Elliott DeLine ’12, author, activist, and Syracuse University alumnus, says his childhood was pretty ordinary, but in our eyes his burgeoning career is nothing short of extraordinary. At only 26, DeLine is basking in early career success with the launch his newest book, $how Trans, a nonfiction novel he calls “highly-personal.”
“My latest book is much more autobiographical and is, to the best of my ability, a true story,” says DeLine, who graduated from the College of Arts and Sciences with a degree in English and Textual Studies. “A lot of my work blurs the line between fiction and nonfiction, and, since I’m writing my own personal account, remembering every minute detail can be tricky.”
An award-winning transgender writer, DeLine will return to campus on Tuesday, Nov. 4, to read and discuss his book. The event, which is free and open to the public, will begin at 6 p.m. and will be held in Eggers Hall in room 032. Dana Spiotta, his former professor and creative writing faculty in the Department of English, will join DeLine for a conversation about his writing after the reading.
DeLine is the author of the novel Refuse and the novella I Know Very Well How I Got My Name. His work has also been featured in The New York Times, The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard, and Original Plumbing Magazine. But long before he was a published author, DeLine was always a writer.
“As early as I can remember, I would write stories and staple the pages together to self-publish my own books,” he recalls. “I was also an avid storyteller via the oral tradition. There are several family videos of this. I was artistic in other areas, and it wasn’t until my 20s that I knew I wanted to primarily focus on writing—or that’s when I decided I wanted to distribute my writing to the world.”
Though his life is like an open book, his story hasn’t always been so well-received by the world around him.
“I grew up in the suburbs of North Syracuse and was always shy and artistic,” he continues. “I felt stifled by my environment. The schools I attended were hostile towards queer and transgender youth. I experienced a lot of bullying, abuse, and isolation—from peers and faculty alike—which has, in turn, affected my writing a great deal. Feeling isolated and trapped are reoccurring themes in my work.”
DeLine’s former professor and mentor Minnie Bruce Pratt finds his work deeply insightful and says his life experiences helped mold him into the writer that he is today.
“Elliott is writing at the cutting-edge of modern-day culture—with his relentless and compassionate narration of young people living out complexities of multiple sexes, genders, and sexualities,” says Pratt, professor of women’s and gender studies and of writing and rhetoric. “His visually and textually dynamic memoir and fiction thoroughly engage the reader and give us a window into the everyday living of life in-between rigid boundaries of male and female, man and woman, straight and gay.”
Though his writing consumes much of his time, DeLine is a passionate advocate for the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer) community. He is the founder of CNY for Solidarity, Inc., a non-profit organization that focuses on promoting and advocating underserved segments of the LGBTQ community, with an emphasis on the intersectionality of racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of oppression.