education will help. I know how long other discrimination took in the US culture. I come from the US and I don't think we are as broad minded as we think.
    I am very sorry for the Trans community, for feeling put upon, and having to answer ridiculous prying questions about who they are.
    I am really sorry for what you and other people who are Trans have suffered. I don't know what else to say but please don't paint all straight women as the same thinking or feeling.

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  37. @arl215: You said "The discussion that started on GR was about lying and notabout being Trans."

    I had a slightly different take on that. Someone came out as trans* and the first reaction was - he is lying (to cover up other things or not is irrelevant - since he also profusely apologized for them). There were only very few people even willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, to accept that MAYBE he didnt't want to come out, wasn't ready to 'destroy his identity' (as Aleks has done). Nope, the vast majority just assumed it was deceit and a lie.

    What sort of a message is THAT sending to trans* people?


    [sorry for hijacking the blog, Aleks, and you can delete my comment, but I felt this needs to be addressed]

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  38. I've never emailed an author before, never joined any blogs and have only on occasion ventured a look at an author's website for updates on upcoming books. One of those rare occasions was today, and now I find myself writing to an author for the first time after experiencing, what I can only loosely refer to, as shock. I will not take your time on venting, as my outrage is nothing in comparison to your injustice.

    My only wish is that you truly believe me when I say you are a breathtakingly, brave and beautiful human being. Your depth in understanding and explaining humanity in your writing speaks only of the depth that exists within you. This is not your talent, but who you are! You are a writer in the virtual world, therefore it is not the physical elements that has drawn so much attention to you; such hatred is fueled only by the overwhelming knowledge one feels when they are forced to compare themselves and see how much they do not have.

    To me, you are only amazing...no face...no gender...no preference in shampoos....only amazing :)

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  39. Aleks,

    You are awesome. And brave.

    *big hugs*

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  40. I've read your blog post 3 times already and I still have trouble breathing. Why? Cause I don't want to know in how much pain you must be, how much you are suffering right now to stand "naked" in front of us and make yourself a target for attack of haters and bigoted people.
    Almost 2 years ago I mailed the only fan letter I ever wrote and told you how much I admire your work, your writing skills. It has never changed and will never change, it will only grow. You're such a courageous generous strong human being and I so much admire you. It doesn't matter to me if you're a man, woman, trans or whatever you can identify with. I can only respect you for what you are and that is just great.
    I saddens me that it had to come to this and you felt you had to come out. But you didn't!

    My heart broke while reading this and I'm crying while writing, so sorry for any writing, grammar mistakes.
    For me, you will always be Mr Aleksandr Voinov, an exceptional author who I admire. You'll never walk alone!
    Hugs

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  41. Thank you.

    Thank you for sharing this with us, even though you didn't have to, and for being the great influence you've been.

    There's so much more I'd like to say, but it's a garbled mess of emotion right now, so I'll end with something slightly more humorous..

    I swear I wasn't copying when I started using the name Alex W! *headdesk*

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  42. Aleks, you have my full support. I view you as a writer and I wished everyone would do the same. You have done nothing but being extremely friendly when we shared the messages through twitter and some in emails. I remember I was scared to contact you because of how popular you are in M/M genre. Now, I know I have nothing to be scare of and you have helped me a lot when it comes to picking the publishers and your experiences as an author. I truly appreciate the time I get to know you and hope there'll be more of it in future when the mess has cooled down.

    Growing up, I have never met a tran* person until I was in college. At first I was confused and I made sure I educated myself before I crossed a wrong line. From there, it opened my mind with the diversity. I am deeply saddened by the fact you were forced to come out when it wasn't in your own time. Who are we to decide you must tell us when it is your own life. Being an author gave us an opportunity to keep our RL privacy.

    All in all, you have my 100% support no matter how hateful the community may caused for you. I hope to continue read more of your work in gay genre. (I really need to catch up!)

    Hugest hugs!
    Zach Sweets

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  43. Breath-taking, thought-provoking...humbling! I'm not good with words - others here have expressed how I'm feeling much better than I ever could but allow me to just say that your courage inspires awe.

    "And, will I ever reclaim enough of my dignity to write again with confidence and grace?

    Will I?"


    Mr. Voinov, you already have!

