In the Blog
Some Book Love for the New Year
A recent area of interest of mine in the realm of reading has been memoir-style accounts that deal with Trans issues. Shameless has touched on this before, and a few books this season have been fleshing out the field for me. One book that has been paticularily striking is Cris Beam’s Transparent, a very personal and poignant account of her experiences teaching and “interviewing” trans youth is Los Angeles. Although the book does a great job of creating a portrait of the youth trans spectrum, her particular focus is MTF (male to female transexuals.) It is evident that Beams values the friendships she developed with the women she’s studied, and the book is all at once beautiful, moving, thoughtful and witty, written in a style that successfully humanizes often misunderstood issues of sexuality. The book is informative while it is narrative, so not only does it act as a moving portrait of the struggle of Beam’s subjects, it also informs the reader as to what social, political, health and familial issues face transgendered and transexual teens.
Helen Boyd’s next book, She’s Not The Man I Married, will be released in March 2007, so now is a good time to pick up My Husband Betty, “the first book to explore the relationships of crossdressing men and their female partners.” Much like Beam. Boyd’s writing does an excellent job of making the political personal, sharing the emotional details of her daily reality with a trans partner, while utilizing the backdrop of a larger political and social context. Boyd’s become a bit of a celebrity in the MTF trans community, her blog a staple in the informed trans (or feminist, for that matter) diet, and her community message boards becoming a supportive and valuable space to discuss and share.
And finally, from the FTM bookshelf, there’s The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male, another memoir style depiction of a man who “grew up to be a lesbian-feminist who, after seeing the boxing film Raging Bull at age 23, began to understand that she was really a man.” Seal Press has a fantastic habit of putting out books that challenge gender-normative thought (okay, sorry about the plug) and are worth a look if you want to brush up on some quality cultural theory. Happy reading!