The deadliest year on record for the trans community was 2020. A study released by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found that people who identify as LGBTQ are nearly four times as likely as non-LGBTQ people to be a victim of a violent crime. This is America in 2020, a world that startlingly aligns with the dystopian landscape Catherine Hernandez (Scarborough) manifests in her bold second novel, Crosshairs. Hernandez, a Canadian playwright, novelist and queer woman of color, shepherds her protagonist, Kay, the gay son of Filipino and Jamaican immigrants, through a future Canada in which Black, brown and LGBTQ people are hunted, lynched and sent to concentration camps for "the better" of society.
Kay--born Keith Nopuente--has spent his whole life hiding, caught under the critical eye of his Filipino mother, who wishes to "cleanse" him of his homosexuality. When he slips away after a particularly horrifying encounter with the church, he meets a cast of vibrant, gorgeous characters in the drag scene, who teach him to ease into a wig and transform into Queen Kay. But the world outside the nightclubs is growing increasingly hostile, as economic and social injustice collide to give birth a fascist regime led by the paramilitary Boots, who have started rounding up "Others"--marginalized people--in an effort known as the Renovation. After witnessing one too many attacks, Kay goes into hiding with a white woman masquerading as a supporter of the Renovation. What follows is a heart-wrenching search for freedom, and a poignant attack on the complacency and apathy of so-called allies in an increasingly hostile world. --Lauren Puckett, freelance writer