7 Soldiers Book — Apology For Unintended Transphobia, and a Question


I just had an annoying realisation. In my book on Seven Soldiers from 2011, I use phrasing in one chapter which I now realise, but didn’t at the time (though I should have), could be considered offensive to trans people (I refer to a trans male character as having been born female, and misgender his pre-transition identity).
I think it’s fairly clear in the book that this is through cluelessness rather than anything worse, and nobody has ever mentioned having a problem with those lines to me (and I know several trans people have read the essay, or at least told me they had — whether they’d be comfortable pointing out transphobic stuff to me, or whether they’d just assume that I’d take offence as people so often do when you point out their inadvertant bigotry, I don’t know).
I don’t know if this is a bad enough problem that I should pull the book from sale and put out a second edition with those lines changed, or whether a note on the errata page on my website will suffice, given that it’s been out three years and nobody has ever mentioned it’s a problem yet. I do know that it’s a problem that I should at least acknowledge and apologise for.
What do people think?

Either way, I apologise, unreservedly.

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9 Responses to 7 Soldiers Book — Apology For Unintended Transphobia, and a Question

  1. Phil Beesley says:

    Please leave the story unedited but add your thoughts about gender labelling at the end or beginning in future editions. You should not change what you originally wrote — it has been published.

    Here is the story of Roberta Cowell, RAF pilot and racing driver: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roberta_Cowell. It comes across as clunky because it derives from wikipedia editing and partly because we are discovering how to write about transgendered people. When Cowell entered her first car competitions, Motor Sport magazine recorded her name as Robert, because that was her name at the time. Today, historians record them for Roberta, with respect and in the way that they identify dead people who competed anonymously.

  2. Joe S. Walker says:

    Did you ever apologise for your sneering remarks re the Magic Band audience?

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      No, because I made no such sneering remarks, and because the Magic Band audience, unlike trans people, is a group to which a) I belonged, b) faces absolutely no discrimination whatsoever, and c) is exactly as I described it — as Gavin Burrows confirmed in his comments replying to you at the time. As an absolutely representative member of that audience, I am entirely entitled to poke mild fun at characteristics I share.
      You, however, are *not* representative of that audience, in that you are so resentful of the slightest perceived slight against a group of which you may be a member that you will actually monitor a blog for *more than a year* waiting for a further opportunity to demand satisfaction, even though it’s one you otherwise don’t comment on at all ever and presumably don’t read.
      So while I am entirely characteristic of the Magic Band’s audience, you certainly aren’t, as their audience don’t strike me in general as the kind of people to act like, frankly, a stalker, and one with no sense of either perspective or humour.
      In short, and to quote your own comment from more than a year ago, ‘I think “fuck you” is the appropriate response to that.’

      • Andrew Hickey says:

        (For those wondering what on earth mr Walker is whining about, he’s referring to https://andrewhickey.info/2013/03/10/the-magic-band-band-on-the-wall-manchester-7th-march/ )

      • Joe S. Walker says:

        I look at this site because it’s interesting to see someone who’s such a mixture of contemptible qualities – PC prig, Liberal Democrat, Doctor Who obsessive and desperately impoverished person’s Ian MacDonald. That is, when I’ve nothing better to do.

        • And yet I still manage not to go around trolling comment sections, and thus manage to be a better human being than you.
          Also, if you’re complaining about “PC” then you have no leg to stand on at all when complaining about any group you’re a member of being mocked.
          (I’ve just set a filter so all further comments from Mr Walker go directly into the trash without my having to intervene. The man’s clearly disturbed, and isn’t going to be contributing anything worthwhile to the discussion.)

  3. Mike Taylor says:

    Leave the book alone. It’s done, and no-one’s unhappy with it. Everyone will be happier if you invest that time writing new stuff instead.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      At least one person has told me that she was unhappy with that phrasing but uncomfortable mentioning it to me. If she is, there may well be others, and the time to fix it is relatively trivial.

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