Review: Trans Bodies Trans Selves

| Nov 20, 2017
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trans bodies coverTrans Bodies, Trans Selves was released in 2014. It’s hard to find in chain bookstores as it is huge, expensive, and well, it’s about us. Clocking in at a hefty 648 pages, this is an encyclopedia of transgender knowledge. It also has an introduction by New York Times best-selling author Jennifer Finney Boylan.

From their website:

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a resource guide for transgender populations, covering health, legal issues, cultural and social questions, history, theory, and more. It is a place for transgender and gender-questioning people, their partners and families, students, professors, guidance counselors, and others to look for up-to-date information on transgender life. It was published by Oxford University Press.

Each chapter of Trans Bodies, Trans Selves was written separate transgender or genderqueer authors. The book is aimed at a general transgender and gender-questioning audience, and when using complicated language, provides definitions and explanations. The tone is friendly and fun, and promotes trans-positive, feminist, and genderqueer advocacy. Included in each section are anonymous quotes from everyday people who have taken Trans Bodies surveys. Short opinion pieces and testimonials are also included in each chapter. Finally, each chapter contains references to resources such as books, movies, and organizations related to the chapter’s topic.

They say a lot more of course. I actually agree with what they say — the tone is friendly and non-threatening. There is some jargon, but the terms are explained so it’s not jarring. (See what I did there?)

The book has six sections:

  1. Who We Are
  2. Living as Ourselves
  3. Health and Wellness
  4. Our Relationships and Families
  5. Life Stages
  6. Claiming Our Power

Each section has subsections written by different authors. This makes the book a bit of a stylistic mess, but that’s okay. The point is that no one person has all of the answers — that the answers depend upon one’s point of view.

To further press that point, a lot of the book is based upon a massive survey of over 3000 trans people from around the world. (Yes, I was one of them.) Just like the text provided that the inspiration for this book: Our Bodies Our Selves, this book is spattered with anonymous quotes from those trans people, relevant to whatever section of text in which they are found.

Did I read this whole volume? No. It isn’t that kind of book. It’s meant to be a resource — to be used for whatever the reader requires. I’ve read more than 2/3 of it. There are sections that simply don’t apply to me, so I didn’t read them (such as having sex — I don’t have sex, as I am married.)

The book retails at $39.99, which is quite a bargain considering all that it contains. If you have the means, I highly recommend buying a copy. I think EVERY practicing therapist should have one — after all, eventually a trans person may set up an appointment, and it’s best to be ready. I wouldn’t be surprised if many libraries have this in their collections as well for check out.

Oh, and yes, I am quoted in this book. But I’m not telling you where — find it yourself. If you read my work, both here and in my blog, you’ll know it’s me.

Be Well.

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves Edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth: 9780199325351

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Category: Product Review, Transgender Body & Soul

Sophie Lynne

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