The Appendix is a book about a personal response to transphobia in the media and trying to focus on joy despite this hostility. Part of the 404 Ink ‘Inklings’ series that take a big idea in a pocket-sized format, it is almost a mini-memoir, a snapshot of Liam Konemann reacting to media transphobia, navigating being a gay trans man today, and thinking about his and others’ futures.
Though I preordered this as one of the Inklings series, I have to take a moment to say I would’ve definitely judged it by its cover and picked it up regardless of topic, as someone who has been wearing Doc Martens since they were 15 (now I’m wondering if there’s a future Inkling on shoes as personal identity). It is also just a really beautifully designed cover.
Anyway, to the inside of the book. Konemann starts with his previous version of ‘The Appendix’: noting down transphobia in the media that he came across in day-to-day life, without looking for it. The rules he created meant he couldn’t go searching for something he saw people hinting about online, which is maybe an under-appreciated way of getting caught up reading hostile content because you want to understand what people are whispering about on Twitter, but even with limits, the list of course grew and grew. When his mental health was affected, he started questioning doing this, and whether energy is better directed towards joy and beauty, and this kind of transformation of being trapped reading online hate into moving past that to focusing on the real and the present feels like an important message to be sharing.
On a personal note, as a non-binary person there were some little relatable moments (that childhood illicit thrill of being seen as a boy, even momentarily; everyone’s reactions to Elliot Page) that were fun, and though personal essays and memoirs don’t need relatable moments to enjoy them, these do fit in with some of what Konemann says in terms of what models he had not only for being a trans man, but also for coming out to people. On the other hand, as Konemann himself notes, this book is his own experience and is not universal, and finding joy, solidarity, and safety is not going to be the same for everyone.
As with the previous Inklings book I read (Love That Journey For Me by Emily Garside), I think the size and length of this series is a real positive, making them easy to sit down and read, and Konemann tackles ideas that could take up a lot more space (and other people have done so) in a concise way through the lens of personal experience and growth. It’s a personal book, but it’s also a chance to reflect (and look at a cool picture of Doc Martens). If The Appendix can make more people do what a lot of trans people on the internet have been calling for, and stop sharing all the transphobic tweets and news stories across everyone’s timelines, giving them more engagement and clicks, and think more about sharing content that will support trans people and further trans joy, then that could be nice.