The Tiptree Award is becoming the Otherwise Award
October 15, 2019 9:51 AM Subscribe
Joy, absurdity, and irreverence have long been in the DNA of the Tiptree Award. What other award crowns the winner with a tiara, raises money with bake sales, and serenades the winner? Now, our community has spoken and said: there is too much discomfort over this history for many of us to feel joyous about this name.The Tiptree Motherboard has renamed the Tiptree to the Otherwise Award.
After Jeanette Ng Kicked off her John W. Campbell Award acceptance speech with "John W. Campbell, for whom this award was named, was a fucking fascist" and the administrators of the reward reacting by changing its name, the pressure was on for the Tiptree Award to do the same.
The reasons for why this name should be changed were laid out by the foundation itself in a post last month:
In recent days, we’ve seen questions raised on social media about whether the name of the Tiptree Award should be reconsidered. The Award was named after James Tiptree, Jr., the persona under which Alice Sheldon published. The questions relate to Alice Sheldon’s actions at the end of her life. On May 19, 1987, she shot first her husband, Huntington Sheldon, and then herself.At the time they held off on changing the name immediately, arguing that:
We on the Motherboard, those who remember Alice Sheldon and those who do not, have long known the story of how she and her husband, Huntington Sheldon (known as Ting), died.
Friends and family — and the science fiction community at the time — viewed this tragedy as resulting from a suicide pact: the desperate and tragic result of a combination of physical and mental illness and the Sheldons’ desire to die on their own terms. He was 84 years old; she was 71.
However, some who have read accounts of the Sheldon’s deaths more recently have pointed out a different interpretation. The story can also be seen as an act of caregiver murder: where a disabled person is killed by the person, usually a close family member, who is responsible for their support.
We have been, before this current conversation, asking ourselves some questions. What would an Award look like, Tiptree or otherwise, that honored what we want to honor now, the complex and overlapping intersections through which gender is lived? That’s a question we can’t answer in one single burst of sustained self-reflection. We believe it is far more important to make the right decisions than to make decisions quickly.Clearly, the support for an arguments in favour of a name change have been so overwhelming that barely a month later the Motherboard felt confident announcing that it would indeed happen.
Ending on a positive note, the Motherboard also sees this as a possibility for a new start:
At the heart of the creative work this award has honored for the last 28 years is the act of imagining gender otherwise. We have honored those who expand or explore gender by imagining the world otherwise. Over the next 28 years and more, we expect people’s lived experiences of gender to shift, change, and multiply in ways we can’t possibly imagine. But whatever happens, writers and artists will make sense of it, and push at the limits, by imagining otherwise.
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