Love Lives Here with Archie Arnold and Rowan Jetté Knox

Hello!

All the love in our queer families.

Today we meet Archie Arnold and we’re talking about the book that saved his life: Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family by Rowan Jetté Knox.

Archie is a grant writer working at a community college in Minnesota. His career in grants and fundraising spans twenty years.

Rowan Jetté Knox is an author, speaker and human rights advocate. His work in LGBTQ2S+ inclusion and mental health awareness has sparked change worldwide. was humbled to be inducted into the 2021 Order of Ottawa for his advocacy of transgender, gender-creative, and non-binary youth.

Love Lives Here: A Story of Thriving in a Transgender Family is an inspirational story of accepting and embracing two trans people in a family–a family who shows what’s possible when you “lead with love.”. Told with remarkable candor and humor, and full of insight into the challenges faced by trans people, Love Lives Here is a beautiful story of transition, frustration, support, acceptance, and, of course, love.

Content warning: This episode contains brief mentions of interpersonal violence and suicide.

Connect with Rowan

website: rowanjetteknox.com
instagram: @maven_of_mayhem
facebook: facebook.com/mavenofmayhem
bluesky: @mavenofmayhem.bsky.social

Our Bookshop

Visit our Bookshop for  new releases, current bestsellers, banned books, critically acclaimed LGBTQ books, or peruse the books featured on our podcasts: bookshop.org/shop/thisqueerbook

To purchase Love Lives Here visit: https://bookshop.org/a/82376/9780735235175

Become an Associate Producer!

Become an Associate Producer of our podcast through a $20/month sponsorship on Patreon! A professionally recognized credit, you can gain access to Associate Producer meetings to help guide our podcast into the future! Get started today: patreon.com/thisqueerbook

Credits

Host/Founder: J.P. Der Boghossian
Executive Producer: Jim Pounds
Associate Producers: Archie Arnold, K Jason Bryan and David Rephan, Natalie Cruz, Jonathan Fried, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Olila, Joe Perazzo, Bill Shay, and Sean Smith
Patreon Subscribers: Stephen D., Stephen Flamm, Ida Göteburg, Thomas Michna, and Gary Nygaard.
Creative and Accounting support provided by: Gordy Erickson
Music and SFX credits: visit thiqueerbook.com/music

Quatrefoil Library

Quatrefoil has created a curated lending library made up of the books featured on our podcast! If you can’t buy these books, then borrow them! Link: https://libbyapp.com/library/quatrefoil/curated-1404336/page-1

Transcript

[theme song]

J.P. Der Boghossian
Hey everyone.

Coming out. We’ve all gone through it in some way or another coming out to our parents, our partners, our children. And each time there is that doubt, no matter how big, no matter or small, that doubt of whether or not they will still love us after they know us.

Today, we’re talking about love and family within two particular families, where both a child and then parent begin their gender affirmation and transition.

My name is J.P. Der Boghossian. I’m your host. And you’re listening This Queer Book Saved My Life a 2024 GLAAD Media Award nominee for Outstanding Podcast!

[theme music ends]

[upbeat curious music]

Archie Arnold
I’m Archie. I am a grant writer at a community college in Minnesota. I am a partner and a parent and a trans man.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Archie…as a grant writer, is very good at his job. Like, really good. When I asked him to give me a ballpark figure as to how many dollars he’s secured for the colleges and organizations he’s worked for, it was, well, a hearty figure.

Archie Arnold
I’ve been doing this work for 20 years now, so it would be… We secured, in last year, we secured six million, so in just one year. So I would, if I had to estimate, I would say more than 50 million since I started grant writing twenty years ago.

Rowan Jetté Knox
Hi, I’m Rowan. I am an author, a speaker, human rights advocate. I specialize in mental health and LGBTQ issues. I am a parent and a partner and I have a great dog.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Here’s a fun fact. Rowan was inducted into the 2021 Order of Ottawa for his advocacy of transgender, gender-creative, and non-binary youth along with his work helping others with mental health issues.

And, what pray tell, is the Order of Ottawa? Well, per the City of Ottawa’s website, it is a prestigious civic award that recognizes exceptional citizens. Those who have achieved the highest level of excellence. And those who have brought honor and prestige to themselves and made significant contributions to the community that benefit the citizens of Ottawa.

Rowan is the author of the best-selling memoir Love Lives Here and his new memoir One Sunny Afternoon just came out at the end of .

And Rowan’s work focuses on what becomes possible within our own families when we lead with love.

Here’s my conversation with Archie and Rowan.

[music ends]

J.P. Der Boghossian
Archie, what is the book that saved your life?

Archie Arnold
The book that saved my life is Love Lives Here by Rowan Knox.

J.P. Der Boghossian
And how would you describe it to folks?

Archie Arnold
It is the story of a family with a lot of love and a lot of gender exploration and a lot of hope.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Yes, it’s going to be a theme for today, I imagine. And Rowan, please describe your book to us and what folks should expect when they open up that first page.

