Literature and Poetry
Stories, songs, and poems move our hearts and inspire our imagination. Transgender people have a unique and special perspective of the world. Sit for a bit and enjoy a few minutes of literary refreshment from your trans-community. You might just find the Light in your heart shining a bit brighter.
A Safe Girl to Love
Casey Plett is a Canadian writer. She has won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction at the 27th Lambda Literary Awardsin 2015 for her debut short story collection A Safe Girl to Love, and an Honour of Distinction from the Dayne Ogilvie Prize for LGBT Emerging Writers in Canada.
Plett previously wrote a regular column about her gender transition for McSweeney's Internet Tendency. She is a book reviewer for the Winnipeg Free Press and has published work in Rookie, Plenitude, The Walrus, and Two Serious Ladies. She is the co-editor with Cat Fitzpatrick of an upcoming anthology of speculative fiction from trans authors from Topside Press. She has cited Imogen Binnie, Elena Rose, and Julia Serano as some of her influences.
Info from Wikipedia
She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders, was the first book published by an openly transgender
American to become a bestseller
The provocative bestseller She’s Not There is the exuberant memoir of a man named James who became a woman named Jenny.
She’s Not There is the story of a person changing genders, the story of a person bearing and finally revealing a complex secret; above all, it is a love story. By turns hilarious and deeply moving, Jennifer Finney Boylan explores the remarkable territory that lies between men and women, examines changing friendships, and rejoices in the redeeming power of family. She’s Not There is a portrait of a loving marriage—the love of James for his wife, Grace, and, against all odds, the enduring love of Grace for the woman who becomes her “sister,” Jenny.
The incredible stories of how trans men assimilated into mainstream communities in the late 1800s.
In 1883, Frank Dubois gained national attention for his life in Waupun, Wisconsin. There he was known as a hard-working man, married to a young woman named Gertrude Fuller. What drew national attention to his seemingly unremarkable life was that he was revealed to be anatomically female. Dubois fit so well within the small community that the townspeople only discovered his “true sex” when his former husband and their two children arrived in the town searching in desperation for their departed wife and mother.
At the turn of the twentieth century, trans men were not necessarily urban rebels seeking to overturn stifling gender roles. In fact, they often sought to pass as conventional men, choosing to live in small towns where they led ordinary lives, aligning themselves with the expectations of their communities. They were, in a word, unexceptional.
In True Sex, Emily Skidmore uncovers the stories of eighteen trans men who lived in the United States between 1876 and 1936. Despite their “unexceptional” quality, their lives are surprising and moving, challenging much of what we think we know about queer history. By tracing the narratives surrounding the moments of “discovery” in these communities – from reports in local newspapers to medical journals and beyond -- this book challenges the assumption that the full story of modern American sexuality is told by cosmopolitan radicals. Rather, True Sex reveals complex narratives concerning rural geography and community, persecution and tolerance, and how these factors intersect with the history of race, identity and sexuality in America.
Wow! This blank spot sure looks like it could have your writing written all over it it. Do you have a transtastic contribution you'd like to submit? Send it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tomorrow Will Be Different
"A brave, powerful memoir." —PEOPLE
A captivating memoir that will change the way we look at identity and equality in this
Before she became the first transgender person to speak at a national political convention in 2016 at the age of twenty-six, Sarah McBride struggled with the decision to come out—not just to her family but to the students of American University, where she was serving as student body president. She’d known she was a girl from her earliest memories, but it wasn’t until the Facebook post announcing her truth went viral that she realized just how much impact her story could have on the country.
Four years later, McBride was one of the nation’s most prominent transgender activists, walking the halls of the White House, advocating inclusive legislation, and addressing the country in the midst of a heated presidential election. She had also found her first love and future husband, Andy, a trans man and fellow activist, who complemented her in every way . . . until cancer tragically intervened.
Informative, heartbreaking, and profoundly empowering, Tomorrow Will Be Different is McBride’s story of love and loss and a powerful entry point into the LGBTQ community’s battle for equal rights and what it means to be openly transgender. From issues like bathroom access to health care to gender in America, McBride weaves the important political and cultural milestones into a personal journey that will open hearts and change minds.
As McBride urges: “We must never be a country that says there’s only one way to love, only one way to look, and only one way to live.”
The fight for equality and freedom has only just begun.
To Be Transgender
The first time I uttered a prayer was in a glass-stained cathedral.
