Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Fine Arts




Creative Writing (MFA)

First Advisor/Chairperson

Jennifer Howard


The Empress of Rome & Other Stories That Make Me Possible is a collection of essays, micro memoirs, poetry, art, meditations, reflections, speculations, imagined history, hopes, and desires. Without straying too far from her own life, Zoa Coudret shows readers glimpses into other worlds, including Ancient Rome with the proto-transgender Empress Elagabalus, the Okavango Delta in Botswana where transmasculine lions prowl the plains, and The Tom of Finland Foundation for “An Evening of Pain” with transgender porn performer and artist Carta Monir. Pain reappears as a topic over and over in various ways, especially as it relates to transition and the (re-)creating of a self. This manifests or is created through electrolysis treatments, BDSM performances, hormone injections, the body physically altering during HRT, piercings, and other transformative experiences. With flourishes of lyricism, pessimism, comedy, and mournfulness, this tight-knit multi-genre patchwork ultimately renders a hopeful picture of living as a transsexual woman, finding agency through sex, and learning to accept and even sometimes love one’s body despite its limitations and pains.

Access Type

Open Access

Justification for Restricting Access

I would like to request an indefinite embargo of this book so that it will only be publicly available if request by me, the author. The embargo is critical to the future professional utilization of this work of creative nonfiction, which I believe has the potential to be revised, expanded, and released by a major book publisher. Any publicly available file, even restricted to campus users, would prevent it from ever being published by most if not all companies and organizations. Not only would it violate policies for first rights, it would lead to inconsistent versions that would harm the credibility of the book. Agents and publishing houses will demand a rigorous process of revision and editing based on style, aesthetics, marketability, and more factors. The duration of the project cannot be known at this point, as there may be factors that delay or prolong a publishing contract. It could become a published book in three years, or twenty. Precluding this from publication due to its release in this current form would harm me personally and professionally. Many writing teachers' careers depend upon their ability to get a book published, and that is also a goal of mine. There's another reason I want to bring up that is equally if not more important than the preceding one. Given the nature of memoir and my essays, I reveal many personal details that relate to living as a queer transsexual woman. As a member of a persecuted group whose members are targeted with threats, attacks, and doxxing online, and sometimes worse things in person, the dissemination of an intimate narrative on this topic without the guidance and protection of an agent and publishing house who have experience dealing with privacy concerns, could present a dangerous situation at this point. Granting me an extended, indefinite embargo would give me a great peace of mind as I embark on my writing career. I hope you will consider my request. Thanks, Zoa Coudret

Available for download on Monday, April 05, 2100

Included in

Nonfiction Commons