Rowan Jetté Knox
So this is a memoir of my family’s story. And when you open the first page, the first sentence is, she told me in the car. I bring us right to this pivotal place in our lives where my partner, who I knew as my husband for years, but is in fact my wife, comes out to me as a trans woman. And then I take us sort of back through

The story of how we got there, and that also involves our child, who was at the time, coming out as trans as well. So they came out first, and then my wife came out. And it was a really, it’s a story about how to do things right, I think. Making mistakes, but choosing love time and time again. So we just thought it was a really good story to put out in the world.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Absolutely. And Archie Arnold, how did the book come to you?

Archie Arnold
The book came to me because I was following Rowan on social media and I can’t remember exactly how Rowan showed up in my feed except that I have a trans daughter and so anyone who talks about trans rights is obviously very interesting to me. So I had been following Rowan on social media and you know Rowan talked about the book and I was like this.

sounds like something I really need. So checked it out and yeah here we are.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Can you take us through those first moments when you were reading the book?

Archie Arnold
Hmm. I read the book when I Had come out to myself, but not many other people about the fact that I’m trans and I Knew I needed to tell my partner and I was terrified of telling my partner I had no idea how he was going to respond We’ve been married years

and I was petrified. I was absolutely incapable of movement because I was so afraid of what would be waiting for me on the other side of coming out. And I didn’t see a whole lot of hopeful narratives about relationships when one partner came out as trans. And…

There was something about Love Lives Here and hearing Rowan’s story and also seeing some of the parallels, having a trans child, and then going through Rowan’s description of the experience and the anger and the sadness and everything that happened. And then coming out the other side and still loving each other was…

just so powerfully hopeful to me and was really what I needed to make the move to come out and to really start living my life.

J.P. Der Boghossian
As you look back at that time, is there a particular chapter or moment within the book that really stood out to you?

Archie Arnold
There’s a line, and I wish I’d brought my book with me, but it’s something along the lines of, lightning can’t strike the same family twice. And because I did have this sense, and I don’t know, I’m not speaking for all trans people, but for me.

Rowan Jetté Knox
I’m laughing here, I mean, yeah, that is so true.

Archie Arnold
I have struggled a lot with feelings that I am putting people through this, that my transness is, you know, that I’m somehow harming people by coming out. And so I had this real voice in my head that said, you know, he’s already dealing with a trans child and now he’s going to find out his partner is trans. How can I do that to him? Which is all kinds of messed up. But um…

But just seeing that line and realizing, well, yes, lightning can strike more than once and it can be okay.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Take me through that time after reading Love Lives Here. What was that like for you? What was new and possible for you after reading it?

Archie Arnold
It was really like I had a weight lifted off of me. I think I had been searching and searching to see myself in the books that are out there about trans folks. And of course, you know, I can’t find anyone whose experience is just like mine because my experience is mine alone, right? But in particular relationships where people thought they were straight.

and found out they weren’t. And I really wanted to not hear about the bad things that could happen. I was looking for a story where there could be love and attraction and everything on the other side of transitioning. And so after I read the book, I just felt this sense was like a weight had been lifted off. I just…

felt so much more hopeful. That the love that my partner and I have for each other was strong enough that we could work through anything together. And it was really because I just knew that there were other people who had gone through similar things in the world. And that really was all it took.

J.P. Der Boghossian
I’m curious, so in a previous episode, we had a conversation with Ellie Krug and Jennifer Finney Boylan and Ellie was talking about after reading Jenny’s book that she had like literally specific things that she could do, like I know a doctor now that I can talk to and I know like, you know, these, she had like specific takeaways that she could like actions that she could do. Did you feel similar here regarding the conversations you were going to have with your family?

Archie Arnold
Yes, yes, I did not come out in the car, but I did. I hate it. I did just it gave me the sense that, OK, it’s I can just I can do this. I can I can just have the conversation. So.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Absolutely. Representation is a theme that comes up a lot on this show. And you were talking about trying to find that representation. So can you share a little bit more about that feeling of, OK, I’ve found this now. I had one guest that talked about like, you know, they literally felt like tingles on their skin when they were reading their book, or they felt like the hair is going up on the back of their head, not because they were scared, but they were like, here, here it is. It’s finally, you know, it’s happening. So for you, you know, what did that representation mean?

Archie Arnold
There was, I think, just a sense of ease. There was a mental ease that I felt. And I think it was too reading about Rowan’s family and the experience of having a child come out and transition and supporting them that kind of reminded me I was like, Oh, I’ve kind of done some of this work, you know, that we supported our child through coming out as non-binary and then coming out as a trans woman and I knew how deeply I had loved her through all of that and how much my Partner loved her through all of that and that just created this sense of familiarity that then reading the story about You know

Rowan’s wife transitioning was like, oh, OK, I can see how these connect and I can see how what you learn from having a child transition can apply then to when you’re looking at a new situation with your partner transitioning. So it was just a sense of stress being released. Yeah.

J.P. Der Boghossian
And may I ask now, like, how is life for you, Archie Arnold? How would you characterize it, as much as you would like to?

Archie Arnold
Life is awesome. Yeah, yeah. Life is really good. My partner and I just celebrated our th wedding anniversary on October . And thank you. We’re both super busy and didn’t really do anything except go out to dinner. But that was very, very nice. And actually, last year, after I came out to him,

J.P. Der Boghossian
Wow, congratulations.

