Connecting with the heart of their story

Bookmarks spotlights the personalities and published books of faculty, staff and alumni.

Today, writer and filmmaker Joshua M. Ferguson, BA’09 (Film Studies), author of Me, Myself, They: The Future is Non-Binary, answers 12 questions on their ‘bookishness’ and writing.

Ferguson is a non-binary trans (they/them) filmmaker, author and advocate born in Brantford, Ont., and raised in Napanee, Ont. They harness their formal academic research, previous experience as an advocate and passion to make a difference to fight for legal recognition for non-binary people in Canada and beyond.

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What book do we find you reading tonight?

Seven Fallen Feathers by Tanya Talaga.

How you decide what to read? Reviews, word of mouth, maybe occasionally judge a book by its cover?

I never judge a book by its cover! But, I would say that I’m drawn to books that aim to make cultural interventions with their stories.

Name one book you wish you had written.

While I believe in writing my own stories, and providing a platform to my community, I was always inspired by Leslie Feinberg’s Transgender Warriors. Leslie has passed on, and hir work was ahead of hir time. It’s the type if book that I think we need right now.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown. I never want to disconnect from the powerful and magical stories of childhood.

Any genres you avoid?

Horror.

If you could require every university president to read one book, what would it be?

Mine when it comes out! (Laughs.) University presidents need to understand the importance of non-binary inclusion, and reading my story and the experiences I faced at schools, in particular, will shine a light on the many non-binary people who study at campuses that, in many ways, fail to even recognize that non-binary students, professors, and staff members exist. But there are other stories that would open eyes to the experience, including Gender Failure by Ivan E. Coyote and Rae Spoon and Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein.

What sort of objects are must-haves in your writing environment?

Crystals, light, sometimes the energies around me in public places, and music.

You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?

Carrie Fisher, Lena Dunham and Michel Foucault.

How do you explain what your latest book is about to them?

Me, Myself, They is a story about a resilient little gender-fluid kid who faced a lot of abuse, isolation, harassment. The kid got lost for awhile, married a cis-man named Florian who gifted them with light and hope, got a PhD and ended up conquering their fears to make a difference with their life. The story of this book is about surviving and redefining a system that failed to see people who are neither men nor women.

What is the best line you have ever written?

I’ll get back to you when I write it.

Who would you want to write your life story?

Whoever truly sees me and connects with the heart of my story. I wish Carrie Fisher was still here. She would be my first choice.

Me, Myself, They: The Future is Non-Binary (House of Anansi) by Joshua M. Ferguson will be available through The Book Store at Western and other outlets next spring.