Neil Gaiman broadcast this tragic news over the weekend: Rachel Pollack, an icon of fantasy literature, an expert on tarot and the occult, and a trailblazer for trans rights, passed away from Hodgkin's lymphoma over the weekend:
I first encountered Pollack's work on Doom Patrol, where she had the unenviable role of following Grant Morrison's iconic run on the bizarre group of misfits. While Morrison didn't shy away from exploring their own gender dysphoria throughout their work on the title — Negative Man in particular had been joined with a woman as well as a cosmic entity to become a non-binary composite being — Pollack was responsible for introducing Coagula to the cast, who's largely considered to be the first explicitly trans character in a mainstream superhero comic. Pollack also won an Arthur C. Clarke award for her 1989 speculative fiction novel Unquenchable Fire. But she's perhaps best known for her work on writings on Tarot, including Salvador Dali's Tarot and Seventy-Eight Degrees of Wisdom: A Tarot Journey to Self-Awareness, as well as collaborations with Gaiman and artist Dave McKean.
There's also this, from her obituary in The Guardian:
Pollack, born in Brooklyn, New York, on 17 August 1945, was one of the earliest trans activists, and moved to the UK when she transitioned in her early 20s, following a career as a professor of English.
British writer and cultural critic Roz Kaveney recalls that when she moved to London in 1971 she went to the Gay Liberation Front and "asked them if they were doing anything about what we now call trans stuff. They said they had a small group coordinated by Rachel Pollack, and I went to see her the very same day."
Pollack and Kaveney belonged to the group that drew up the first trans manifesto, published in the GLF's newsletter in 1972, entitled Don't Call Me Mister You Fucking Beast, and which included: "There are many questions we are just beginning to examine. Why is Danny La Rue a West End institution, when we get kicked out of our flats for wearing a skirt? Apparently it's all right if you're doing it for money, but perverted if you do it for personal satisfaction."
(This is a particularly notable passage not only because of what it reveals about Pollack as a person, but also because it was published in The Guardian, which has recently garnered quite a bit of criticism for its transphobic coverage.)
Rest in power, Rachel Pollack.