Archie Arnold
We went on a big th anniversary trip to England and Wales. And he was so supportive throughout that entire thing because I hadn’t started medically transitioning yet. And all of my paperwork, I hadn’t had my name changed. I’m still working on that. So I had to kind of go back in the closet for that trip, which was really stressful and very dysphoric. And he was…

J.P. Der Boghossian
Mm.

Archie Arnold
so wonderful about doing things like if someone offered to take a picture of us, he would have them take the picture on his phone so he could look at it first and sort of be the person to say, I don’t think I’m going to show this to Archie Arnold right now. I don’t think that would do him any good. So he was kind of like my protector and created a safe space for me. So, yeah, our relationship is really great.

J.P. Der Boghossian
I’m so glad to hear that. Good, good. Obviously, family is a big theme of today’s episode and the conversation we’re having. So I’m curious how your understanding of the concept of family may have changed prior to reading this book and how you feel about it today and our daughter is awesome.

Archie Arnold
Yeah, you know, family is really important to me and always has been, but my definition of family has definitely changed. I, both of my parents have passed. I don’t really have any contact with my siblings or any extended family. So my nuclear family, my partner and my daughter are super important. And then my chosen family has become more important than ever.

So I really focus a lot more on the family bonds that we create rather than the ones that are handed to us at birth.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Thank you for that. Rowan, I imagine you’ve told this story so many times. I am curious though, because your background is in journalism, right? Or as you had, right.

Rowan Jetté Knox
Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, I started I started in journalism.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Okay, yay, I was in broadcast journalism for the first part of my career. So I am curious though, like, you know, you had this happening to your family. Can you take me through the decision-making of wanting to say, I’m gonna write a book about this?

Rowan Jetté Knox
That was a tough decision. It was a really tough decision. I had a blog already and that blog was, it was like a parenting blog and I used pseudonyms for my children and my spouse. I, people knew my name, but they didn’t know their names necessarily. When our child came out, you know, they were years old and

my first thought was I’m not going to tell this story. You know, I have to protect their privacy and their safety and that comes first. But they were the one to tell me, you know, I’d like you to reconsider. Because what happened was this comes back to representation, right? So the first thing that they did at the time, so initially, and in Love Lives Here, they come out as a trans girl.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Oh really?

Rowan Jetté Knox
Now it is and we’re not talking about non-binary identities in . So again, no representation or very little out there. So they just knew that they weren’t a boy. They knew for sure they weren’t a boy and that the things going on in their body during puberty were all wrong. They knew that too. So the only option they had, they felt, you know, they typed in, you know, why do I feel like a girl when I’m a boy? And you know, they learned what trans was.

So they initially came out as a trans girl and in the last few years have discovered that they’re more non-binary, which is why I’m using they them pronouns for them now. But, you know, when they went looking as well, they went looking for stories, any stories that showed that the family was affirming that the family was going to support the child when they came out. And there were very, very few of them.

And this scared them so much that they didn’t come out to us for a long time. So you know, and we had not been explicit in our support of trans people. It just wasn’t really on the radar, even though I think I always kind of knew. I don’t think I said it at the beginning, but I’m, I’m a trans guy. I’ve come out recently as a trans man. Um, you know, I’m still, still very, very early in my transition, but, uh, but yes, very, very happy.

But I still wasn’t really fully aware of that at the time. So they, we had never said, we had always said, we’ll love you if you’re gay, we’ll love you if you’re bi, we’ll, you know, but we never said, we’ll love you if you’re trans. As they didn’t know. So they were the one who said to me, look, can you please talk about this? You know, and, and put the story out there because I think other people need to see hope. It was very much about hope. So that was driven by an year old. That’s, that’s why I first.

wrote about it in the blog and then eventually we started to do some media and then eventually I wrote a book.

J.P. Der Boghossian
So going into that, recognizing that you’re probably writing, maybe not the first, I mean, maybe the first, but you’re one of the first books about this, how did that impact the decisions that you were making of things to include, things not to include, and maybe things to model, like this is how you should be using language, like how did all of that factor into the writing of your book?

Rowan Jetté Knox
It’s funny because I was so careful and there’s sort of a joke in the trans community. There’s the pipeline of the really good ally to actually, oops, it turns out I’m trans. That’s me for sure. But yeah, wow, to a T, so disappointing. But I was having a time with it because I was very much like, okay, so I need to…

Um, I need to make sure that I don’t misgender anyone. I need to make sure that I, um, don’t dead name anyone. I don’t use anyone’s old name. That was really important. It was important to my family members. So when you’re writing about trans people, and at the time I was writing as a CIS person about trans people, you had to be especially careful when you do that sort of thing. Um, I wanted to make sure that I honored the trans people and I did not harm them or the community. Right?

I remember my publisher wanted pictures and I said, you can have pictures, but there will be no before and after pictures because that’s not something that they want, right? So it’s that sort of thing where it is about being very, very respectful and mindful. But then also I didn’t make, I think a lot of the early media with trans people, even beyond, so we went at first, I think to trans media was very much,

First of all, they were all played by cis people. And then we were often depicted in this really terrible light, right? We were, you know, we were fooling people where the butt of a joke, we’re serial killers and all sorts of different things, right? But then it got to, okay, we’re gonna write sort of more real, realistic trans stories, but they’re gonna be very tragic. And there’s gonna be this surprise.

