Recently, one of my cousins sent me questions from a class of 8th graders she teaches. They were curious to know more about my experience of being transgender. I always appreciate being able to share my thoughts and feelings with others, especially with people who haven’t thought much about gender and have just accepted the prevailing view of a binary construct of male and female. I enjoy having the chance to provide them with a perspective they hadn’t considered before. I’ve also had friends ask if they can share the Fierce Vulnerability blog with their family and friends who are interested in understanding more about the trans experience. Considering these opportunities to illuminate others on this important subject, and realizing that more people might end up here while seeking this kind of info, I decided to post links to the websites and articles I typically offer to others when they want or need to know more. These are some of my favorites, but certainly not all that are out there. It’s good to take the time to educate yourself if you’re looking to be informed about trans issues, especially if this desire comes from wanting to be a good ally to trans people you know, or who may cross your path during this lifetime. We appreciate it when people have taken time to do their own research before approaching us for answers to their questions. Please recognize that the experience of being transgender isn’t uniform. Not all trans people will deal with everything discussed in these guides, and our paths are varied when it comes to how we each choose to pursue our own authentic lives as we seek to embody and express our true genders.
Gender Spectrum provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for all children and teens. I like their page on Understanding Gender as an accessible starting place for anyone who’s interested in the topic of gender. They also have a Resource page with many links for parents of trans children navigating the education system, medical and legal information, and more.
The American Psychological Association provides a well-written pamphlet with Answers to Your Questions about Transgender People, Gender Identity, and Gender Expression. Also available in Spanish.
It’s also important to understand the role that transphobia plays in our society and how it influences the oppression and exclusion of trans people. Related to this is trans-misogyny. Feminists have been working for a long time to eradicate the deep-seated misogyny that exists in our culture in order to bring respect and equality to women and all things feminine. We are constantly subjected to a culture of misogyny that has placed women and femininity in a position inferior to men and masculinity, and this has a significant impact on how trans women are perceived and treated. Julia Serano is an outspoken advocate who has highlighted this issue with her book Whipping Girl. I highly recommend her book for an in-depth academic treatment of this subject but, for starters, here’s a shorter Transmisogyny Primer.
Transgender Law Center is a legal advocate organization committed to changing law, policy, and attitudes so that all people can live safely, authentically, and free from discrimination regardless of their gender identity or expression. They have a lot of valuable resources available on their website, including ID Please, which I found very helpful as I made my way through the process of changing my legal name and gender in California. They also provided an educational presentation to my coworkers during a staff meeting after I came out at work and began transitioning to my new gender on the job. I was grateful to have them available to answer questions, and I’ve received several comments from my colleagues letting me know that they appreciated the presentation and found it enlightening.
A couple of my favorite blogs are by mothers with gender fabulous children. Gendermom and Raising My Rainbow provide loving and intimate insights, and demonstrate the essence of fierce vulnerability. I appreciate the fresh perspectives they offer on gender and parenting, and the level of understanding and compassion they both exhibit is beautiful to behold. I’ve been following gendermom for a while and what she says about the realities her daughter is facing now, and will come up against in the future as part of the trans female experience, really resonate with what I’ve been dealing with all throughout my life, and even more so lately. The Vagina Dialogues and Tom Boy Trans Girl are good examples of this, and I really like the gendermom FAQ and How Old is Gender? She also wrote a great article recently for Mutha Magazine with a brochure on How to Talk to Your Children About Gender Identity.
Here’s a recent article that does a great job exploring the challenges faced by trans kids, their parents, and the rest of the family as they seek acceptance in a world that is often unkind to anyone who deviates from the gender norm.
Finally, for those of you who want even more, there are a lot of good books on gender topics. This reading list is a good place to start. Some of my favorites are Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein, Stone Butch Blues and Trans Liberation by Leslie Feinberg, Whipping Girl by Julia Serano, She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan, Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism by Patrick Califia, Androgyny: The Opposites Within by June Singer, and My Story by Caroline Cossey, which was the first book on this subject that I nervously purchased (special-order no less!) from a bookstore near my hometown when I was 15 years old after seeing an interview with Caroline/Tula on TV.