Question Eleven: Which trans books to read?

April 4, 2013 § 5 Comments


Books books books! Actually three questions, but as they cover similar ground I’m condensing them into one post. Panel bios here – please get ready to add to your reading list.



Are there any good histories of Trans peoples’ struggle for civil rights or any good social histories one can recommend? I’ve read ‘How Sex Changed’ by Joanne Meyerowitz, but I would love to read more.



Natacha: Susan Stryker has some good work on trans history.



Roz: Juliet Jacques is planning a book – wait for that. Otherwise, Susan Stryker’s various books and articles.



Naith: I haven’t read a vast amount of stuff trans issues yet, most of them are on my ever-increasing to-read pile. But I would always recommend ‘Whipping Girl’ by Julia Serano, it’s a classic and rightly so.



CN: Susan Stryker’s ‘Transgender History’, Leslie Feinberg’s ‘Transgender Warriors’ and ‘Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue’. They should be required reading for EVERYONE.




Which books would you most like to press into the hand of cis people for further reading on the issues? eg Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues? They can be as academic or as not as you like: theory, memoir, fiction, biography, poetry, whatever. 



Roz: Modesty forbids…



CN: The Feinberg mentioned above and, because everyone ought to work on challenging their assumptions and selves (whilst giggling) Kate Bornstein’s ‘My Gender Workbook’ – it’s an absolute gem. Not an overview, or a collection of FAQs, but a call to look at the world in a different, and kinder way. If you’re a fan of Feinberg then ‘Drag King Dreams’ is fantastic.



I’m a trans person, but I’ve got question for the panel if that’s ok? I was talking with a friend the other day and we were wondering if anyone’s published anything about trans women’s involvement in the feminist movement. We thought it would be an interesting topic. 



Natacha: Most trans women will probably recommend Whipping Girl by Julia Serano, but it often leaves cisgender people cold.



Roz: I am not aware of anything – good question though. And given that I used to work for feminist presses and helped to found a Feminist pressure group, I assume someone would have asked me to contribute…


CN: There’s a new book out called ‘Transfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studies’ – it’s on my reading list for the trans book, but I haven’t started it yet. Again, I would recommend Susan Stryker


§ 5 Responses to Question Eleven: Which trans books to read?

  • Jonathan says:

    For Feinberg: Transgender Warriors. It really gives a sense of trans as “always been” (though Leslie’s Marxism might not be to everyone’s taste).

  • Kate Bornstein’s ‘My Gender Workbook’ helped me a lot too. I think Jenny Boylan’s autobigraohy ‘She’s Not There’ has huge warmth and humour, For me the most impressive attempt by a cisgender person to get to get to grips with the trans experience is Richard Beard’s ‘Being Drusilla’, written about his long time friend Dru Marland. Richard’s writing is in my view sublime and re has a very rare insight. I have often recommended it to cis friends who were struggling to conceptualise what I was going through.

  • emergentlifeform says:

    I absolutely cannot stand My Gender Workbook, and have a lot of reservations about Bornstein’s work more generally. I remember reading it as a teenager and being really, really put off by the way her quiz system assigned higher points to people who were more ‘transgressive’ in gender terms. Isn’t that the absolute definition of subversivism? Valuing ‘transgressive’ gender performance and demonising/shaming people who are more normative in whatever way?

  • sharon says:

    I really disliked My Gender Workbook too. I don’t mind other people getting on well with it, but the style and approach really didn’t work for me.
    (I’m saying this only as a datapoint to balance the millions of recommendations.)

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