Nobody knows this person is trans. And I was like, no, we’re not doing that. So like right from the start, you know that my wife is trans. Right from the start, I call her the girl from Peterborough. It’s immediate. So that was very, very important that I got that right.

J.P. Der Boghossian
As you look back on it now, were there particular sections, chapters that you just loved writing?

Rowan Jetté Knox
Oh, I think I really liked writing about our vow renewal. We did that years in. We just celebrated years together. So, yeah, well, years together and years married. Thank you, thank you. And the last few years have been better than the previous years. I think that I really enjoyed writing. And I don’t know if I enjoyed writing it, but I thought it was really important to…to write from, you know, from my mistakes as well. I really wanted to own any errors that I made, any, because I wanted to use them as teaching moments. I think when it comes to, when we make mistakes as humans, we can carry a lot of shame in those mistakes. Like I’m a bad person because I made a mistake. I use the wrong pronoun or I got something wrong or whatever it might be. And I wanted to turn that around and sort of push the shame away because it doesn’t do anybody any good, including me.

And instead use it for somebody else so they can go, oh, I see how that could be an error. Oops. I could see myself having done that. I’m not going to do that now. And I’ve actually heard from a lot of people who are like, I think that really helped me to, to be able to see what not to do from the start.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Absolutely. Were you, I guess you weren’t necessarily writing it in real time. It was a period of time, like a few years after the events, like after your spouse and your child came out.

Rowan Jetté Knox
I started to write it. So towards the end of the book, Zoe and I kind of went back and forth about whether or not we should include this, but we ultimately felt it was important to talk about gender affirming surgery. And so around the time that she was getting surgery, I was talking to the publisher about putting this book together. So it was, we were about…um three years in four years in at that point. I started writing I think in and it was published in so yeah about four years in about two to three years after Zoe came out.

J.P. Der Boghossian
May I ask, what was the… when you were shopping the book, what was that process like?

Rowan Jetté Knox
Oh, I didn’t shop the book. That’s the fun part. I, um, yeah, I didn’t, I didn’t shop the book. Um, so I got very, very fortunate in, in the book department. I had somebody approach me from a publisher who had gotten wind of my blog. It started reading my blog, really liked it. And then found out from a mutual friend of ours that I was writing a book. So I did this all.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Oh!

Rowan Jetté Knox
I did not have an agent. I did not write a proposal. That book was purely just, I just pure luck, pure, pure luck.

J.P. Der Boghossian
And was the process affirming in terms of going through, you know, edits, galleys, you know, how are you going to promote and sell it? Like, how was that process?

Rowan Jetté Knox
I’m terrible at promoting myself. I’m not a salesperson. I’m always like, I mean, buy my book if you want, I guess. If you like it, if you want to. I remember when they sent me my first edits back. I love telling this story. It was such a blow to my ego.

So I had always been commended for my writing. Like from the time I was really young, everyone was like, Rowan, you’re such a great writer. You should write a book one day. So, you know, I even won awards for my journalism. I mean, et cetera, right? So then I put this book together and I send it into the, I sent it into my editor at the publishing house. And she says, great Rowan, thanks so much. You’ll hear back from me really soon. Well, really soon comes and goes and there’s nothing.

And I had this moment, you know, for maybe five seconds where I thought to myself, maybe it’s just really good. You know, maybe, maybe like, maybe there’s, maybe there’s just not a lot wrong with it. So, you know, she just sort of put it in the, you know, we’ll address this later pile. Good job, Rowan. And then I got an email. Hey Rowan, so listen, I want you to not be upset when you open this up and see all the red.

There was so much red editing on those pages that it was like the book was hemorrhaging. I didn’t know how to write a book. I had never written a book before. So I didn’t know how to, I mean, it was just clearly I was very new and oh, oh yeah, I did that. I wanted to just crawl in a hole for like two days. It was brutal. But

J.P. Der Boghossian
Wow.

Rowan Jetté Knox
I really enjoyed the process. And that’s the thing, when you have a good editor, it makes all the difference in the world. Everybody gives credit to the writer. And I think, of course, we did write the book, but somebody helps you shape that book. Somebody is able to sort of give it a second thought and go, you know, maybe this would be better over here. Do you really need this? And it really sort of helped shape it into the book it is today. And I’m happy, it really did take a village for sure.

J.P. Der Boghossian
That’s great. I’m glad to hear that. Sometimes it can be, you know, I’ve heard stories and told to me here on the show about, you know, particularly from trans and non-binary authors of how, you know, the publisher tries to put in, you know, like you were talking about photos, you know, before after photos or the way they wanna, you know, push the, you know, sales of the book, like to make it, you know, scandalous or whatnot. So I’m glad that wasn’t the case for you. I…

and maybe this is a segue to your current book. Could you tell us though about the experience of publishing and what happened afterwards?

