Hello ! This summer we once again have a cohort of interns working on several projects, one of which includes a month-long research and blogging project called Queer Zine of the Gay. We will be posting just about every other day for ‘Pride Month’ 2023 on a zine within our holdings, which will hopefully be new to even the most experienced zinesters. So join us on this journey through QZAP’s holdings 3-4 times a week, (usually Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) here on the QZAP blog! The first Queer Zine of the Gay is…
The Transgender Herb Garden: an MtF guide to disconnecting oneself from big pharma by FlyingOtter is a cottagecore-anarchist zine focused on the use of herbs to help facilitate physical transition rather than relying on pharmaceutical companies. This zine was published in 2009 and upon some supplemental research seems to be one of the few zines made by FlyingOtter. This zine is a one-off, but is also held by other queer zine archives, so it must have circulated well.
FlyingOtter starts by addressing the fact that this is not medical advice, but is rather suggestions on herbs to eat for other MtF people that may help them appear more feminine as the herbs helped her. However, ze suggests that anyone can read this and get advice from it, as “trying different plants and foods will inform you about yourself”.
“As you take the time to sense how it makes you feel , how your body reacts, in its slightest movements and ways — as you come to know your own body, that is the key to transforming it, maintaining it, and healing it.”
Ze recommends eating the herbs raw, though teas also can be useful, as well as finding a good balance for how often you consume them. Ze also suggests switching up the herbs you’re eating, especially if you’re MtF, as “A bio-woman’s biology/hormones change throughout a month, no reason to not do the same.” Some of the herbs ze suggests include sage, fennel, and clover, which are all wonderful nonbinary names. FlyingOtter says that they won’t stimulate breast growth, but will help add fullness to the face and thighs, while helping create an hourglass figure.
Some other zines (page 8) cite this zine as purely anecdotal, which is true, but they also point out the information on transplanting the plants Ze does discuss is rather helpful. We also personally don’t mind how anecdotal the zine is. In reading it we get a much better sense of the person writing it, the environment and feeling that ze carries with zir than information on the plants ze suggests using. But that doesn’t mean we’re not learning anything from FlyingOtter. Ze very clearly has a lot of gardening knowledge, including information about the amount of nitrogen carried by certain seeds that will add to your soil, and where things should be planted depending upon use. Ze also advocates for community herb gardening with female bodied people, and breaking away from the machine of capitalism, which are easy to get behind.
One of the most interesting parts of the zine is where FlyingOtter discusses gender as a construct of capitalism, and looks forward to the day where there is no gender. Seeing this through their perspective we think is rather telling of where the queer community was in regards to nonbinary and agender genders in 2009, and we highly recommend reading it for yourself.
⚠️ ⚠️ Additional Advisory Note!!! If interested in using herbs similarly, lovely reader, you should consult with professional herbalists when embarking on using herbs in a medicinal or health-boosting capacity.
Kit Gorton is a current intern at QZAP and graduate student at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in library science and English, with focuses on archives and media studies. A rather queer Hobbit, Kit is most often seen collecting things (such as leaves, rocks, books and the like) or doting on their cat, Good Omens Written in Collaboration by Neil Gaiman and Sir Terry Pratchett.