Cover Photo: Photograph courtesy of the author/stamp by Eliza Harris
Photograph courtesy of the author/stamp by Eliza Harris

What Lies Behind the Words: On Translating While Trans

For me, the real litmus test of fluency has always been: Can I use this language to convince a native speaker that I exist?

The Thirty Names of Night Les Trente Noms de La Nuit,

The Thirty Names of Nightiel.

un artistaunartistaa person who . . .

sono un maschio uso pronomi maschili o neutrali -o-uusono uno scrittore sono stanco

they she, . he, lui,

I have need of I needit pleases meI like it

becomeI started translating, I became to translate. diventare The situation has become difficult, hes become strange. become, I have arrived—I am arrived.

theres no tripe for cats nothing doing, theres no trips for cats.

My favorite translations are the ones that make room for the reader to feel at home in the language while also never letting them forget that what they are reading is not the original.


Les Trente Noms de la Nuit t4tielFrom the Stars in the Sky to the Fish of the Sea,


Zeyn Joukhadar is the author of the novels The Thirty Names of Night, winner of the Lambda Literary Award and the Stonewall Book Award, and The Map of Salt and Stars, which won the Middle East Book Award and was a finalist for the Goodreads Choice Awards and the Wilbur Smith Adventure Writing Prize. His work has appeared in the Kink anthology, Salon, The Paris Review, and elsewhere, and has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He guest edited Mizna's 2020 Queer + Trans Voices issue and is a member of the Radius of Arab American Writers as well as a mentor with the Periplus Collective.

Photo credit: Sara Deidda, 2020.