By Domenica Di Piazza, editorial director of Twenty-First Century Books
I'm beyond thrilled that LGBTQ+ Athletes Claim the Field: Striving for Equality (TFCB, Fall 2016) is a finalist in this year's Young Adult Literature category for the Minnesota Book Awards. The book's brilliant author, Kirstin Cronn-Mills, will be at the award ceremony along with Alex Jackson Nelson. Alex is a certified ASL interpreter and the director of training and a senior therapist at RECLAIM!, a non-profit agency that provides mental health services to queer and trans youth in Minneapolis. Alex identifies as transgender and contributed the introduction to the book and served as our much respected consultant throughout the research, writing, and production life of this project.
I invited Kirstin and Alex to share some thought about working on this book together.
This book is important because seeing reflections of ourselves makes us real. Reflections can magically create a world where existing authentically becomes possible. Not only inside of our identities, but alongside the sports we play, the music we listen to, and the communities we build. Seeing others like me in the world has created an opening for me to live authentically in my trans identity. Through her writing and advocacy in the LGBTQ+ community, Kirstin has created a platform for me to support the visibility of queer and trans folks through writing. I am grateful for the projects that have formed our friendship, and I’m thrilled that this book has been recognized for the Minnesota Book Awards.
I’ve known Alex for more than ten years, and I deeply respect all I’ve learned from him in our work together on three different projects. It’s an extra joy to be his friend. Being able to support him and the trans community is something I care deeply about. Creating this book was a way to say, “Hey, these folks are important—important to ALL OF US,” and to participate in a tiny dismantling of barriers for LGBTQ+ kids, especially young LGBTQ+ athletes. It’s also incredible to be recognized by the Minnesota writing community. There is no greater honor than respect from our peers.
Winners will be announced at the ceremony on April 8, 2017. Stay tuned!