Rowan Jetté Knox
I went through a bit of turmoil after the book came out. So, I mean, all works of art are open to criticism for sure. And I have always been one to welcome constructive criticism because I think it’s really healthy. I make tons of mistakes, I’m not shy about it. And when I make a mistake, I apologize and I try to learn from it.

But what happened after the book was there were rumblings within the trans community that I was taking space away from trans people by telling these stories, that it was not my place to tell the story of my family members. There was talk that I was exploiting them. There was talk that I was controlling them, that I was even maybe possibly abusive, that I was just trying to be… I was a stage mom.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Mm.

Rowan Jetté Knox
And it just grew and grew and grew and it just snowballed a few months after the book came out into just outright character assassination, like outright, like just untruths. These things were not true. I was labeled a narcissist. I was, I mean, it just went on and on and on. I started getting threats. I just, I…

you know, I started getting just, I would get, I wake up in the morning and have tons of hate mail waiting for me. Not from the usual sources. Not, I get, I get a lot of hate mail. I get hate mail almost every day. Um, but not from the people you would think, from people who claim to be within the community. And it just grew into thousands of comments all over the internet. And I have trauma. I have carried trauma my whole life. I had an undiagnosed trauma disorder and it took me back.

to this place where I was a kid getting severely bullied. I was, I guess content warning here, I was set on fire in front of my school when I was a teenager, that sort of thing. And so when those things were not addressed properly in my past, they came roaring back. I ended up becoming suicidal and I nearly ended my life. So that was in . That was during the first wave of the pandemic. And at the very last minute, I drove myself to the hospital and I got the help that I needed. I got diagnosed with a trauma disorder and I ended up in a far better place, but it was a really scary time.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Thank you for sharing that. How did you then connect to your current memoir that’s just coming out this year? Did you find the writing process to be…

therapeutic in that sense? Like you found that you had to write about it to kind of help move to where you are today or did you find that you were again trying to write a memoir that was kind of a first, if you will, the same that with your first book, like here’s a model, here’s how it can be, here’s representation in this space. Or both.

Rowan Jetté Knox
No, wow, that’s a big question. So I knew I had to write it. I knew I had to write it. In part because when I started, when I came back from the hospital and I started to feel more myself again, I shared online about what had happened because I am a mental health advocate. It’s something that I’ve been doing for a long time. And a lot of people…reached out to me and said everything from, you know, that same kind of pile on dog pile thing happened to me or someone I know. And it ended, you know, like I tried to take my life or I lost a friend to it or whatever it might be. Um, somebody told me she had lost her daughter. That was, that was devastating for me to hear. Um, you know, so all of that was happening. And so I knew that this is something I wanted to talk about in some capacity, but also

when I decided it should be a book because I had so much to say about it and how it helped shape me into the person I am today, which is a very different person than I was in . I feel like a completely different person, a much healthier, happier, stronger person, far more aware of who I am too, which is wonderful. I, you know,

it was great to write it. Writing the book was fantastic. I really did get a lot out. It was hard. I cried. I paced. I was up half the night sometimes just thinking about what I had written. I opened up a lot of wounds. But the thing that was hard is when it comes to writing a memoir, it’s not just about writing the first draft. They’re sending it back to you two, three, four times sometimes to go through it. And so every single time I was reliving my trauma every single time I had to relive these chapters. Let me tell you though, I’m pretty over it now. I’m doing great. Nothing like exposure therapy. Change my life.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Well, give us the title of your book and a brief description of it.

Rowan Jetté Knox
So the book is called One Sunny Afternoon, which I know sounds like a weird title for a book about trauma, but it actually is a pretty hopeful and positive book overall. There are some hard parts for sure, but a lot of it is like a really sort of, you know, I can get through this, you can get through this, we just need to figure out our brains kind of thing. Just like in Love Lives Here, where I throw us into the car in this pivotal moment.

where my wife comes out to me right at the beginning. In this book, I open this up in the hospital. I am in the hospital. It is the worst day of my life in so many ways. I’m barely alive. I’m just barely hanging on. I have one foot out the door. I don’t know what I’m doing there and I don’t know if I wanna be there. I just know that I’m there. And then I take us backwards. I take us back through childhood and through…

you know, what happened online and how that tied together. And it’s not so much this huge inventory. I mean, I do list off some things that have happened and how they affected me. I left a lot out as well, but it really is very much about not what happened, but the fact that a lot of us carry trauma and a lot of us have even trauma disorders we’re not aware of, and that sometimes they can be masked by other things. Like I have had bouts of depression, the doctor had no problem finding that.

I’ve had bouts of it. I have an anxiety disorder. Nobody had issues with that. But underneath that, what was driving all of that was a complex PTSD disorder. And so once we had that diagnosis, I could really start to get better. And so it really is about like, hey, I’m in my s and my whole life has changed for the better because of this awful thing that happened. And I just want people to not give up on themselves. So that’s, it’s just a book about hope.

Archie Arnold
Sorry, I’m just… can I just fanboy a little bit? Heh heh heh.

Rowan Jetté Knox
Can I just fanboy a little bit? You’re fantastic Archie Arnold. Oh my gosh. I’m like yay another trans guy I can talk to and you just give me so much hope.