I was kneeling long after the congregation was on its feet,
dip both hands into holy water,
trace the trinity across my chest,
my tiny body drooping like a question mark
all over the wooden pew.
I asked Jesus to fix me,
and when he did not answer
I befriended silence in the hopes that my sin would burn
and salve my mouth would dissolve like sugar on tongue,
but shame lingered as an aftertaste.
And in an attempt to reintroduce me to sanctity,
my mother told me of the miracle I was,
said I could grow up to be anything I want.
I decided to be a boy.
It was cute.
I had snapback, toothless grin,
used skinned knees as street cred,
played hide and seek with what was left of my goal.
I was it.
The winner to a game the other kids couldn't play,
I was the mystery of an anatomy,
a question asked but not answered,
tightroping between awkward boy and apologetic girl,
and when I turned 12, the boy phase wasn't deemed cute anymore.
It was met with nostalgic aunts who missed seeing my knees in the shadow of skirts,
who reminded me that my kind of attitude would never bring a husband home,
that I exist for heterosexual marriage and child-bearing.
And I swallowed their insults along with their slurs.
Naturally, I did not come out of the closet.
The kids at my school opened it without my permission.
Called me by a name I did not recognize,
but I was more boy than girl, more Ken than Barbie.
It had nothing to do with hating my body,
I just love it enough to let it go,
I treat it like a house,
and when your house is falling apart,
you do not evacuate,
you make it comfortable enough to house all your insides,
you make it pretty enough to invite guests over,
you make the floorboards strong enough to stand on.
My mother fears I have named myself after fading things.
As she counts the echoes left behind by Mya Hall, Leelah Alcorn, Blake Brockington.
She fears that I'll die without a whisper,
that I'll turn into "what a shame" conversations at the bus stop.
She claims I have turned myself into a mausoleum,
that I am a walking casket,
news headlines have turned my identity into a spectacle,
Bruce Jenner on everyone's lips while the brutality of living in this body
becomes an asterisk at the bottom of equality pages.
No one ever thinks of us as human
because we are more ghost than flesh,
because people fear that my gender expression is a trick,
that it exists to be perverse,
that it ensnares them without their consent,
that my body is a feast for their eyes and hands
and once they have fed off my queer,
they'll regurgitate all the parts they did not like.
They'll put me back into the closet, hang me with all the other skeletons.
I will be the best attraction.
Can you see how easy it is to talk people into coffins,
to misspell their names on gravestones.
And people still wonder why there are boys rotting,
they go away in high school hallways
they are afraid of becoming another hashtag in a second
afraid of classroom discussions becoming like judgment day
and now oncoming traffic is embracing more transgender children than parents.
I wonder how long it will be
before the trans suicide notes start to feel redundant,
before we realize that our bodies become lessons about sin
way before we learn how to love them.
Like God didn't save all this breath and mercy,
like my blood is not the wine that washed over Jesus' feet.
My prayers are now getting stuck in my throat.
Maybe I am finally fixed,
maybe I just don't care,
maybe God finally listened to my prayers.
Source: Ted Talks
ADAM (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) When Adam Freedman—a skinny, awkward, inexperienced teenager from Piedmont, California—is sent by his parents to join his older sister Casey in New York City, he is hopeful that his life is about to change. And it sure does. It is the summer of 2006, a year of gay marriage demonstrations and the rise of transgender rights, and Casey has thrust herself into that scene. Soon, Adam finds himself part of a wild lesbian subculture complete with underground clubs, drinking, and hot older women everywhere he turns. It takes some time for him to realize that many in this new crowd assume he is trans—a boy who was born a girl—or why else would this baby-faced guy always be around? Then Adam meets Gillian, the girl of his dreams — but she’s a lesbian and couldn’t possibly be interested in him. Unless—it occurs to Adam—passing as a trans guy might actually work in his favor…
Ariel Schrag’s scathingly funny and poignant debut novel puts a fresh spin on questions of love, attraction, self-definition, and what it takes to be at home in your own skin.
Selected for the Morning News Tournament of Books 2015
“Hilarious…Schrag’s riotous, poignant debut novel will leave you reeling.” — SF Weekly
Read Interview with Ariel Schrag Here: The Forward
Transgender Crime Scene Cleaner Novel Wins Top Victorian Literary Prize
Melbourne writer Sarah Krasnostein has won Australia’s richest literary prize at the 2018 Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards.
