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Twitter Spat Costs Author Literary Prize Nomination

Lauren Hough, a lesbian, says she was wrongly painted as transphobic
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 22, 2022 12:34 PM CDT

A New York Times best-selling author says her debut memoir has been removed from contention for a Lambda Literary Award following a dust-up on Twitter. Lauren Hough's essay collection Leaving Isn't The Hardest Thing—including tales from her time as a cult member, Air Force airman, cable guy, and bouncer at a gay club—spent two weeks atop the New York Times best-seller list upon its debut last year and was set to be nominated for a Lambda Literary Award in the lesbian memoir category, the Times reports. However, Hough now says the book was withdrawn from contention after she defended Sandra Newman's upcoming novel The Men, which critics painted as transphobic.

Hough, a friend of Newman's, urged critics to hold off on criticism until they had read the book, in which "all people with a Y chromosome mysteriously disappear from the face of the earth," according to publisher Grove Atlantic. Other books with this premise "have erased the existence of trans people," Hough writes on Substack. But "it was important to [Newman] not to do that, to be as sensitive as possible." Hough denies she was transphobic in response to critics. But the leadership of Lambda Literary, a group that advocates for LGBTQ writers, said "in a series of now-deleted tweets, Lauren Hough exhibited what we believed to be a troubling hostility toward transgender critics and trans-allies."

"We cannot knowingly reward individuals who exhibit disdain and disrespect for the autonomy of an entire segment of the community we have committed ourselves to supporting," added interim co-executive directors Cleopatra Acquaye and Maxwell Scales, per the Times. Acquaye noted Hough's tweets "did not uplift other queer people and these voices." Hough likens this to "character assassination by vague accusation based on Twitter rumors." She adds she told "people—not one group, but people—to read the book." In what may be some consolation, Hough's memoir was announced Monday as a finalist for a Triangle Award for best lesbian nonfiction, the AP reports. (Read more LGBTQ stories.)

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