Current reviews

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

IhopeWe

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.

 

 

ThisOneLooks

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.

 

 

LoveLives

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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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.”

 

 

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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.”

 

 

InOnePerson

I’m a little late to the party in reviewing John Irving’s book In One Person, 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.

 

 

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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.

 

 

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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…

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

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

Trans Ottawa looks at two books that explore the experiences of trans people in Argentina and Poland.

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AtTheBroken

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.

 

 

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To My Trans Sisters is 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.”

 

 

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The Trauma Cleaner is the 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.

 

 

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Trans Activism in Canada  is 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.

 

 

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Travesti: Sex Gender and Culture among Brazilian Transgendered Prostitutes, by Don Kulick. 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.

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Transmen and FTMs: Identities, Bodies, Genders, and Sexualities, by Jason Cromwell. A book that effectively captures the breadth of the FTM experience, but ultimately a worthwhile addition to any trans book collection.

The Danish Girl, by David Ebershoff. 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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Crossing Over: Liberating the Transgendered Christian, by Vanessa Sheridan. 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.

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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.

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.