Archie Arnold
Oh, haha, haha. Tell me where you got that Trans Men are Hotter t-shirt!

Rowan Jetté Knox
Yeah, I was at Pride this year with my partner and we walked by a stall and it had this shirt that says trans dudes are hotter and I hadn’t come out to anyone yet except for my partners. And I was like, so I should mention I am polyamorous. I have three wonderful partners. We all live together, including my wife Zoe.

So that’s all, that might be book three, honestly. But yeah, and I was like, I’m gonna buy myself this shirt and when I come out, I’m going to wear it. And then sure enough, I did within the first two days of coming out, I’m like, hey, put me in this shirt. And a lot of cis men were very angry with me, very, very angry with me. And so I’ve decided when I do start HRT, once a month, I’m going to put that shirt on and that will be my timeline shirt where you just sort of every time I’m in this shirt, a month will have gone by. Ha ha ha.

Archie Arnold
Nice. Very nice. I love that. I really want one.

Rowan Jetté Knox
If I can find it online, I’m gonna let you know because honestly, everybody wants one. It’s a great shirt. I love it so much.

Archie Arnold
I can’t wait to read the book. I guess I’m wondering, I mean because for me, coming to the realization that I was trans came out I think because I finally found a really good therapist and I was going through some really effective therapy that kind of connected a lot of dots for me, had me thinking a lot about my childhood trauma.

And I was just wondering for you did the process that you went through after you checked yourself into the hospital Do you think that? Facing your trauma disorder and kind of looking at your life had anything to do with your realization that you’re trans

Rowan Jetté Knox
This is such a great question. And yes, it had everything to do with me realizing I was trans because my trauma kept me flying under the radar. I always thought if I could just not get noticed because every time I get noticed bad things happen. So I’m just going to be normal and I’m using air quotes here, but you know, be normal, be a happy nuclear family. And then even when we realized we were a more…

you know, different kind of nuclear family. It was, it was still, you know, okay, that’s fine. But you know, I’m just going to keep leaning into these roles of mother, these roles, you know, this role of wife, this role of, you know, sister and daughter. And, and that was so firmly attached to my identity to keep me safe, I felt. And

doing trauma therapy. So towards the end of the book, anyone who follows me online, this is not, this is not a spoiler of the book whatsoever. But over, over the course of, of writing, um, yeah, actually it was, it was, I think it was towards the, the start of writing that book, I figured out I was non-binary. So that went into the end of the book. But then as I continued to heal.

a few months before the book was out. But you know, once it was printed, and thousands and thousands of copies were sitting in warehouses everywhere, oops, I realized that I was a guy and that my old name, my old names everywhere, so I don’t mind saying that my old name, Amanda, was going to be on this book, but it was not going to be a name that worked for me anymore. I am so fortunate.

because I have an amazing team that I work with. My publisher is amazing. My literary agent also amazing. And they were like, they said, what do you want to do Rowan? Like we all support you, we all love you. What do you want to do? And I said, well, I mean, I don’t know because this is a book that I really want people to read and I don’t want to take the focus off of that. Maybe, and it already says Amanda on it. So maybe I should be touring this as Amanda. I don’t know. And they were like, yeah, how would that feel?

all the time. I was like, terrible. We feel terrible. It feels terrible now to have to be Amanda online and be Rowan everywhere else. So they said, I think you should come out when you’re ready. And no matter what happens, we, we support you. Um, and they did. So I came out to the world August st as Rowan, August st, . They delayed the release of my book by three weeks. It was supposed to come out a couple of weeks after that. They like, no, we’re going to, we’re going to delay it. So six weeks later, my book baby came out. My book baby was born and it made me a book daddy again. I was so proud. I said it on national TV. I said, I’m a book daddy twice, twice. And they didn’t edit it out and I was so happy. But yeah, and then I, and you know what? I felt there’s a lot on the line. Like there was a lot on the line with this book, but it was also very, you know, for me to come out was a huge risk. As far as I know, this has never happened before or somebody’s come out right before a book comes out. But everyone’s been putting Rowan stickers on the book when they take pictures of it. And it’s the cutest thing. I have probably a hundred of them saved on my phone. I have to do a real lesson kind of video about it because it’s so sweet. And they’ve changed my name everywhere they can. And when they re-release the book, it will have my proper name. It’s just been such a lovely, lovely thing. And it became a best seller.

it actually did hit the bestseller list, both big lists in Canada, and that’s huge. The fact that it did not detract from the book and that people still read it is wonderful. So I think I kind of went on and gushed about how amazing everybody is, but I’m just so happy that I get to do this as me.

Archie Arnold
It is awesome.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Congratulations.

Rowan Jetté Knox
Thank you. Thank you. It’s amazing when the world does the right thing, right? I feel like sometimes I’m very fortunate in that I get a blueprint for how to do it right. People go, here you go. This is, and now you can turn around and show the world how it’s done right. You know, it’s, I don’t take any credit for that. That’s just the people around me. Lucky.

