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Published Resources for transgender Women

Primary net resources

The American Library Association published a transgender bibliography in 2005. [PDF]

An excellent online bibliography exists at transray.com

Dallas Denny and JoAnn Roberts compiled an annotated bibliography in 2000.

Another good online source for scholarly research is the International Journal of Transgenderism by Haworth Press.

See also the 1997-2002 issues of International Journal of Transgenderism published by Symposion.

  • The IJT site contains an on-line version of Harry Benjamin's seminal 1966 book, The Transsexual Phenomenon, which is more interesting as a historical document than as an up-to-date guide to transsexual issues. However, it's interesting to see this first attempt at explanation and treatment.

My personal recommendations

While these items do not focus on practical aspects of transition, I found the following books and film especially interesting, informative and inspirational. I have only listed books I've read myself. One notable absence is True Selves, by Mildred Brown. Many women cite this as their own favorite, but I have not read it yet.

History and politics

Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg. (Beacon Press, 1997)

Leslie is a female-to-male, and has compiled an excellent overview of transgenderism in world history.

Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism, by Pat Califia (Cleis Press, 1997)

Pat has written an outstanding outline of transsexual history in the U.S. since the mid-fifties, focusing on contemporary issues. Scholarly, but not too dry.

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us, by Kate Bornstein (Vintage, 1994)

Kate's style is fun and accessible, and she raises some interesting questions about gender. However, it's a bit scattered, and she addresses her more compelling issues much more thoroughly and thoughtfully in her follow-up, My Gender Workbook.

Autobiographies

Branded T , by Rosalyne Blumenstein. (First Books, 2003)

See my page on Rosalyne Blumenstein for details on this great book and its amazing author.

Conundrum, by Jan Morris (Henry Holt & Co.).

Jan is a world-renowned travel writer. She has written a fascinating autobiography recalling her days accompanying the first expedition to scale Mt. Everest, up through her transition and life after. It's easily the best-written account, although some might find her style a bit inaccessible.

My Story, by Caroline Cossey (Faber and Faber, 1991).

Caroline's autobiography tells of her sex change and subsequent career as an international model under the name "Tula." Her appearance in a James Bond movie and growing fame led to her outing by the British tabloids. Maybe you saw her photo in an obnoxious Sauza Tequila ad a couple of years ago that said "she's a he" across her chest.

Wrapped In Blue: A Journey of Discovery, by Donna Rose (Living Legacy Press, 2003).

A thoughtful and frank memoir from a soman who was married with children when she decided to transition. She has had one of the more remarkable physical transformations as well. You can find more information about Donna and her book at donnarose.com.

Hidden in Plain Sight. by Leslie Townsend

Leslie's book is currently being revised for the second edition. I'll update this when the new version is abailable.

Leslie began transition at 19 and lived stealth for 18 years before deciding it was holding her back. Read my review here.

She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan

Jenny has written an engaging and often charming account of the joys and difficulties of her transition as a college professor. Buy it here.

Mom, I Need To Be a Girl. by Just Evelyn

Evelyn helped her MTF child transition at 15 and have SRS at 18. I found this to be a very touching book. Read it for free here.

Mark 947. by Calpernia Addams

Calpernia began transition after a strict religious upbringing and a stint in the Navy. While working as a showgirl, she was thrust into the media spotlight when her boyfriend was murdered by fellow soldiers. Read my review here.

From Within. by Vicky

Vicky's account of transition in her teens is both heartbreaking and uplifting. Read my review here.

‘O Au No Keia. by Andrew Matzner

An interesting collection of 14 first-hand narratives about life in Hawai'i's mahu and transgedered commmunities. Read my review here.


Shelf of shame

The Transsexual Empire, by Janice Raymond

This classic of transphobia compares us to rapists and Nazis, and remains the shrill voice of the transsexual backlash.

The Man Who Would Be Queen, by J. Michael Bailey

It took 24 years for someone to write a book as dehumanizing as Raymond's, but Bailey managed to do it.

Read my review on the Bailey-Blanchard-Lawrence clearinghouse.


Films

Unfortunately, public opinion of transgender women has been shaped in large part by two films, both based on a non-transgender serial killer named Ed Gein: Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho and Jonathan Demme's Silence of the Lambs. While both movies mention in passing that the killer is not really transgender, it does little to offset the image of the wig- or makeup-wearing mentally deranged killer burned into peoples' minds.

Transphobia in film: selected quotations

Luckily, in the past few years, some more sympathetic portrayals have emerged. I think all trans women should check out the following films:

Ma Vie En Rose [My Life In Pink] (Belgian, subtitled)

Now out on video, I think it's the most positive movie I've seen on transsexualism. It puts a human face on it, through the story of a six-year-old child dealing with gender identity. Sweet and sad and wonderful all at once.

Different for Girls

Possibly the most realistic depiction of what many white-collar trans women are like.

Boys Don't Cry

The harrowing story of a female-to-male named Brandon Teena, whose murder sparked the community to take political action. Arguably the single most important film to date in focusing public opinion on the hatred and marginalization we face.

First and foremost, this is a love story. It's the story of my friend Calpernia Addams' relationship with Barry Winchell, who was murdered by fellow soldiers for dating her. Read my review here.

Transgender themes in film

The most comprehensive site on this is JK's Transgender Movie Guide.

http://members.fortunecity.com/jayekayetv/tmovies

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This page last updated May 20, 2007