She added: “I expected more from Lambda than character assassination by vague accusation based on Twitter rumors, for telling people — not one group, but people — to read the book.”
Acquaye and Scales said in a joint interview that an independent judging panel and Lambda Literary had both contributed to the decision to withdraw the book from contention, and said that the organization had not taken a position on “The Men.”
As a result of Hough’s posts, Scales said in the interview, “many trans folks felt like they couldn’t, they were not allowed to be in these conversations.” Acquaye said that the posts “did not uplift other queer people and these voices.”
In her Substack newsletter, Hough said that she had discussed “The Men” with Newman, including “how to make the book recognize the reality of transgender people.”
“Other books that started from this premise — all the men disappear — have erased the existence of trans people, and it was important to her not to do that, to be as sensitive as possible,” Hough wrote. “So when I saw people assuming that simple idea was the entirety of the plot, I told them to read the book before assuming the worst.”
For this, she wrote, she was labeled a trans-exclusionary radical feminist — something she denied.
(Previous books with similar, gender-eliminating or -separating scenarios “were written before there was much attention on anything beyond a gender binary,” said Brian Attebery, an English professor at Idaho State University who has written about gender in science fiction.)
Hough lamented that Twitter users had so harshly criticized a book they had not read.
“They call it ‘call-out culture,’” she wrote on Substack, “because bullying is wrong, unless your target is someone you don’t like, for social justice reasons, of course.”
In an email Monday, Newman declined to comment on her forthcoming book but confirmed Hough’s account of their friendship. “She’s also a person of great integrity and decency,” added Newman. “And she’s an amazing writer whose book deserves all the awards.”