Books

Some titles appear under two subjects.

Activism

Organizing for Transgender Rights

This book is a political science and sociological analysis of transgender rights groups in the United States. The author studies the formation, proliferation and in some cases demise of these groups through interviews with their founders.

Rupert Raj: Dancing the Dialectic

The subtitle to this book does not lie. Rupert Raj was the trailblazer for trans activism in Canada.

(The) Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism, and Transgender Rights

By Deborah Rudacille, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

The Skin We’re In

Desmond Cole’s dismantling of police tactics against Black people in Canada, with an excellent chapter on the disruption of Toronto’s Pride Parade in 2016 by Black Lives Matter -Toronto. We’re all in this together.

Trans Activism in Canada 

An anthology that brings together activists and allies to examine the various strategies and forms of resistance needed to transform oppression into opportunity for change.

Trans Like Me

C. N. Lester’s critique of the way trans people have been, and continue to be, portrayed in the media and popular culture has a mild undercurrent of anger which I found invigorating. Anger has a way of focusing one on the need for action, and as Lester clearly demonstrates the battle is far from over.

Arts & Entertainment

Gender Bending Detective Fiction.

A survey of detective fiction from the late 1940s to the present reflects the journey trans people have gone through in real life. Transphobic is too mild a word to describe what we’ve often experienced.

I’m Supposed to Relate to This? 

A Trans Woman on Issues of Identification with Trans Moving Images, by Valérie Robin Clayman; illustrations by Kat Verhoeven.

Biography & Life Stories

I’m afraid of men

The book begins with a sentence that explains the title: “I’m afraid of men because it was men who taught me fear.” The introductory chapter that follows then demonstrates how this “fear governs many of the choices I make, from the beginning of my day to the end.”

Love Lives Here

Amanda Jette Knox’s book Love Lives Here suggests that in an age when hate seems to dominate the news and social media, people are thirsting for stories in which love triumphs.

Mamaskatch: A Cree Coming of Age

Mamaskatch is a reminder of a time not so long ago when racism, colonialism, homophobia and transphobia had direct and devastating effects on individuals. I hope we’ve become better since then.

Mom, I Need To Be a Girl

By Just Evelyn (Evelyn D. Lindenmuth), reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Rupert Raj: Dancing the Dialectic

The subtitle to this book does not lie. Rupert Raj was the trailblazer for trans activism in Canada.

She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders

By Jennifer Finney Boylan, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Soar, Adam, Soar

While Soar, Adam, Soar is very much about the short, inspiring life of Adam Prashaw – indeed, he contributes to much of it through his Facebook postings reprinted periodically within the text – it’s also about his dad and co-author, Rick Prashaw. I don’t think Rick intended it that way, but I also don’t think the book suffers for it.

This One Looks Like a Boy

A worthwhile and readable memoir. Lorimer Shenher served with the Vancouver Police Department and was the first detective assigned to the notorious case of missing Vancouver women.

To My Trans Sisters

An entertaining and inspirational collection of letters written by successful transwomen sharing what they have learned on their journey to womanhood. It is by turns honest, heartfelt, funny and furious. “A love letter to our community.”

Trans Power

There are some worthwhile arguments in Juno Roche’s book Trans Power, but she’s so enamoured of her own personal epiphany that she mistakenly assumes it is the way forward for all trans folks. It is not.

The Trauma Cleaner

A biography of the remarkable Sandra Pankhurst, a woman who brings order and care to the living and the dead. Before she was a trauma cleaner, she was many things: abused child, husband and father, drag queen, sex affirmation patient, sex worker, businesswoman, and trophy wife. An affirmation that we are all in this together.

Crossdressing

Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age

By Richard J. Novic, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Arresting Dress

In 1863, San Francisco passed a law that criminalized a person’s appearing in public in “a dress not belonging to his or her sex.” Over forty US cities passed similar laws during this time. This book examines their effects.

Crossdressing with Dignity: The Case for Transcending Gender Lines

By Peggy J. Rudd, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Miss Vera’s Finishing School for Boys Who Want to be Girls

By Veronica Vera, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser

By Helen Boyd, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

My Husband Wears My Clothes: Crossdressing from the Perspective of a Wife

By Peggy J. Rudd, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Understanding Cross-Dressing: A Discussion from Many Points of View

By Virginia Prince, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Unzipping Gender: Sex, Cross-dressing and Culture

By Charlotte Suthrell, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Vested Interests: Cross-dressing & Cultural AnxietyVested Interests: Cross-dressing & Cultural Anxiety

By Marjorie Garber, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Culture and Religion

Crossing Over: Liberating the Transgendered Christian

The title refers to the hope filled story of the Israelites escaping oppression and the Pharaoh’s army by “crossing over” the parted waters of the Red Sea. That it has a second more literal meaning for trans people makes this an apt title for a small book that delivers a message of hope for conflicted transgendered Christians.

Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History

Edited by Gilbert Herdt. Once you’ve dismissed the notion that there is one simple, fixed definition of man and woman, which this book does very thoroughly, you become aware of the astonishing ways in which gender diversity has been expressed, tolerated, and institutionalized in various cultures.