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  44. I don't get why everyone is so obsessed with who or what someone else is, I really don't.

    You're an awesome writer, and that was all that ever mattered to me. I'm sad that this entire debacle has proven only that a place that was supposed to be awesome, is instead a nest of vipers with a bad case of entitlement and a long list of other issues.

    You are made of marvelous and wonderful, and fuck everyone who like to judge people by rules that were never worth following in the first place

    <3

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  45. @Serena, I didn't look at that the same way you did initially. My bad for not understanding! I thought the discussion on MM was suppose to be ONLY the lie,in regards to how AJ had remarked on his blogs and on Jessewave and his not liking that females were writing MM.Being anti anything is always a bad thing I personally didn't like the lie,I would still buy and read his books,like I have in the past. Maybe,some good will come out of this discussion. A better understanding about the Trans community I will personally look for more information and novels on the subject. ALek I am so sorry for your pain and I mean that sincerely!!!

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  46. Alex, thanks for sharing your thoughts. It has really shed light for me on this whole issue. Helped me understand better and I think that's the problem. Not everyone understands. They think they do (I thought I did) but in reality, it's much more complicated. Thanks for sharing and letting me understand better, and I hope you decide to continue writing. *hugs*

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  47. I am sorry you have been made to feel you have to do this. The only thing that matters to me is you are who you say you are. Your "voice" in your communications online has always been that of one person, one personality. And that is all that matters to me. One of the things I have always admired is your masculinity and that will never change.

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  48. Poppa Aleks,
    listen, if you ever need a rest? I can always take a watch for you. I may never have walked in your shoes, but I'd be proud to watch your six.

    As to losing *you* ?

    Pfffft.
    You are always and forever you. The spark that makes you Aleks, and makes Vic himself, Bryl and DC themselves...that spark is the same no matter what body it's put into. I'm me, and You are you, and that's a very good thing indeed.

    Having read your writing, I know that you write because--as Rilke put it--you must. So write your stories. They are amazing. And share them with whom you will. No one owns any piece of you...save those you willingly give your heart or a fragment of your soul to.

    The rest of us?

    Ah, Aleks, we just look on in profound awe.

    If you need anything Aleks, anything at all, you know where to find me.

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  49. Aleks. I...am so afraid of not expressing myself correctly but dare not even ask you to excuse me if I don't.

    Because, what am I? Just someone who threw a few bucks your way to read something you wrote and now watch you rip your clothes off and bare yourself to the world. Am I suppose to thank you? Applaud you? Feel entitled to that little bit of honesty?

    What am "I"? Just someone who passes you by and throws my loose change into your tin can and walks on. Then I get shocked when this beggar gets up and speaks and says, "I am human being. Too."? So if you spit at "me", it would be more than I deserve.

    From our private correspondence, you know I am a Christian, and an orthodox one - except when it comes to the issue of LGBTs. The question of your gender never occurred to me because that's never been how I view people. And in this I consider myself 'very Biblical' because God said he created us in His image, male AND female yet also 'there is neither male NOR female. So everyone is male AND female to me; everyone is bi-gender to me. And everyone is beyond gender.

    As I type this, I'm wondering...scared shitless...whether you'd still consider me a friend. Have I, inadvertently, before this tragedy, ever said or done anything to add to the hurt? I am so afraid I may have and if I did, would you forgive me?

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  50. Alex, we don't know one another, although I've certainly heard about you. My heart is in threads as I read this...it was as well with your previously email. I shed a few tears over it. If I could hug you, I would. so, this is the most I can do...my words, like yours are all I have. I, too am very tormented by what is going on in this community, a place where I too, felt safe, wrapped in tolerance...but no more.

    The people engaged in this hate mongering, witch hunt, are either a bunch of no talent wanna a be writers, or a bunch of sheep who jump on any bandwagon that catches their fancy.
    They are jealous, vindictive, and homophobics, who pretend to be gay positive...BULL.

    I have had an outpouring of love heaped on me in the last few days...I guess you find out fast who your friends are and that's the only good thing about this.

    Some people think they own a writers life, some people think they had the "god" (sic) given right to know everything about you. Bullies are bullies...usually they hate themselves and can only feel good when they put down others. What has shocked me is that people who call themselves "authors" and I say that fast, are part of the bullying mob, sometimes leading the way.

