THE PRICE OF LIBERATION
Grazia|July 2021
Meet the first trans woman to be longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
ARMAN KHAN

The characters of Detransition, Baby will not oversimplify anything for you – least of all for the straight gaze. By the first page you are careered into action with all cylinders firing. The honesty with which author Torrey Peters pulls you straight into the heart of the story is not just breathtaking but also refreshing.

“I was certainly conscious of the idea of the audience. You cannot control who is reading the book, but you can definitely decide to not alter your story to suit a majoritarian audience,” says Peters. “For instance, if I had to slow down in the book and explain hormones, the trans reader would have simply said – I already know this, why is she explaining this to me?” However, this is not an act of isolation. Peters derives inspiration from the literature of other marginalised communities, particularly Toni Morrison, who consciously wrote for the black audience.

“The idea, as Morrison would say, is that the black experience is a universal experience. That is why she didn’t have to explain things to a white reader,” explains Peters. “Similarly, I do believe that in my context, the trans experience is also universal. Cis people have genders too, right? Probably they can learn a thing or two about themselves by understanding trans narratives?”

COMMUNITY & DIGNITY

In a particularly revelatory moment in the book, a trans woman’s character is dead sure that she simply cannot afford to commit suicide. Because if she does, she knows that other people will reduce her existence to a few superficial incidents and she will lose control of the narrative.

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