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Conklin explores gender identity in story collection

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Photograph: Emily Ray Reese
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Author Lydia Conklin

In the short story collection Rainbow Rainbow, author Lydia Conklin includes a story called "Pioneer" in which a young girl starts to question her gender identity when she is forced to act out the Oregon Trail with her class. WGCU's Cary Barbor talked with the author about the story on the latest Gulf Coast Life Book Club.

“That story is pretty much based on the truth, which is …it’s about a trans character who is realizing their gender identity for the first time throughout the course of the story because of this moment where the school is saying, all right, you have to dress now like you’re in colonial times," said Conklin. "In the 80s, you could just wear pants every day if you’re a girl and didn’t feel comfortable dressing in feminine attire. But when you have to join a pageant in the 1800s, it’s very much like you have to be in drag, it feels like. I did actually do the same thing the character did in fifth grade and dress as an ox to get around the gender roles and thinking I would be so stealth and it would be the better choice. But then in the end everybody of course just stared at me and was so weirded out by my choice.”

Hear the rest of the conversation on the Gulf Coast Life Book Club.

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