Top Ten Trans Reads

Posted by – March 19, 2008

Out Magazine recently put together a really asinine list of transgender books for their transgender issue. I haven’t seen the issue, but the list doesn’t really inspire me to go buy it, either, since Myra Breckinridge is on it.

For the past years I’ve always mixed my gender / feminism / trans books, but since that Top 10 of Out‘s is so lame, and the Lammies recently neglected Whipping Girl, which they shouldn’t have, I thought instead I should post my own Top Ten Recommended Trans Reads for LGBTQ readers. There are a few everyone might not need to read – like Virginia Erhardt’s Head Over Heels, which is about the partners of MTFs – or they might want to substitute Minnie Bruce Pratt’s S/he instead – but mostly this list gives a good “big picture” view of the trans community, including a variety of identities.

I might suggest different books for family & friends who are trying to understand transition but who aren’t big readers, & I’ll have to think about that list, too.

Of course now that I’ve written it I have to say I’d add my own books, My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married, too.

& Maybe The Drag Queens of New York as well.

  1. Butch is a Noun – S. Bear Bergman
  2. Gender Outlaw – Kate Bornstein
  3. Crossdressing, Sex & Gender – Bullough & Bullough
  4. Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism – Patrick Califia
  5. Head Over Heels: Wives Who Stay with Crossdressers and Transsexuals – Virginia Erhardt
  6. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman – Leslie Feinberg
  7. Becoming a Visible Man – Jamison Green
  8. Mom, I Need to be a Girl – Just Evelyn
  9. Whipping Girl – Julia Serano
  10. Transition & BeyondReid Vanderbergh

You’ll notice none of them is a YETA (Yet Another Transsexual Autobiography), since after you read Jenny Boylan’s She’s Not There (which I assume everyone has) you don’t need to read any others, and hers is the best-written, in my opinion. You can see the list in context on my Transgender Books page, which has reviews or links to reviews and discussions of them all.

3 Comments on Top Ten Trans Reads

  1. pannonica says:

    “…since after you read Jenny Boylan’s She’s Not There (which I assume everyone has) you don’t need to read any others”

    I thought everyone’s experience was different.

  2. lynnew says:

    Everyone’s experience is different, but not everyone is a writer. The joy of a good writer is that their experience, however different from yours, becomes universally accessible.

    Since most of the other so-called standards MTF trans bios are demonstrably execrable, JFB’s extraordinarily well-written SNT easily shoves the others out of the boat.

  3. pannonica says:

    Lynne, I’m well aware that Ms. Boylan is a professional writer and her memoir is of course much easier on the brain than the others. I was obliquely and I suppose snidely referencing a previous conversation under a different entry, but I think it was a mistake to do so. I’ve swiftly ostracized myself here (not that I had any intentions of joining this clique) by positing an extremely important observation that is threatening and upsetting to many. It just goes to prove that hypocrisy is rampant everywhere.

    As for She’s Not There, no matter how fluidly, charmingly, and honestly it appears to be written, I aver that its fictions,especially in the most critical and core sections, belie its validity.

    Why are so many so keen to capitalize on and exploit their “transness.” Is it because they’d have no chance of achieving notoriety otherwise?

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