We’re excited to announce that Sorrah Edwards-Thro will be our new Transitions Editor.
Sorrah Edwards-Thro is a queer, trans masc, and autistic writer. He lives in a Maryland community of twelve people and holds jobs as a tutor for neurodivergent children, personal care aide, editor of educational content in Haitian Creole, and grant writer for a community school. They love to read and write pieces that both grieve and dream for better worlds.
Barrett Warner: I created this position out of a concern that we might be missing some of the conversation coming out of the LBGTQ community—not only coded metaphors, but a larger problem of not having an ear trained to listen for notes coming from unfamiliar voices.
Sorrah Edwards-Thro: I love “Transitions” as a title! One small hint of caution: not every queer, gender-nonconforming, or neurodivergent person connects with the label “trans” or the concept of transitioning, but I want to say there’s a bit of a poetic license here even as it strays into the political, especially because the “s” gestures toward a plurality.
Barrett: I also wanted to promote inclusion across a neuro-diverse and gender nonconforming spectrum.
Sorrah: Did you just say inclusion? I’m personally fonder of ‘access’ or ‘representation’ or ‘offer a platform to,’ but I guess ‘inclusion’ is better than ‘diversity.’
Barrett: Let’s call it access. I was hoping you could give a second read to some of the LGBTQ submissions.
Sorrah: I like LGBTQIA+ (I is for ‘intersex’ and A is for ‘asexual’) or LGBTQ+ to make sure other identities make it into the mix via the ‘+’. But what do you mean by coded metaphors? Do you mean translation? As a linguist who’s debated whether Haitian Creoles count as codes and as a poet who has a whole spoken-word piece about the word ‘miss’, this line in your description ungrounded me. When you talk about codes are you suggesting the point of these queer / trans codes is to restrict information to an intended audience? I think that is the last thing we’re trying to do. We want a larger audience, not a smaller one.
The point of queer / trans codes is to restrict information to an intended audience of other queer and trans people – many queer and trans folk do want to produce material that’s primarily read by others like them, so the idea of a smaller audience is definitely on the list / well above the last thing on the list. It’s more that maintaining an intimacy with other queer and trans folk is one of several conflicting goals held in tension when writing from that experience – because yes what is intimate can also feel constricting.
Barrett: You know what I’m trying to say.
Sorrah: Just because I know what you’re trying to say doesn’t mean you’re saying it in the right way. Newsflash! Not everyone is you. That’s the point of saying it with better word choices. Look, in my own writing I definitely drop in things that will only resonate with other queer / trans / neurodivergent people, but I also try to give other readers a glimpse of “there are some emotions here that you can relate to because they’re human emotions, even if you don’t and can’t share this experience.” I could see myself working with other writers to help that quality come through and nudging other editors, especially you, to notice the potential a piece has of reaching a larger audience in ways it doesn’t reach them yet.
Barrett: By neurodivergent don’t you mean neurodiverse?
Sorrah: [TAKES DEEP BREATH] Neurodivergent is more correct, because ‘neurodiverse’ encompasses both neurodivergent and everyone else. The key isn’t the diversity by itself, but that we diverge from where we’ve been, where we are now. And, since we’re on the subject, I’m pretty sure I heard you say gender nonconforming.
Sorrah: Not all queer and trans folk identify as gender nonconforming, and not all gender nonconforming folk identify as queer or trans (although queer folk are far more likely to be nonconforming than just LGB or even T folk). Use all three terms – queer, and trans, and gender nonconforming – to make sure everyone accesses the conversation.