Essays

Genderqueer: Voices from Beyond the Sexual Binary

Edited by Joan Nestle, Clare Howell, and Riki Wilchins. The collection of essays in this book speak for the liberation of all of us, and not just the “genderqueers” that society at any one time finds acceptable.

I Hope We Choose Love

Underlying all the essays and poems in this book is a trans woman aware of her own growth and deliberating upon the communities which nurtured her, but which she is reluctantly discovering may now be limiting her.

Trans Like Me

C. N. Lester’s critique of the way trans people have been, and continue to be, portrayed in the media and popular culture has a mild undercurrent of anger which I found invigorating. Anger has a way of focusing one on the need for action, and as Lester clearly demonstrates the battle is far from over.

Trans Power

There are some worthwhile arguments in Juno Roche’s book Trans Power, but she’s so enamoured of her own personal epiphany that she mistakenly assumes it is the way forward for all trans folks. It is not.

Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics

An interesting collection of essays by an academically trained philosopher trans woman that explores various facets of the trans experience.

Fiction, Drama, Poetry

The Danish Girl

Before the film, there was the book. In its portrayal of the complexity of human nature, The Danish Girl demonstrates that well executed fiction with a trans story can be relevant to all readers.

Detransition, Baby

Torrey Peters’ novel Detransition, Baby is nothing if not a deep dive into what it means to be trans. An accomplished work of fiction.

In One Person

I’m a little late to the party in reviewing John Irving’s book, first published in 2012. Having just finished reading it, however, I felt compelled to write a few words. It’s simply too good a novel to be quiet about.

Little Fish

If Dickens wrote of Great Expectations (however ironically), Casey Plett’s novel about a trans woman finding her way in the early months of winter in Winnipeg is one of low expectations. And yet…

transVersing: a small book of poetry and drama by trans youth

An interesting little book that came out of a project by Love of Learning, a St. John’s charity that provides at-risk youth with arts based training.

History

How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States

By Joanne Meyerowitz. This book brings together all the plots, subplots, themes, and characters that shaped the current position on sex changing. You may know some of this history already, but there is much here that is fresh and Meyerowitz does an excellent job of putting it all in context.

Third Sex, Third Gender: Beyond Sexual Dimorphism in Culture and History

Edited by Gilbert Herdt. Once you’ve dismissed the notion that there is one simple, fixed definition of man and woman, which this book does very thoroughly, you become aware of the astonishing ways in which gender diversity has been expressed, tolerated, and institutionalized in various cultures.

Trans America: a counter-history

Can we even think of trans before trans? What is the prehistory of transsexuality and transgender? These are some of the questions this history aims to address.

Trans Medicine: the Emergence and Practice of Treating Gender

This history of trans medicine makes clear the problem from its inception has been that many medical providers don’t really know what they’re doing.

International

Male Bodies, Women’s Souls: Personal Narratives of Thailand’s Transgendered Youth

The narratives in this book belie Western assumptions that Thai society is relatively accepting of transgendered people.

Revealing Selves: Transgender Portraits from Argentina & Out: LGBTQ Poland

Two books that explore the experiences of trans people in Argentina and Poland.

Travesti: sex, gender and culture among Brazilian transgendered prostitutes

It’s a strange and interesting world. That was the recurring thought going through my head as I made my way through this sometimes astonishing book.

Relationships & Parenting

At the Broken Places.

In this collaborative memoir, a parent and transgender son recount wrestling with their differences as Donald Collins undertook his transition. Despite my best efforts to be sympathetic to the mother’s complaints, I failed.

Mom, I Need To Be a Girl

By Just Evelyn (Evelyn D. Lindenmuth), reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

My Husband Betty: Love, Sex, and Life with a Crossdresser

By Helen Boyd, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

My Husband Wears My Clothes: Crossdressing from the Perspective of a Wife

By Peggy J. Rudd, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian, and Transgender Parents

Edited by Noelle Howey and Ellen Samuels. Only five of the 21 essays in this collection of essays are about having a trans parent, yet this book is still a worthwhile addition for trans parents trying to reach their children.

She’s Not the Man I Married: My Life With A Transgender Husband

By Helen Boyd, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders

By Jennifer Finney Boylan, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

The Trans Generation: How Trans Kids (and Their Parents) Are Creating a Gender Revolution, by Ann Travers.

Self-help & How-to

Gender: your guide

An easy reading guide to gender written mostly for “people who just haven’t had to think about how gender rigidly structures our lives, spaces and interactions.”

Transgender Studies

(The) Gendered Self: Further Commentary on the Transsexual Phenomenon

By Anne M. Vitale, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People

By Viviane K. Namaste. In this scholarly study, Viviane Namaste argues that transgendered people are not so much produced by medicine or psychiatry as they are erased, or made invisible, in a variety of institutional and cultural settings.

(The) Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism, and Transgender Rights

By Deborah Rudacille, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Transgender Good News

By Pat Conover, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.

Transmen and FTMs: Identities, Bodies, Genders, and Sexualities

A book that effectively captures the breadth of the FTM experience, but ultimately a worthwhile addition to any trans book collection.

(The) Uninvited Dilemma: A Question of Gender

By Kim Elizabeth Stuart, reviewed by Samantha P. Samantha passed away in 2019. This review was originally published on her web site.