Over the past year I’ve read a few trans* books. All excellent reads, for different reasons. There are of course many other wonderful and insightful books on being trans*. Others on my reading list include “Testosterone Rex” and “Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine. Thanks to Georgia Williams for bringing these to my attention.
One great value for such reading material is enhancing and developing deeper empathy. Valuable not just for counsellors, but for society as a whole. Empathy and acceptance of each other go hand in hand. Looking beyond our own point of view is invaluable for a peaceful society and world. Thinking there is only one answer or way to be creates others. It leads to us and them thinking. It tends to generate “either / or” thinking. When the ideal is surely “and / plus” thinking. Whether you’re trans*, wonder if you are, know someone who is or wonders if they are, or think you don’t know anybody who’s trans* (because you probably do) these books will be invaluable resource for you.
Of particular importance is the acceptance of any name change, being willing to use it, plus the pronouns a trans* person may ask you to use. Most trans* people recognise this can initially be difficult and will be okay with genuine slip-ups in language. What is offensive is deliberate mis-gendering someone.
“Trans Teen Survival Guide”, cover below, I’d say is similar in approach to This Book is Gay, written, as the title says, for a younger audience. Included are the following chapters:
- So You’re Trans?
- Gender Roles Are Dead
- Telling the World (or not!)
- What Do I Call You?
- Being You (Whoever That Is)
- Dysphoria: The Monster
- Puberty and How to Cope
- Hormone Therapy
- Genitals, Parts, Junk – What Suits Best?
- Dating as a Trans Person
- Awkward Trans Tales
- Dealing with the Media
- Documenting Your Journey
- Don’t Get Mad – Get Even!
- More Than Just Trans
- Self-Care and How to Help Others
- Hopes for the Future
- Resources and Cool People
- Appendix: Young Trans Kids and How to Support Them
Difficult to say which chapters are the best. Each individual will find certain chapters more relevant to their needs or desires. One thing that becomes apparent is there is no one way to be trans*. The mainstream media often give the impression it’s just about cutting bits (penis or breasts) from off one’s body. And sometimes it is. Owl and Fox Fisher outline many options available. Too many to detail here. Read their book. If you can’t afford it, see if you local library can get hold of a copy for you.
Another wonderful book is “trans like me” by cn lester. Written for an older audience, certainly not beyond a teenage readership. For me it felt slightly more personal, in that cn lester recounts their own experiences of growing up, discovering themselves. Again, recommended reading.
Many people struggle to understand what being trans* is about. Such books as these give brilliant insights into that. That it is nothing like what is often depicted in the mainstream media. Yet such media seems preferred by many, instead of going to what might be termed a source, someone’s lived experience.
A third amazing book is “Trans Britain” by Christine Burns. The chapters are written by trans people who have experienced life in Britain over the past 50 years or so. It shows the progress made. Though lately there does seem a tragic reversal of trans acceptance in some areas of society. Yet, again,read this book to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of what it is being trans*.