Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2020-09-16
DOWNLOAD ISSUE
About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

Sponsor

  WINDY CITY TIMES

BOOKS Trans author talks 'layered identity' in new memoir
by Lauren Emily Whalen
2019-03-27

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


"I wanted to be two things when I grew up: a writer and a boy."

Life has never been easy for Nate Cannon. Diagnosed with major depression and bipolar disorder at 12 years old, the trans author lost his "sense of gender identity" at the same time. His mother did her best to raise him as a girl because "she thought society wouldn't embrace me," he said.

What followed were life-changing sports injuries, a teenage suicide attempt, substance abuse and a neurological disorder diagnosis—all while Cannon realized his gender-identity disorder wasn't going to fix itself. Dying to Hang with the Boys, the author's second memoir, chronicles Cannon's transition and his journeys in physical and mental health.

"This is a book that explores the consequences of being unable to express one's gender identity," Cannon said via phone from his Minnesota home. "If I had been able to transition earlier, would my life have gone differently? I don't know the answer to that."

While identifying as a lesbian, Cannon wrote Running on a Mind Rewired, a memoir of his time as the only girl on an all-boys hockey team, his slide into drug dependency and near-death experience at 17 and his subsequent recovery. The book is used as a teaching tool in high schools, colleges, hospitals and treatment centers—and is still published under Cannon's birth name. The author prefers it this way: "I feel like that was a story that belonged to who I was when I was Jennifer," he said. "And that portion of my identity and my life needs to be honored."

Dying to Hang with the Boys takes a deep dive into Cannon's suicide attempt, something he was initially discouraged from writing about. "When I first pitched this book, I was told, 'You should leave [suicide] out entirely,'" he said. However, Cannon knew he couldn't leave out his experience. "The book is not intended to glamorize suicide, [but] this is the gory stuff you don't want to hear," he said. "I'm hoping not to put out a story that's going to lead someone to engage in similar acts … but I hope it will give people the courage and determination to stay with us and keep fighting."

Fighting is part of Cannon's daily routine: since he was diagnosed with acquired dystonia, he has to contend with his own body.

"A mix of Parkinson's and MS is how I describe [dystonia]," Cannon said of the neurological disorder. "It feels like someone is reaching in and twisting my muscles with a dishrag." Though dystonia can also be genetic, Cannon feels his is a result of "rewiring my brain: chemical dependency, playing hockey and trying to hang with the boys," not to mention the damaging shoulder injury he sustained when another player gunned for him on the ice.

Running has helped both Cannon's recovery process and his dystonia: sober for 15 years now, he has also completed 14 marathons in the past decade. "It started early in my sobriety [as] putting on a pair of running shoes and getting on a treadmill, figuring out a natural way to boost those brain chemicals and feel good," he said.

"I'm glad I had that training when I developed dystonia in 2006. Dystonia pulls you off to one side. The muscles create push and pull, similar to Parkinson's, causing erratic signals to be sent to the muscles," Cannon said. "The reciprocal motion [of running] has been very helpful for me."

Cannon said running helped with gender issues as well. "Running brought to the surface that I had been confusing my sexual orientation with my gender identity," he said. "As a result of my sports bra, I was chafing. I thought, 'if I didn't have [breasts] this wouldn't be happening.' And that triggered another set of thoughts." Though he still wears women's running shoes, Cannon said "I think companies have gotten better about gender-neutral colors."

Next month, Cannon will run another marathon, do promotion events for Dying to Hang with the Boys and further his successful career in public speaking.

"Something about being on the stage feels comfortable for me," Cannon said. Though he did a bit of public speaking in college—mostly centering around the chemical dependency he was battling at the time—Cannon's career really took off in 2012, after he connected with the National Alliance of Mental Illness ( NAMI ). "I started in small residential mental health facilities, which became conferences," said Cannon, "and suddenly I was getting requests to come in and talk on a variety of issues: mental health, suicide prevention, neurological illness and the layered identity of being a transgender man living with a physical and mental illness."

While Cannon's audiences have ranged from social service professionals to the "brain health" community, he's done a lot of work with corrections employees of late. "When I first got connected with NAMI, I indicated I wasn't comfortable speaking with police," Cannon said. "And yet, [police] seem like an audience that has been able to hear my message about how you work with someone who's transgender to best honor their identity." Most recently, the police department of St. Paul, Minnesota hired Cannon to train 600 officers on its new transgender policy.

This spring, Cannon will have an essay published in Queer Voices: Prose, Poetry and Pride. The anthology "will feature artists primarily from the Twin Cities involved in the Queer Voices reading series, which was one of the longest-running reading series in the country," Cannon said. "Pretty excited about that!"

When asked what he'll write next, Cannon said, "I do think having finished this book, I set myself up for a trilogy and I didn't even realize it. I may have to write a third book—you never know!"

Dying to Hang with the Boys is available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold.

For more about the author, visit RunningRewired.com .


facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email





Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


  ARTICLES YOU MIGHT LIKE

Gay News

Trans candidate McBride makes history again 2020-09-16 - Sarah McBride—who, in 2016, was the first openly transgender person to address the Democratic National Convention—made history again with a primary victory, setting ...


Gay News

MOMBIAN True stories, trans tales and more in new picture books 2020-09-16 - New books can be a delightful relief in these days of quarantine. Here are some of the many new LGBTQ-inclusive picture books that ...


Gay News

Gerber/Hart reveals future plans 2020-09-16 - Gerber/Hart Library and Archives, 6500 N. Clark St., hosted several relatively informal, socially distanced gatherings the weekend of Sept. 12-13 to let community ...


Gay News

WORLD Argentina pro-trans move, Canada survey, Uganda groups, sports items 2020-09-15 - Argentina President Alberto Fernandez is now requiring 1% of public sector jobs be set aside for transgender people, LGBTQ Nation noted, citing Pagina ...


Gay News

Submissions sought for Lambda Literary Awards 2020-09-10 - Submissions are now being sought for the 33rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards, which honors the best of LGBTQ+ literature. Due to COVID-19, the ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Anti-Trump ruling, crime items, Equality California, Texas school 2020-09-08 - A federal judge slapped a hold on a Trump administration rule that allows healthcare providers to refuse services to LGBTQ people on religious ...


Gay News

Wade among Streetwise's most inspiring Chicagoans 2020-09-07 - LaSaia Wade—the founder and executive director of Brave Space Alliance—has been chosen as one of Streetwise newspaper's 20 Most Inspiring Chicagoans of 2020. ...


Gay News

Black trans disabled Chicagoan on long quest for affordable housing 2020-09-02 - When Garnet Williams was set to enter their final year at Columbia College in 2014, they began to experience pain in their lower ...


Gay News

Filmmakers look back at pioneering movie 'Transsexuals' 2020-09-02 - Chicago-based Media Burn Archive presented an online screening of the rarely-seen 1971 documentary Transsexuals Aug. 27, and hosted members of its original crew, ...


Gay News

NATIONAL Marsha P. Johnson, Anchorage, electoral items, gay author dies 2020-09-02 - Marsha P. Johnson—the iconic transgender activist who was a central figure in New York City's LGBTQ+-liberation movement—will get a monument in her hometown ...


 



Copyright © 2020 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.

 

 

 

TRENDINGBREAKINGPHOTOS

Sponsor
Sponsor


 



About WCMG Publications News  Entertainment Features Donate Bars & Clubs Calendar Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage


About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.