This is a special episode on Writing, Mothering & Gender Identity with Stephanie Burt, Jennifer Chen, and Toni McLellan. We talked about writing and mothering nonbinary and trans children, and writing and mothering as trans and nonbinary mothers. It’s no accident that we held this conversation on International Transgender Day of Visibility, even as LGBTQ+ rights are being attacked throughout the US, from child welfare investigations targeting families of transgender children in Texas to the Florida Senate passing the “Don’t Say Gay or Trans” bill to a bill that sought to repeal New Hampshire’s ban on “conversion therapy” for minors.
Stephanie Burt is a poet, literary critic, and professor who the New York Times called “one of the most influential poetry critics of her generation.” She has published four collections of poems: Advice from the Lights, Belmont, Parallel Play, and Popular Music, and her works of criticism include Close Calls with Nonsense: Reading New Poetry, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Stephanie earned a BA from Harvard and PhD from Yale and is a Professor of English at Harvard University. She lives in the suburbs of Boston with her spouse and their two children ages 16 and 11.
Jennifer Chen is a freelance journalist who has written for Today, New York Times, Oprah Daily, Real Simple, and Bust. Jennifer has a MFA and BFA in dramatic writing from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, and is a proud alumnae of Hedgebrook, a women’s writing residency. Her debut YA rom-com book, ARTIFACTS OF AN EX, will be published by Wednesday Books in summer 2023. Jennifer lives in Los Angeles with her TV writer husband and 6-yr-old twins.
An attorney by training, Toni began her career writing about parenting, health, and outdoor family travel for major magazines and websites, pivoting to content marketing and strategy for brands including Outside, Disney, KitchenAid, and AT&T. When she’s not crafting content on topics as varied as higher ed, luxury bedding, or tourism, Toni writes personal essays and New-to-me Phrases, a weekly newsletter celebrating the love of language and ridiculousness. Toni lives with her husband and three kids ages 22, 19, and 17 near Chicago.