    Stand up Alex, be proud of who you are but don't think you owe these losers anything, there are a hell of a lot of us who will stand beside you, my friend. Don't let these Nazi's get your down. Most people know what they're made of...You have a great talent...the power to reach people with your words, don't deprive the people who really need to hear those words of it. That's what they want...

    xxxx
    D.J. Manly

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  51. The polarization that this recent "outing" of authors has caused is sad and disappointing. Everyone on either side seems to have their own justification for their feelings, but it just distracts from the issue of the writing itself. As a reader, I don't care about the gender of any writer; I simply enjoy or don't enjoy their writing. Those interested in books and writing should get back to that basic issue rather than spending so much time "hating" for things that have no bearing on writing ability. If you stop writing, it will be a great loss to everyone.

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  52. Calling Mr. Voinov...
    Calling Mr. Voinov...

    Silly man. Of course you'll write again. That's what writers do.

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  53. I certainly hope so. Huge hugs. You are an amazing human being and I salute you.

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  54. Aleks, I've never cared about the people who write the books I've read and I still don't. On IRM, I only ask the question as a conversation piece.

    You'll always just be one of the best fucking writers in the world and I wish you'd reconsider not writing for the m/m romance community any more.

    Whatever you do decide to do I wish you nothing but the best. This blog was really well written and it isn't a surprise coming from such an awesome author.

    Hugs to you as always!

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  55. I've been told lots of times that I lack empathy. I'm pretty sure they were right when they said it.
    That said, my heart broke while reading this. I didn't have half the understanding that I do now, so at the very least I must thank you for that enlightenment.

    You haven't changed in my eyes, but in my heart you are an even better man than before, an inspiration. A gentleman to the core.

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  56. You are Mr. Aleksander Voinov. You have my support. I love your books. I adore that twisty mind in your writing. I can't imagine the emotional turmoil you went through posting this entry. You are by far, a brave and courageous soul.

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  57. I've recently come to the conclusion that we're all just "people". There was a YA book I read once called Parrotfish, that really made me think about gender. The author used a football field and at one end put the most manliest man and at the other end the most girliest girl. And in between them, were all the people of the world. Even those who don't consider themselves gender neutral or trans are somewhere in the middle.

    I liked that, because it's easy to see, and I believe it's true.

    We're all just people. Everyone is trying to make things so complicated, when in reality it's not. Yes, we're all different. The world would be a boring place if we all came out of a cookie cutter mold, wouldn't it? But at the same time, deep down, we're all the same. Whether we're mentally or physically challenged, whether we're good at sports, or better at playing music in the band. None of that really matters, it just helps to make us unique and interesting.

    I'm terribly sorry this was the way you had to come out. It should never have been like this. But thankfully there are pockets of wonderful M/M writers and readers who are loving and supportive. And hopefully, by you taking the reigns and showing us who you are before someone else could rip your clothes off in a terrible soap opra drama, you've given the power back to the writers and the readers who actually care.

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  58. Alex,

    I posted this comment on your GR page to respond to your post and thought I should post it here as well.

    ~ Monica

    Wow, this is deep. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts. I also can understand why you feel the way you do. However, I am very disappointed at some of the things you stated, even though you have a right to express whatever you want to say. What I am referring to is the name calling you have done about the GR MM Romance Group. I am a member of that group. A proud member. I don't have time to read a bunch of blogs or all of the posts in every single folder. I also did not make a negative comment about AJ, you, V or anyone else. So why did you feel that we are "the lynch mob of the M/M Goodreads Group?" Aren't you judging all of us by a few? Isn't that wrong?

    You should never let anyone force you to quit what you want to do. Who the hell is anyone to get you to do that? They aren't important. Don't give anyone that power. I've been there done that and I know sometimes its easier said then done. You have to be you regardless of what anyone else thinks.

    But I have to question how it is right for you to go after the things you didn't like that were said with equally negative comments directed at all? How does that make sense? I'm trying to understand how this all got blown up to this point and how it can be repaired.

