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Author Torrey Peters makes history as first trans woman nominated for Women’s Prize for Fiction

Emma Powys Maurice March 11, 2021
Women's Prize for Fiction

Trans author Torrey Peters' debut novel has been nominated for the Women's Prize for Fiction (Instagram/@torreyadora)

Torrey Peters has made history as the first trans woman to be nominated for the £30,000 Women’s Prize for Fiction.

The author was selected for her debut novel Detransition, Baby, described by judge Elizabeth Day as a “modern comedy of manners viewed through the lens of three women, both trans and cis”.

The novel follows the story of trans woman Reese, her former partner Ames, who has detransitioned, and cis woman Katrina, with whom Ames has been having an affair and is now pregnant.

Peters’ placing on the 16-book long-list comes after organisers clarified in 2020 that the Women’s Prize for Fiction was open to any “cis woman, a transgender woman or anyone who is legally defined as a woman or of the female sex”.

“It’s a prize for women, and trans women are women, so…” said chair of judges and author Bernardine Evaristo.

Commenting on the nomination, Peters said she was “indebted” to Akwaeke Emezi, the non-binary trans author who was longlisted for the award in 2019.

Emezi subsequently shunned the Women’s Prize in 2020 after organisers asked for information on their sex as defined “by law”, prompting a review of the award’s conditions.

“I’m very honoured to have Detransition, Baby long-listed for the Women’s Prize,” she tweeted. “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.”

On Wednesday (10 March), organisers said they asked publishers to confirm eligibility “when submitting and confirming again at longlist stage”.

Joanna Prior, chairman of the award’s board, previously added: “In our terms and conditions, the word ‘woman’ equates to a cis woman, a transgender woman or anyone who is legally defined as a woman or of the female sex.”

Torrey Peters is up against six British authors, five Americans and two Irish writers alongside a Canadian, Barbadian and Ghanaian/American novelist.

The long-list includes the gay author and former winner Ali Smith, and comedian-turned-novelist Dawn French, who was picked for her “warm, compassionate, funny” look at motherhood, Because of You.

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