Monday, 27 September 2021

Eight months later.

Well, I've finally finished my book and it will be out in January. This is what it will look like:

As you'll notice, it's a chess book. It has nothing to do with gender. And yet...

About the author: ‘They have been investigating and writing about opening theory for over 30 years.

Yes, that's “they have” not “he has”. Right.

Similarly, unless referring to someone specifically gendered, I use neutral pronouns throughout. No “he or she” nonsense. Just “they” and “their”, and even “themself”. Because why the fuck wouldn't I do that?!

Furthermore, the book ‘is based to a large extent on my own investigations and practice’, so I reference a lot of my own games, including those played online – where I mostly use the handle “tsmenace” (and have been doing since I started playing online in 2004). As I explain in the Introduction: ‘Other instances of “tsmenace” online are not me, though the source is likely to be the same, and I still have the t-shirt.’ Readers here, if not there, may already recognize that source...

From Wikipedia: ‘The Transexual Menace (...) was a transgender rights activist organization founded in New York City in 1993. It was the first direct action group of its kind, and grew to be a national organisation with 24 chapters.’ My t-shirt adds the words: “Great British Chapter”. I got it from PFC back in the day.

Damn, that seems a lifetime ago. Do we even use the term “transsexual” any more? It's a long time since I wore the t-shirt too – I keep it in a drawer as a souvenir – but when I did, the reactions were... entertaining. I never, as you might think, got any actual abuse. Instead, I saw people's eyes drift expressionlessly down to my chest and then back up again. I stared expressionlessly back. But that was back then. In the current trans-hostile climate I probably would get abuse. It'll be interesting to see whether there's any response to any of this once the book comes out.

Those last two words are apposite because the book is a sort-of coming out too, in that it puts my gender issues into the public domain. Albeit a tiny part thereof and only incidentally. After all, it is a chess book.


  1. Good luck with the book and the response to it. In any serious book, it's always hard to know how to pitch the author's bio, interventions and asides. Professionalism is what most readers are looking for in the specialist press, I guess.

    I have been playing chess since I was 6 and remain at the same crummy level! Presumably, that's because I haven't read a Jonathan Tait book yet.

    Sue x

    1. Thanks, Sue. There's a bit more to the bio than that, but that was the relevant bit here.

      As for playing, I've been pretty much at the same level for 30 years too. I did reach an all-time high in 2016 (supposedly ranked 60th in the country), but now I'm back down more or less where I was in 1990, which is absolutely nowhere. Good thing I took a screenshot of the 2016 rating list for posterity ;)

  2. Congratulations on the book launch.

    In a recent podcast, one of the hosts said "my pronouns are they slash them - just like a samurai" 😁

    1. Thanks, Lynn. Not sure I'd call it a launch though. Shouldn't there be champagne and nibbles and suchlike?

      Btw my Twitter profile includes "they/them". Maybe I should just go and change that to "samurai".

  3. I just ordered a copy. I will let you know what I think!