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21 October 2011

Roz Kaveney (1949 - ) writer, critic, editor, activist.

Kaveney grew up in Acton, London. Before going to university, he spent some time with a group of trans sex workers in Manchester who helped with self-definition, and with self-defense. At Pembroke College, Oxford the gay scene was somewhat lacking:
“I wanted something that promised more, something wilder and saner. Something with radical politics and a sense of fun and experimental attitudes to the possibilities of sex and style and screaming in the street.”
A phone call to the newly formed Gay Liberation Front in London led to the TV/TS Group, which turned out to be run by Rachel Pollack then living but fifty yards from where Kaveney had grown up. Together they formed a transvestite presence at GLF meetings.

From the late 1970s Kaveney established a reputation as a Science Fiction critic, and also wrote on feminism, gay rights and censorship. Roz had completed transition by 1980.
"I was reared Catholic but got over it, was born male but got over it, stopped sleeping with boys about the time I stopped being one and am much happier than I was when I was younger."
In the 1980s Roz was a co-editor of Interzone science fiction magazine. From 1989 she was a founding member of Feminists Against Censorship. In the early 1990s she was in the Midnight Rose collective (with Alex Stewart, Neil Gaiman and Mary Gentle) that produced a series of SF anthologies for Penguin Books.

In the mid-90s, when she was Deputy Chair of Liberty, she wrote their report of transsexuals for submission to the UN. The Director, having come across the term ‘transgender’ and thinking it a more radical synonym, did a search and replace throughout the document. Roz persuaded him that the best solution was a policy switch in favour of appropriate rights for all trans people.

She was a contributing editor to The Encyclopedia of Fantasy, 1997.

In her essay for More & Whittle’s Reclaiming Gender, 1999 Roz articulates six non-negotiable axioms as the basis for any workable transgender and transsexual politics:
  1. Display solidarity with all of our transgender (including transsexual) brothers and sisters
  2. Build alliances by getting involved as ourselves in other areas of politics
  3. Don’t let journalistic and intellectual attacks on our community go unanswered; We can have and keep the intellectual and moral high ground
  4. Be creative, be smart, be ourselves and don’t let anybody tell us who we are and what we do
  5. Refuse the pathological medical model - we are not sick, just different
  6. Refuse those politics - heterosexism, body fascism - that work against all the above, but most especially against no.1.
She continues:
“The reformist transsexual agenda often sets up, as part of its argument, a largely false dichotomy between ‘people who pass’ and the inferior capacity of ‘people who don’t pass’. ... And, of course, none of us really know that we have passed all the time and as long as we fetishize the model of passing as the only way to be accepted as who we are, for just that long our self-esteem will be under threat from any small child or gutter journalist who feels like having a go. ... The possibility, or even probability, that someone passes most of the time is no defence for them on the rare occasions when they do not. You are only as safe as your roughest day.”
Roz is a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Independent and The Times Literary Supplement, and was number 85 in the Independent on Sunday Pink List, 2011.
  • Kris Kirk and Ed Heath. Men In Frocks. London: Gay Men's Press. 1984: 82.  
  • Roz Kaveney. More Tales from the Forbidden Planet. London: Titan Books, 1987.
  • Neil Gaiman, Mary Gentle, and Roz Kaveney. The Weerde. Bk. 1, A Shared World Anthology. ROC, 1992.
  • Neil Gaiman, Mary Gentle, and Roz Kaveney. The Weerde. A Shared World Anthology Bk. 2. Harmondsworth, Mddx: Penguin, 1993.
  • “Roz Kaveney”. John Clute and John Grant. The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1997.
  • Roz Kaveney. “Talking Transgender Politics”. In Kate More and Stephen Whittle. Reclaiming Genders: Transsexual Grammars at the Fin De Siècle. London: Cassell, 1999.
  • Roz Kaveney. Reading the Vampire Slayer: An Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel. London: Tauris Park Paperbacks, 2001.
  • Roz Kaveney. From Alien to The Matrix: Reading Science Fiction Film. London: I.B. Tauris, 2005.
  • Kaveney, Roz. Teen Dreams: Reading Teen Film from Heathers to Veronica Mars. London: I.B. Tauris, 2006.
  • Kaveney, Roz. Superheroes. London: I. B. Tauris, 2008.
  • Jorjet Harper. “Pop Culture, Queer Culture: An Interview with Roz Kaveney”. Windy City Times, 2008-04-16.
  • Roz Kaveney and Jennifer Story. Nip. London: I B Tauris & Co Ltd, 2011.
  • Roz Kaveney. “Shot, Stabbed, Choked, Strangled, Broken: a ritual for November 20th”. In Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman. Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation. Berkeley, Calif: Seal Press, 2010.
  • "Roz Kaveney". Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
  • "Roz Kaveney". The Guardian.
  • Roz Kaveney. "Gay Liberation Front at 40". Pride London.
  • “Roz Kaveney” Internet Speculative Fiction DB.

I also went to the GLF TV/TS group, but in 1974, by which time it was pretty naf.

1 comment:

  1. A few points.
    1. I transitioned in 1979 and had my surgery in 1982. Bad complications led to my having a number of revision surgeries over the next three years.
    2. I didn't write the Liberty submission - I helped prepare it and then rationalized the policy after the 'transgender'/'transexual' confusion.
    3 It's probably worth mentioning that I helped found the UK organization Feminists Against Censorship and that much of my other work - egas reader for Virago, as a contributor to various books like Lorna Sage's Cambridge Guide to Women Writing in English - may have helped reconcile people to a trans prsense within UK feminist scholarship and feminism.
    4 I ought to acknowledge that I spent much of my 20s retreating to the closet partly from fear and partly because I was for a while convinced by negative arguments about transexuality from feminist friends. This is perhaps part of the reason for my fairly acerbic review of THE TRANSEXUAL EMPIRE when it came out - the piece was in Gay News - there is a transcript of it here
    4. My unpublished novel/memoir TINY PIECES OF SKULL deals with my time hustling in Chicago in 1978 and 1980...A new novel - the fantasy RHAPSODY OF BLOOD 1 - Ritual will appear in 2012.


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