Female-only Welsh publisher invites submissions from trans authors

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Trans and non-binary authors can submit work to a state-funded publisher intended for female writers, prompting concerns that it has “caved to ideology”.

Honno was established as an independent press in 1986 to promote writing by female authors in Wales, and receives government grant funding to continue its mission of exclusively putting out women’s literature.

However, the publisher has now issued a call for new writers that has invited those who “identify as women” to submit their work, stating that what it takes as the criteria for a woman will include people who are “non-binary and transgender”.

The open invitation has caused concern among authors who have worked with Honno, who fear the organisation has “caved to ideology” and removed a valued female-only service.

‘Identify as a woman’

In a public call for new work, Honno stated that it was looking for new short stories by those who “reside in Wales or are Welsh born and are a woman or identify as a woman”.

The standard submission criteria for the publisher stated that writers hoping to have their work published must meet two criteria, that “they are female and that they are of Welsh birth or residence”.

But as part of the new call for submissions, Honno has said that the criteria for “women” means “women or those who identify as women”, adding:  “We also include non-binary and transgender.”

One author who has worked with Honno fears that the publisher has “caved to ideology”, saying: “Whether it’s to protect their funding or because they’ve disconnected their collective brain from reality, or they’re playing the woke card, I don’t know. Either way, it’s shocking. And heart-breaking.

“They are the only women-only press in the UK, publishing books by women for over 30 years. They are trashing three decades of integrity.”

‘Linguistic trick’

Joan Smith, feminist author of the work Misogynies, has also shared concerns about the open call for work by non-binary and trans writers, stating it is another example of removing “spaces supposedly reserved for women”, saying: “The moment you invite people who identify as a woman to take part, what you’re offering becomes mixed.

“It’s a linguistic trick but it doesn’t disguise what’s happening.”

The Aberystwyth-based co-operative Honno, which roughly means “the female one who is elsewhere” in Welsh, receives financial support from the Books Council of Wales, which contributes taxpayer-funded grant funding on behalf of the Welsh Government.  

The Book Council of Wales’s guidance for those applying for grant funding states that one of its priorities as an organisation is to support books “that are representative of the diversity of society and with consideration given to articulating the life experiences of black, Asian and minority ethnic writers, as well as others with the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010”.

The publisher, the Book Council for Wales and the Welsh Government have been contacted for comment.

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