Reading is a great way to get a peek into someone else’s life, and there are so many stories from people all along the gender spectrum to learn about. We’ve made a list of books to check out if you’re looking to know more about gender studies and trans issues. Some of our picks include tell-all biographies, guides for those new to the concept of transgenderism, and historical reviews of famous activists in the trans movement.
If you want to gain some more knowledge on gender studies, pick out a gift for an interested friend, or have a useful resource handy around the house, check out our list and see if any of these books jump out at you!
Biographies and Memoirs
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More
An autobiography of a multiracial trans woman, Janet Mock’s book details her personal story while highlighting shared experiences of both trans women and women of colour. Her candid writing will take you through the narrative of her struggles and triumphs to see what one heroine made out of her humble beginnings.
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
This autobiography by biologist and transgender activist Julia Serano examines society’s attitudes towards femininity. She writes about her experiences both before and after transitioning with a focus on how our attitudes towards gender and trans women are shaped.
Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen
This memoir of a seventeen-year-old student describes the experience of deciding to undergo gender reassignment. Arin Andrews details the challenges of transitioning in high school and reminds us that self-acceptance is something to be built.
She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders
Written by Jennifer Finney Boylan, this autobiography is a story about sex-change. Filled with plenty of humour, your ideas on gender may also change after reading this book.
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us
This book offers both humour and history to explain the often hostile world of gender politics. Kate Bornstein uses her life experiences as a transgender woman to discuss the two-gender system and those who don’t fit into it.
As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl
Based on the famous story of David Reimer, this book details a radical medical procedure that altered a baby’s gender in 1967. John Colapinto recounts the dramatic events and the decisions that one man made after discovering the truth about himself.
Becoming a Visible Man
Part autobiography, part analysis, Jamison Green offers a look into the experience of a female-to-male transition and the challenges faced along the way including hardships with family, encounters of ignorance and prejudice, and the limited visibility of the FTM community.
The Testosterone Files: My Hormonal and Social Transformation from Female to Male
Max Valerio’s three part autobiography addresses the emotional and physical changes involved in FTM transitioning. Also touching on male privilege, physical and biological differences in sex, and self-perception, this book will challenge and change your thoughts on the gender binary.
Sexual Metamorphosis: An Anthology of Transsexual Memoirs
These memoirs come from some of the early pioneers in gender variance. The stories come from a time that may now seem alien to some people today, though the emotions detailed in them will continue to resonate with readers no matter the generation.
Suits Me: The Double Life of Billy Tipton
A fascinating biography that tells the tale of Billy Tipton, born Dorothy Tipton, who had a long and successful life as a performer, husband, and father, with a well-kept secret from nearly everyone in his life.
Trans: A Memoir
The frank writing style of Juliet Jacques accompanies her memoir of her undergoing sex reassignment surgery, one change among many in her journey of self actualization. Her honest, self-reflective tone takes you through her struggles and frustrations with the media and politics as she pushes towards her goals of happiness and fulfilment.
Crossing: A Memoir
Growing up in the conservative culture of the 1950s and ’60s, Deirdre McCloskey’s childhood as a young boy and her adult life as a woman are starkly separated by the gender line. Her journey to learn how to be a woman reveals much of her own insecurities as well as our assumptions about gender identity.
Nina Here Nor There: My Journey Beyond Gender
In both attraction and self-identification, gender is a complex part of the equation. This memoir explores both as a young Nina Krieger discovers queer friends in San Francisco’s Castro neighbourhood and discovers more of herself in the process.
Guides and Self Help
The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals
This handbook is a great guide for families, providing advice and introductory knowledge on raising transgender children. From cribs to college, it will address the myriad of issues that come up along the way, and how an understanding parent can navigate them.
Gender Born, Gender Made: Raising Healthy Gender-Nonconforming Children
Another resource about children living outside of gender norms, this book is useful for parents, educators, and clinicians alike. Written by developmental and clinical psychologist Diane Ehrensaft, this book will help create the framework to set children up to be unique and gender-authentic.
Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community
This guide written by a collection of transgender or genderqueer contributors seeks to showcase a wide variety of viewpoints and backgrounds. Compiled and edited to represent the diversity of trans communities, flipping through the chapters reveals there is no one way to be transgender.
Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue
This introductory guide covers common topics surrounding transgenderism including gender identity, the coming out process, discrimination, and the development of the transgender movement. Written by a member of the transgender community, the book also explores psychological, social, and physical processes and the characteristics of gender dysphoria.
GLBTQ: The Survival Guide for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning Teens
This updated edition of GLBTQ (2003) has a host of new information on rights, political and social efforts, and advice for queer or questioning people. This is an excellent, straightforward resource for youth whether they are questioning their identity or looking for a starting point on promoting the rights of queer groups.
Helping Your Transgender Teen: A Guide for Parents
Tackling the difficult subject of gender identity among adolescents, this book makes a complex topic easily accessible. Irwin Krieger brings his years of experience as a clinical social worker to this guide in order to provide parents with the information they need to support their teenage children.
Historical and Non-fiction
Transgender History (Seal Studies)
The chapters in this book chronologically detail some of the most important aspects of transgender history including movements, events, and writing starting from the mid-twentieth century. Sidebars include interesting quotes and biographies by key icons and activists.
Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation
Here’s a book that takes both new and old voices to create a collection of stories and works by a variety of trans and genderqueer individuals. The writers dig in to describe the new generation’s experience and attitudes towards sex and gender.
Neither Man Nor Woman: The Hijras of India
An ethnography describing a religious community of men in India who dress and act like women, this cultural study will interest those wanting to know more about variation in human sexualities and genders.
Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category
Author and former safer-sex activist in the 70s, David Valentine explores the usage of ‘transgender’ as an inclusive new category to express gender identity rather than sexual identity. His book describes the political and social influences that led to the emergence of the term.
How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States
Among the groups that underwent dramatic changes in the twentieth century, transsexuals questioned a seemingly fixed aspect of themselves in gender. This story covers the social, political, and medical shifts towards our understanding of sex as more complex than a biological certainty.
Transgender Warriors : Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman
This compendium of transgender figures in history is a resource for the times, pulling stories together to describe the concept of how a person’s humanity can be seen regardless of where they fit on the enormously wide spectrum of gender.
The Riddle of Gender
Taking a look at the many forms of gender variance throughout time, Deborah Rudacille applies research and interviews to the task of examining the sexual revolution, our assumptions of categories such as ‘male’, ‘female’, and ‘transsexual’.
Studies and Collections
Transitions of the Heart: Stories of Love, Struggle and Acceptance by Mothers of Transgender and Gender Variant Children
This is a collection of stories by mothers and children on their personal experiences of transitioning. Edited by gender specialist Rachel Pepper, Transitions of the Heart has a personal touch that makes it a source of reassurance and guidance for parents of gender variant children.
Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics
This collection of poems by trans writers of diverse backgrounds and styles features 55 poets covering a number of topics and including reflections by them on the context behind their works.
Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity
Another collection of essays, this anthology discusses and challenges society’s attitudes on gender identity and the notion of ‘passing’. The stories included are based on what it means to stand out from a crowd and reject simplistic categorization in favour of authenticity.
Transfeminist Perspectives in and beyond Transgender and Gender Studies (Lambda Literary Award: Transgender)
This award-winning book takes a close look at the connections between transgender studies and feminist work. Focused on gender studies and related disciplines, Anne Enke examines how gender is treated in different aspects of our lives including academia, social work, and health care.
Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality
The experiences of transgender men point accusingly at systemic inequality between genders, especially through the assumptions of differences between men and women. Author Kristen Schilt uses studies and interviews to shed light on the fact that trans men can actually gain acceptance and privileges in society by becoming “just one of the guys”.
We hope you found some interesting titles in there. Which ones are you into? Biographies? Self-help? Leave a comment about your opinion on these or any other great reads you’ve come across!