J.P. Der Boghossian
So I would be remiss. I’m in a poly relationship. We just celebrated our th anniversary this past August. So may I ask you a couple? I think you’re the first guest or author or guest to be on the show that’s out as a poly person. May I ask you a few questions about that? You don’t have to say yes.

Rowan Jetté Knox
You go right ahead. I just wrote a giant national. No, no, no. I just wrote a national article for it. It’s all of my, my new neighbor was like Rowan Rowan. I met him once. I was like, Oh, and I walked over and I was like, Hey, he’s like, Rowan, I loved your article and Shadalane. Like it was, I was like, I had no idea. He had any idea who I was. It was the funniest thing. So it’s just going everywhere. So no, it’s all out everywhere. You go ahead. Ask me all about poly.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Okay, so when did you so I met my partners Jim and Gordy online and prior to that I had never in my mind thought of poly as not even an option for me, right? Like I had never, I didn’t know anybody who like in a poly relationship, I never, well, and that’s the funny thing is that I had actually read a book and it was one of my favorite novels ever. It was the book that I, you know, if I got to be a guest on the show, ultimately that I would say was the book that saved my life because it laid all of the foundations for a poly relationship that I didn’t even realize it was doing. So when they, you know, when Jim and Gordy, like we met online, we started talking and I didn’t even realize I was actually kind of

doing what the characters in the book were doing in like real life and would find myself thinking certain things and being like, oh, and coming back to the book later, I was like, oh, fuck, that’s what I was doing. So I’m curious, how did poly arrive for you as an option in your life as a relationship?

Rowan Jetté Knox
I stumbled into it really is what happened. It wasn’t a conscious choice. It was more of a So I had a short-term relationship last year I talked it over with Zoe and she’s like, yeah, you know, you should you should check this I was long distance. It did not work out and it actually ended up pretty poorly and a lot of it came down to Just bad communication really bad communication despite

my best efforts, it just wasn’t working. And so that ended and I just thought to myself, I’m never gonna do this again, never gonna do this again. But there was a girl, oh no. And we tried so hard to be friends, we tried so hard to just like, I friend zoned her so hard and she friend zoned me so hard. And it was finally like her wife and my wife who were like, I think you two just need to admit that you’re crazy about each other.

And so we did, we admitted that we were crazy about each other. And then what was really cute, we were like, well, I guess since we’re in a relationship, then all of us should be talking, right? Like all of us should have a group chat and what have you. And then Zoe, so the woman that I fell for, her name is Danny. And Danny is married to Dame and Dame and Zoe started talking because, you know, they might as well and don’t you know it, they’re crazy for each other too.

Everybody falls in love. It just becomes this like, yeah, it just became this perfect situation. And so we were living about four hours apart. Zoe and I were in Ottawa, they were in Toronto, and we would go back and forth, and two weeks felt like two years. And eventually we were just like, well, Zoe and I were like, well, you know what? I think we’re just going to sell our house and move to Toronto. So.

Our kids were all older, we could do it, so we did, and we are here.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Oh, like, this is the move.

Rowan Jetté Knox
Well, okay. So first we moved. Yeah. So yes, right now I was just saying earlier that I, you know, before we started recording that we’re all in a house together. Yes, this is a, this is the house that we now live in all together. Before that, they had an apartment. We rented a short-term rental down the street.

about a mile away. And so we just would go back and forth. Like I would be half the week there and half the week at the apartment. And Dame would be half the week at the apartment, half the week at the house. We’d basically like high five on the way in and out, you know, sort of thing. And it was fine, but it wears on you not to have like a solid home. I need a home base. And so we found this amazing place in downtown Toronto. And we jumped and we moved. We moved in about three weeks ago.

J.P. Der Boghossian
That’s amazing. So many congratulations for you today.

Rowan Jetté Knox
Oh, thank you. Thank you. Yeah, we love it. It’s so nice to finally live all together.

J.P. Der Boghossian .
Right? Yeah, it’s, there’s a… I mean, I had…actually never had like a long-term serious relationship prior to being with Jim and Gordy. And I think this is kind of the reason why there’s a more of an emotional richness and dynamism that I’m able to get out of being in this relationship that I wasn’t getting. And I often wonder, I’m like, is that, was that part of my fear of commitment to a single person, even to be just, you know, like, you know, we’re partners now of like, this isn’t

I’m going to feel weird about this or trapped or whatever I would end up feeling. And so I think that’s just amazing. And you came to it, obviously, all poly couples or poly triads or throuples or quads or whatever we use the terms, poly families, all come into it differently. So there really isn’t that one type of unique story. But I think it’s amazing that you are sharing that story. And I would really hope that you do write that book because we need more good poly representation in literature. And there really isn’t a lot of it right now.

Rowan Jetté Knox
No, there really isn’t. And that’s the thing. And it’s a natural extension of what I do already. I already am somebody who tackles for whatever reason. The person who wanted to fly under the radar is now the person who writes about being three people in a family, trans people in a family. And now I’m writing about, you know…

being in a polycule and what that looks like. And, you know, but of course I am because I think this is just what I’m supposed to be doing. I’m just supposed, you know, I, if they’re going to get mad at me for wearing trans dudes or hotter shirts, I should give them something more to be mad about. But the amount of people who’ve come up to me and they’ve been like, thank you so much for being so open about poly. Like I’m poly too, but I’m always afraid to tell everyone. I’m like, well, I think we need to fix that. Let’s fix that. Let’s just do it. So yeah.