Read full story here: The Daily Review
This book. Wow.
Harrowing. Courageous. Repulsive. Compelling. Heartbreaking. Uplifting. Fascinating.
The Trauma Cleaner, like its star, Sandra Pankhurst, is genre-defying. Author Sarah Krasnostein shadowed Sandra over a number of years, observing her day-to-day activities and recording the story of her life before she was a cleaner. And that story is remarkable – Sandra was a husband and father, drag queen, sex reassignment patient, sex worker, businesswoman, and trophy wife. As a ‘trauma cleaner’, Sandra cleans places others dare not go – homicide, suicide and death scenes; meth labs; homes of hoarders; and places ravaged by water, mould and filth.
Sandra knows her clients as well as they know themselves; she airs out their smells, throws out their weird porn, their photos, their letters, the last traces of their DNA entombed in soaps and toothbrushes. She does not, however, erase these people. She couldn’t. She has experienced their same sorrows.
It’s very much Sandra’s story but you never lose Krasnostein’s voice in its telling – specifically, her reaction to the messes and squalor Sandra faces every day; her compassion as she relays the trauma in Sandra’s personal life; and her deep admiration for a woman whose resilience is truly remarkable.
Read the full review here: booksaremyfavouriteandbest
If I should have a son,
who one day comes to me and tells me
of the daughter living in those bones -
the flesh of my flesh, blood of my blood
I will take her chin in gentle hands
and kiss her forehead with soft lips.
I will whisper nothing but,
“You are beautiful.
You are beautiful.
You are beautiful.”
I will bury the ashes of my shattered son,
and rise on the wings of my phoenix-born girl.
I will speak her chosen name with confidence -
I will say it like a prayer each night as I tuck her in to sleep.
If I should have a daughter,
who one day comes to me and says
there is a boy breathing with those lungs -
the ones I built, cell by cell
that this chest is heavy with excess tissue,
I will show him how to bind it safely, and
when he says that this hair grows far too long,
I will be the first to grab the scissors.
….Then grab the keys, and take him to a barber
who can fix the mess I made -
When I made this body with my own,
When I lost the blueprints of the person he was meant to be
He helped me find them, years after the project was considered
a completed success, helped me realize that I am not
a perfect architect, but that accidents can be beautiful -
My son is not a mistake. Will never be a mistake
that he will know, always know,
I will move heaven and earth to keep him safe.
If I should someday have a child, who fails to fit into society’s
cookie-cutter boxes of gender conformity,
I will not blame them for breaking the mold,
will not agonize their excess, or lament them not enough.
I will pull out my old photos, teach them words like
genderqueer and androgyne.
I will learn a new language – new pronouns
falling from my lips like drops of rain onto parched soil,
and they will grow.
My children will grow.
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us
A thoughtful challenge to gender ideology that continually asks difficult questions about identity, orientation, and desire. Bornstein cleverly incorporates cultural criticism, dramatic writing, and autobiography to make her point that gender (which she distinguishes from sex) is a cultural rather than a natural phenomenon. The chapters range from ``fashion tips'' on her writing style to dialogue between herself and another about the ``nuts and bolts'' of the surgical process of a gender change (which she has undergone). Confronting transgenderism and transgendered people is not easy for many individuals, but Bornstein does it in a way that sparks debate without putting her audience on the defensive. She suggests that ``the culture may not simply be creating roles for naturally-gendered people, the culture may in fact be creating the gendered people.'' Her discussion of the ``parts'' of gender is based on respected sources and includes analyses of gender assignment, identity, and roles. Things get mixed up, according to Bornstein, because ``sexual orientation/preference is based in this culture solely on the gender of one's partner of choice,'' in effect confusing orientation and preference. Seeing queer theater as a place in which gender ambiguity and fluidity can and should be explored, she includes in the book her play, Hidden: A Gender. Bornstein uses the term ``gender defenders'' to describe those who work hard to maintain the current rigid system of gender, and she claims that her ``people'' (i.e., the transgendered) are just beginning to challenge the system and to demand acceptance and understanding. Bornstein's witty style, personal approach, and frankness open doors to questioning gender assumptions and boundaries.
Note from Salina: I read this book - if you're in the beginning stages of trying to understand "Why am I this way?" be ready to have your mind and every preconception you've had about gender to be Totally. Blown. Away. Whether or not you like the book will be irrelevant - you'll not put it down without having your perceptions changed.