    What I do know is that it will take courage from all parties to take responsibility for the hurtful things that were said and to take time to reflect and acknowledge that we're not perfect, we can choose to forgive and move on in a more positive and open fashion and learn from our mistakes.

    I just ask that you not do what you accuse others of doing to you. I wish you joy and happiness.

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  59. Sir, you awe me. The sheer scope of what you've faced -- and of the courage that it takes to tell us about it -- absolutely staggers me. If I ever have half your strength of character and your capacity to endure, I'll count myself immeasurably fortunate.

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  60. Thank you very much for your courage and your inspiration. Go on being you and the world will follow.

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  61. I have just been linked to this and I just want you to know I am sending you the biggest god damned hug from Bucks... I can't know for one minute how hard it was for you to write this and I for one will be the first person to support you in anything you write here... with hugs RJ xxxx

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  62. Aleks

    It took an amazing amount of courage for you to write this post and it would be a terrible tragedy if you were to decide to pack it in. You have a unique voice in the genre, as I said in our recent interview, and M/M can't afford to lose writers like you. I hope you will reconsider.

    ....do I deserve to be counted among those who are “Faking It” to quote the title of a blog post on Jesse Wave’s m/m review blog? Do I?

    I have always had the highest regard for you Aleks and have never treated you in any manner that could be considered disrespectful, and there's no way I'm going to start now. I have a few friends in RL who are trans* so I have a very small understanding of the difficulties you encounter on a daily basis.

    My post had nothing to do with transphobia. To be specific, it was about an author who used my site to pretend to be a gay man and denounce female authors for "cashing in" on gay romance, something he himself apparently had been doing, in addition to conducting a deception in other areas for years.

    Take whatever time you need to regroup and I hope that you will listen to your friends and share your talent with us once more. You are an incredible man and M/M needs people like you to raise the bar.

    *Hugs*

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  63. Wonderful post. I am a MTF transgendered person and a writer of MM. I think you nailed everything spot on. It's sad to say though that at this point after this mess that I don't feel I can come out and be open with the community. Maybe that will change in time. I hope so.

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  64. Dear Aleks, I'm not a wordsmith, Your post has moved me to tears. In my head authors are the gender suggested by their pen names, you're are Mr Voinov to me thats all there is to it, beyond that I am not fussed, black, white, male, female, christian, jew or sheep it is non of my business.

    That said I think your post should be compulsory reading for every young person in the country. Maybe by making them think we can bring our children up to understand and accept.

    I shall miss your writing, but your mental helath is far more important. Wrap your self up with the love and best wishes of your supporters and keep safe.

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  65. Aleks,
    I wish you all the best. Your books are awesome and I read them because they are well written and absorbing.
    I joined GR to find books. I have along the way also found people. I think of them as friends and I like the fact that being online means that I get to know a person as a human being! I don't know what they look like, but I don't care. I care greatly what is between their ears and how they treat others, but what is between their legs, it their business. PERIOD!!

    At the end of the day, you have to be true to yourself and I hope that more people realize that everyone deserves to be comfortable in their own skin. I want to be respected for my actions and not what I look like, or god forbid, who I sleep with. I want to adhere to the Golden Rule and I think our world would be a much better place if everyone would follow it!

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  66. I can't even read this whole thing yet, because even a skim is overwhelming me. You are so brave. God, you and every trans individual I've ever met is so fucking brave. I'm not sure why the correlation is so strong, but I'm starting to believe that's the only way you're made. With iron, because you're going to need it.

    And then you post this. Iron, I'm telling you. Flexible iron.

    Bravo. And yes. the T revolution is long overdue. You've made one hell of a stand right here.

    I keep going over this comment trying to get it to express my feelings accurately, but I don't think words exist. I'll just say well done once more and acknowledge my inadequacy.

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  67. Okay. I've spoken to people in private over the past few weeks and never said anything on a public forum until now. I'm not one to say much out loud. Never have been. But. I read through your post, Aleks, and was perusing the comments when my eight yr old son came over and placed a piece of paper on my keyboard and said to me "There's something special inside us all." and left again. What he handed me is a bit of wisdom his Judo Sensi (sp?) shared with the class (of eight yr olds, keep in mind):

    "The spirit is something inside us all that makes us special. It is what makes us who we are. The spirit needs to be looked after and taken care of. We need to educate our spirits by filling our lives with whatever is good, what is right, what is honourable. When we fill our lives with these things, it makes us better and stronger people and we become better and stronger, we encourage others around us to become better and stronger people as well."