J.P. Der Boghossian
Yeah, I tried being under undercover about it at a job that I worked at when I moved to Minnesota to be with Jim and Gordy and it was so awkward and I was like picking and choosing and like, you know, work functions. It was like, well, we’re going to have to pick somebody who’s going to go with me to work functions and then we’re just going to have to stick with that because, you know, this is what it’s going to be. And then thankfully I got to work for a queer health organization. And day one I walked in there and I’m like, I have two partners and this is what it’s going to be.

and I’m out about this and if you’re all not, like you all better be good about this.” And they were amazing and it was such a fantastic experience that at my next job I just made the decision, I’m like, I am gonna be out about this and it’s gonna be my litmus test. If you’re not good about it, then this isn’t a good fit, goodbye. And it really is been so great to be out and about that. When you can get to that place, it’s a really lovely space to be in.

Rowan Jetté Knox
It really is, it really is. Gosh, so many good feelings. We’re talking about poly Archie Arnold. I did not get a chance to say thank you to you because all the lovely things that you said earlier, I’m gonna take those with me. I had a tough day. This is a trans thing that I’m very open about my transition. So, I got a call from my specialist. I’m supposed to start testosterone on Tuesday.

and they found something very, very minor that I already know about in my blood, but now they wanna investigate that. And so my transition, medical transitions put on pause and I was like so bummed earlier doing this and meeting you Archie Arnold and hearing about how much our story meant to you and seeing you and hearing…

you know, that you’ve been able to come out and medically transition. It just gives me a lot of hope. So I want to thank you as well for, for giving me some hope today. I really needed it.

Archie Arnold
You’re welcome. I’m really honored that I could do that for you.

Rowan Jetté Knox
We all help each other. That’s the nice thing about the community, right? Like the community where we all just learn from each other. We all just lift each other up. And I think when we do that, it makes all the difference in the world.

Archie Arnold
Yeah, yeah. Trivia, J.P. is, I think, the second person that I came out to because we used to work together. And so the first person I came out to was my therapist. Ha ha ha. And J.P., yeah, J.P. was the second.

Rowan Jetté Knox
Oh wow!

J.P. Der Boghossian
Yeah.

Rowan Jetté Knox .
I’m loving this. This is amazing. Oh my goodness. Oh, I’m gonna cry. Don’t cry, don’t cry, Ron. Don’t cry, Ron. Cried enough today, Ron. Good cries are better than bad cries, though. So I mean, there’s that, but oh my, wow, that’s amazing.

J.P. Der Boghossian and Archie Arnold
[laugh]

Archie Arnold
So yeah, so this is a super special thing for me to do. Getting to talk to an author that I really admire, a person I really admire, and to do it in a way facilitated by someone who was a really important part of my journey, too, is pretty awesome.

Rowan Jetté Knox
Wow, it’s great when these things happen. I did a panel recently of authors and one of the people on that panel was somebody who, during the whole debacle in , when I was piled on, that person was one of the people who was the loudest. And we were able to, now the person did apologize to me very shortly after but we kind of left it there and to be able to connect and actually strike up a friendship and do this work together and move forward together was amazing, right? Life can really surprise you and people can grow and change and I’m here for all of it.

[inspiring s music]

J.P. Der Boghossian
I want to thank Archie and Rowan for being on the show today. Archie and Rowan. Sounds like a fashion label.

Archie told me that he’s looking forward to keeping on, keeping on with his life, working at his affirming job, racking up those grant dollars, and raking in those anniversaries with his partner. And looking forward to getting his next tattoo.

Rowan wrapped up his book tour for One Sunny Afternoon. Rowan told us that he is looking forward to settling into his new home with his poly family. And, Rowan is mapping out their next book – which will include that journey to discover himself and his poly family.

You can connect with Rowan through his website Rowan Jetté knox dot com. On social media, search for Maven of Mayhem on Instagram, Facebook, and Bluesky. Links to all of this and to buy his books in the show note and on our website.

[theme music]

That’s our show. Our podcast is executive produced by Jim Pounds, accounting and creative support provided by Gordy Erickson. Our associate producers are Archie Arnold, K Jason Bryant and David Rephan, Natalie Cruz, Jonathan Fried, Paul Kaefer, Nicole Olilla, Joe Perrazo, Bill Shay, and Sean Smith. Our Patreon subscribers are Steven D, Steven Flam, Ida Gotëberg, Thomas Mckna, and Gary Nygaard.

Our soundtrack and sound effects were provided through royalty free licenses. Please visit thisqueerbook.com/music for track names and artists.

We are on social media. @thisqueerbook and @J.P.derboghossian on Instagram. We have a facebook page and I’m @J.P.derboghossian dot bsky dot social on Blue Sky.

As always, you can connect with us through our website, thisqueerbook.com, and if you want to be on the show, fill out the form on the home page.

And until our next episode, see you queers and allies in the bookstores!

[theme music ends]