One of the best ways to get to know us is to meet us as individuals. Following are memoirs and personal reflections that I found particularly revealing about peoples’ interior lives. They include works by transgender people and their families.
I find these books to be some of the most useful and fascinating of the memoir genre. You gain many different perspectives in one book. Contributors share their greatest insights and most poignant moments. These collections cover all of the other memoir categories below.
- Trans-Kin: A Guide for Family & Friends of Transgender People. Hubbard, Eleanor A. and Cameron T. Whitley. 2012. Boulder: Bolder Press. Although the title suggests that it is a guide, it is really a collection of vignettes built from about 50 interviews. Includes experiences of significant others, family, friends, allies and transgender people. Excellent directory of trans-kin organizations.
- Letters for My Sisters: Transitional Wisdom in Retrospect. James, Andrea and Deanne Thornton. 2014. Oakland: Transgress Press. Transgender women share their experiences and hard-earned wisdom in 33 brief essays.
- Manning Up: Transsexual Men on Finding Brotherhood, Family & Themselves. Keig, Zander and Mitch Kellaway, eds. 2014. Oakland: Transgress Press. Eye-opening for me. Moving accounts by trans men, many of them people of color, as they struggle to adapt to their new social identity. As men, are they now people of privilege or targets?
- Letters for My Brothers: Traditional Wisdom in Retrospect, Rohrer, Megan M. and Zander Keig, eds. (2010) 2014. 4th Printing. United States: Wilgefortis. Searingly honest advice from the battle-scarred. These people share how they coped with shame, alcohol, violence, privilege and many other unexpected elements of transition.
- Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge & Resilience. Johnson, Jordon and Becky Garrison, eds. 2015. Oakland: Transgress Press. A collection of moving essays by partners of trans people. One of them, an essay by Blair Braverman, inspired me to write Shadows and Sunlight.
Memoirs — Family Members
- My Husband Betty: Love, Sex and Life with a Crossdresser. Boyd, Helen. 2003. Berkeley: Seal Press. A searching look at the gender spectrum and a brutally honest account of what it feels like to be married to (or to be) a cross dresser. Includes interviews with a variety of interesting personalities.
- She’s Not the Man I Married: Life with a Transgendered Husband. Boyd, Helen. 2007. Berkeley: Seal Press. As her husband, Betty, considers living as a woman full time, Boyd struggles. She shares her confusion and anger, providing a fascinating observation of the ways in which relationships are gendered. Many memorable observations and quotes.
- My Husband’s a Woman Now. Fabian, Leslie Hilburn. 2014. College Station: Virtualbookworm.com Publishing. Story of a wife’s efforts to support her husband’s transition even as she grieved the loss of her male partner.
- My Brother, My Sister: Story of a Transformation. Haskell, Holly. 2013. Haskell, a well-known feminist film critic follows her brother’s/sister’s transition. Offers thoughtful commentary on what both of them went through.
- Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoods–My Mother’s, My Father’s, and Mine. Howey, Noelle. 2003. New York: MacMillan. A daughter recounts her father’s transition in suburban Ohio. A loving portrait of her complicated relationship to her father’s femininity and her own.
Memoirs — Adult Transitioners
- She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. Boylan, Jennifer Finney. 2003. A sweetly sentimental and deeply reflective examination of her changing relationships and personal growth as she transitions.
- Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders. Boylan, Jennifer Finney. 2013. Examines parenthood based on her experience parenting in both genders and on interviews with non-trans people. Raises interesting philosophical questions about parenting.
- Transparently: Behind the Scenes of a Good Life. Salazar, Lisa. 2011. A devoutly Christian husband and father struggles for ten years with his diagnosis of gender dysphoria before deciding to transition to womanhood.
- No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth. Stevens, Grace Anne. 2015. Graceful Change Press. Stevens artfully captures her mental struggle through the book’s gradual shift in pronouns. You can hear the debate as it evolves inside her head. She offers coaching, training and consulting to on organizational and individual change (Link).
Memoirs – Child / Teen / Young Adult Transitioners
- Some Assembly Required: The Not-So Secret Life of a Transgender Teen. Andrews, Arin. 2104. New York: Simon & Schuster. Arin does an amazing job of describing what it feels like inside to be a teen in the wrong body.
- I am Jazz. Herthel, Jessica. 2014. Dial Books. Written for preschoolers. Jazz shares, in simple, engaging language, what it is like to feel like you are in the wrong body.
- Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More. Mock, Janet. 2014. New York: Simon & Schuster. I especially enjoyed Janet’s story because—even though it is so different from my own—I could identify with her humanity. What a wonderful, thoughtful soul.
- Second Son: Transitioning Toward My Destiny, Love and Life. Sallans, Ryan K.. 2013. Omaha: Scout Publishing, LLC. Ryan chronicles his struggles with his body, his family his partner, and a near-fatal case of anorexia.
These can be entertaining, insightful, and poignant. I have not included them above because they tend to celebrate lifestyles and careers that few of us expect to replicate. I include in this category, memoirs by Kate Bornstein, Caroline Cossey (Tula), Renee Richards, Kristin Beck, and Chaz Bono. All very cool people.
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