    When all this started, I wanted to stay out of it. I wanted to say nothing, keep to myself and not fill up my life with the poison. It couldn't really be ignored, and in the end, I was lead here, an lo. I find myself, well, you, really, educating my spirit and filling it with something good, right and honourable.

    I was trying to figure out how to put into words what I wanted to say to you, and my son handed me this little slip of paper, and there it was. Everything I wanted to express about how you've helped me.

    Thank you.
    Jaime Samms

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  68. *applauds you with tears in her eyes* Amazing, sir...just amazing. Thank you for sharing this.

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  69. Alex your bravery made me cry. I believe (as I posted on goodreads) the only thing an author owes his readers is the story we read and You have more than fulfilled that contract with your wonderful writing.
    All other personal details are your business and your right to reveal or not. You are what you believe, strong and true to that.
    I too believe in reincarnation and your karma is shining and golden.

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  70. I cannot adequately express what I am feeling either, but I at least wanted to thank you for these posts.

    Sirius.

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  71. I don't have the words, but you still have my support. Please don't stop writing.

    My best friend is trans female, but still lives as a male except in small, private doses. I hope one day he has even half your strength to claim the female pronouns, lifestyle, and soul.

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  72. You are an incredible person and so strong to be able to do this. I admire your courage and I hope really, that you can be happy whatever your choice is. You have alot of fans of your work supporting you as well as supporting you for YOU. Take care of yourself. You're the only one who can.

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  73. Dear Sir,

    I know you from GR M/M group in passing. I had been away and just read the comments there and here about this whole situation and I left a comment there, that is sure to bring me grief, but felt I had to say it anyway. I hope you will read it.
    For now I just want to tell you something very serious to me after reading your blog. I am not trans* but I have always felt that I was a man trapped in a really sucky female body! I despise most women for numerous reason, so it is difficult to be what I hate, but here I am. I write M/M fiction, and I don't see anything wrong with that. I don't have a dick, but I write good stories or so I've been told. You write good stories too, so why would you stop just because your a tran*? That doesn't make any sense to me, especially when it is clear from the comments that you have some seriously loyal people in your corner and I would love to have the honor of being one of them. I would like to be your friend, Sir, and I am applying for the position. *nods firmly* It would be a great honor to me. I will stand in your corner no matter what you decide to do. I do not like bullies and haters and those who talk just because they are filled with their own importance, but those who never look on the heart are utterly repugnant in every way. It has never been the outside that mattered, only the heart.
    Please stay strong, so many need you. *hugs Aleksandr tightly*

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  74. I'm on your side, Aleks.
    *Hugs*
    Monika, Germany

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  75. Lots of love and support to you! Natasha,US

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  76. Your post makes me very glad that I began talking about my gender identity to my readers a few years ago. At the time, despite my discomfort at talking about my gender difference, I had the vague feeling that my disclosure might be of help to others with nonstandard genders. But not till I read your post did I realize what a vicious backlash some trans m/m writers have been undergoing. For some reason, I never encountered that from any readers. Another reason to be grateful to my readers. :)

    Coming out was a lot easier for me than for you, because, as a nongendered person, my biological sex isn't automatically revealed when I talk about my gender (though that information is easy enough for readers to locate; I used to write under my legal name). For you to have stopped passing, when you knew all the horror stories of trans suffering in the m/m community . . . You have my deep admiration, sir.

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  77. Mr Voinov, I don't have any right to say nothing about your touching post, because I don't know you and I'm not your friend (yet I'd like to be^^'), I don't want to seem nosy.
    But you asked in the middle 'Who on earth is interested in trans* literature?' Well, I do!!
    And I don't even see like trans, gay or straight literature. I just worship your stories.
    You make me like of soldiers, dude! Sorry for that... well, right! What I'm trying to say is keep your writting! You have a natural gift, and I'm very glad for the opportunity to read your books.

    They already have crossed the ocean, Mr Voinov. I'm Brazilian. And you are my #1 favorite writer.
    Hugs!

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