Image courtesy of V. Tanner

Eighteen-year-old V. Tanner was trading tweets about #translit—led by trans writers Oliver Bendorf and Gabrielle Bellot—Tuesday when he had a big idea.

The non-binary Washington teen, who prefers the pronoun "they," realized over the course of the online conversation that members of the non-binary trans community might have a hard time finding each other.


"The discussion was about… trans writers, what we write, who we are, what we want to see and what we feel is missing," Tanner told me in a phone interview. "I met several other trans people in the process… [and] I realized I was really wanting a database of trans writers."

And so they came up with a solution, in the form of a database for non-binary trans artists and writers that aims to serve as both a professional and personal network. "I think it’s gonna be really great, especially for trans people of color who often have difficulty finding each other," Tanner explained.

Tanner is no stranger to solving problems. Back in March, the teen started It's Mx Actually, or IMA, an online platform for non-binary trans artists to express themselves. The idea for IMA was borne out of a genuine need: Tanner was looking for a platform for non-binary trans creators, and couldn't find one. So they made one themselves, and made it as welcoming as possible. "You can contribute videos, podcasts, personal essays, or really anything you can think of," according to the site.

So far, Tanner told me, most of the content posted to IMA has been about gender—but Tanner, who edits the site themselves but is in the process of bringing on three additional editors, said it doesn't discriminate according to content. As long as you are an non-binary trans artist, IMA's got room for you.


Running IMA means that Tanner already has access to a helpful database. That, plus their own trans network and not-insignificant Twitter following, helped Tanner put the plan in motion.

Just days after #translit, Tanner's already set up a website for those artists who'd like to be included in the database, and have started mocking up what the database will look like.

Image courtesy of V. Tanner

And Tanner has already gotten feedback about how the database can best serve its users. People want to use it to "grow their community, to make new friends, and to commission people" for projects, they told me.

A database of minority writers is not a new idea—The Writers of Color website offers potential employers a list of, well, writers of color, replete with each one's coverage areas, clips, and contact information. "We aim to create more visibility for writers of color, ease their access to publications, and build a platform that is both easy for editors to use and accurately represents the writers," the website proclaims.

The authors of that database, Durga Chew-Bose, Jazmine Hughes, Vijith Assar, and Buster Bylander, see it as a tangible response to a frustrating conversation. "Don’t you hate when editors use 'I don’t know enough writers of color' as an excuse to back up the homogeneity of their publications?" they write on the site, "We do too."

If this database is successful, Tanner hopes to make ones for trans men and women as well.

For now, they've got their work cut out for them.

This piece has been updated with the correct spelling of Gabrielle Bellot's name.

Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.