Women's Prize book awards defend nominee Torrey Peters against transphobic abuse

The award group have released a statement condemning an attack aimed at author Torrey Peters by members of the Wild Women's Writing Club.

A split screen image of a book cover and a young woman standing against a wall

Women’s Prize, the prestigious UK annual book awards, have released a statement in defence of nominee Torrey Peters following the release of a transphobic open letter signed by a group of cisgender women authors.

The letter condemned Women’s Prize for nominating a transgender author in their annual award for Fiction. 

In their statement on Twitter, Women’s Prize responded to the open letter by stating that: 

“The prize is firmly opposed to any form of discrimination on the basis of race, age, sexuality, gender identity, and all other protected characteristics, and deplores any attempts to malign or bully the judges or the authors.”

 The statement continued on to say that: “The prize’s terms and conditions are very clear and the word ‘woman’ equates to a cis woman or a transgender woman who is legally defined as a woman.” 

While the discussion of the legality of womanhood, and the legality of gender affirmation is a conversation for a different day, Women’s Prize certainly made it clear that it was their every intention to defend their nominated authors from “attempts to malign or bully [them].”

Torrey Peters has been nominated for the annual prize for her novel Detransition Baby, which follows the story of three women, two of whom are transgender, as they embark on the journey of raising a child together. Since the release of the novel early this year, Peters has unfortunately been on the receiving end of transphobic abuse. The novel, however, continues to be a success and is widely praised within the wider literary community. 

The open letter was signed by members of the Wild Women’s Writing Club, including the names of long-dead literary figures such as Daphne Du Maurier, Emily Dickinson, and Willa Cather. The group explained that they were worried about “the threat of harassment by trans extremists and/or cancellation by the book industry” in signing their own names to the letter. Instead, opting to sign using pseudonyms, albeit those of various well-established literary legends.     

Several authors have come out in support of Peters, with Naoise Dolan—author of Exciting Times—taking to Twitter to write that: “DETRANSITION, BABY is a masterpiece that I’m incredibly proud to be on the longlist with, and that letter is a transphobic disgrace.” 

While this is not the first time Peters has been subjected to online transphobic attacks since the release of her debut novel, she wrote that: “I’m very honored to have DETRANSITION, BABY long-listed for the Women’s Prize. I was eligible this year due to work by those before me—especially Akwaeke Emezi. Once again, I am indebted to a sacrifice made by a black trans person. Congratulations to my fellow longlisters.”

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