Bookworm picks: Trans works

By Compiled by Jacqui Stanford – 5th June 2013

The buzz around a new memoir telling the true story of a former Navy Seal who has come out as a transgender woman leads us into our list of trans fiction and memoirs to help get you through winter!

THE LATEST BUZZ:

Warrior Princess: A U.S. Navy SEAL‘s Journey to Coming out Transgender by Kristin Beck and Anne Speckhard
Recommended by OutServe

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Chris Beck played high school football. He bought a motorcycle, much to his mother’s dismay, at age 17. He grew up to become a U.S. Navy SEAL, serving our country for twenty years on thirteen deployments, including seven combat deployments, and ultimately earned a Purple Heart and the Bronze Star. To everyone who saw him, he was a hero. A warrior. A man.But underneath his burly beard, Chris had a secret, one that had been buried deep inside his heart since he was a little boy—one as hidden as the panty hose in the back of his drawer. He was transgender, and the woman inside needed to get out.

This is the journey of a girl in a man’s body and her road to self-actualization as a woman amidst the PTSD of war, family rejection and our society’s strict gender rules and perceptions. It is about a fight to be free inside one’s own body, a fight that requires the strength of a Warrior Princess.

Kristin’s story of boy to woman explores the tangled emotions of the transgender experience and opens up a new dialogue about being male or female: Is gender merely between your legs or is it something much bigger?

MUST-READS AND RECOMMENDED WORKS:

f2m: the boy within by Ryan Kennedy and Hazel Edwards
Recommended by GayNZ.com

“Tick the box. M or F. Male or Female are the only options ‘ordinary’ people know about. M for Male. F for Female. You’re one or the other. But what if you’re not? Like me. As I’m finding out.”

All adolescents face the quest for identity, but gender change complicates ‘coming of age’. Meet school-leaver Skye who is transitioning from female to male.

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us by Kate Bornstein
Recommended by Kirkus Reviews

Part coming-of-age story, part mind-altering manifesto on gender and sexuality, coming directly to you from the life experiences of a transsexual woman, Gender Outlaw breaks all the rules and leaves the reader forever changed.

I am J, by Cris Beam
Recommended by GayNZ.com reader @youngqueerbroke, who says it’s “an amazing coming-of-age book about a young trans* man, definitely recommend it.”

J had always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was: a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a “real boy” and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible — from his parents, from his friends, from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he’s done hiding — it’s time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.

Cris Beam delivers a powerful and inspiring story of self-discovery as readers share in J’s struggle to find his own path and to love his true self.

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Luna by Julie Anne Peters
Recommended by Goodreads readersRegan’s brother Liam can’t stand the person he is during the day. Like the moon from whom Liam has chosen his female namesake, his true self, Luna, only reveals herself at night. In the secrecy of his basement bedroom Liam transforms himself into the beautiful girl he longs to be, with help from his sister’s clothes and makeup. Now, everything is about to change-Luna is preparing to emerge from her cocoon. But are Liam’s family and friends ready to welcome Luna into their lives? Compelling and provocative, this is an unforgettable novel about a transgender teen’s struggle for self-identity and acceptance.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
Recommended by GayNZ.com

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“I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smog-less Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver’s license…records my first name simply as Cal.”So begins the breath-taking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of 1967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger
Recommended by Bookslut

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Angela Katz-McNair has never felt quite right as a girl. Her whole life is leading up to the day she decides to become Grady, a guy. While coming out as transgendered feels right to Grady, he isn’t prepared for the reaction he gets from everyone else. His mother is upset, his younger sister is mortified, and his best friend, Eve, won’t acknowledge him in public. Why can’t people just let Grady be himself?Grady’s life is miserable until he finds friends in some unexpected places — like the school geek, Sebastian, who explains that there is precedent in the natural world (parrotfish change gender when they need to, and the newly male fish are the alpha males), and Kita, a senior who might just be Grady’s first love.

Refuse by Elliott DeLine
Recommended by Smashwords

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Dean, a 22-year old female-to-male-transsexual, is no LGBT poster boy. Unemployed, depressed, mid-transition, and still living in the upstairs bedroom of his parents’ house in a conservative suburb, he can think of little to do but write his memoir. In the third person, he tells the tale of his would-be love affair with his college roommate, Colin, another trans man with a girlfriend and a successful indie rock band. The plot is interrupted intermittently by Dean’s first person commentary, often criticizing middle-class conformity, but the queer counter culture as well. He is obsessed with Morrissey of The Smiths, and wants nothing in life other than the same level of fame. As his far-fetched dreams become a foreseeable reality, he must decide between honesty and belonging, conformity or isolation, community or self.She’s My Dad by Iolanthe Woulff
Recommended by the LL Book Review

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For decades, ultra-liberal Windfield College has been a thorn in the side of Northern Virginia’s hidebound elite. When a teaching position unexpectedly becomes available, the school hires a former male graduate – now a transsexual woman named Nickie Farrell – as an assistant professor of English. Hoping to find peace, Nickie keeps her secret under wraps until ambitious lesbian student reporter Cinda Vanderhart outs her. And Cinda has noticed something else: both Nickie and a young townie waiter named Collie Skinner have a genetic quirk which causes their eyes to be different colours …Filled with richly-drawn characters and building to a stunning climax, SHE’S MY DAD is a story about the destructiveness of hate, the power of love, and the redemptive triumph of good over evil.

She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan

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Recommended by Goodreads readersThe provocative bestseller She’s Not There is the winning, utterly surprising story of a person changing genders. By turns hilarious and deeply moving, Jennifer Finney Boylan explores the territory that lies between men and women, examines changing friendships, and rejoices in the redeeming power of family.

Told in Boylan’s fresh voice, She’s Not There is about a person bearing and finally revealing a complex secret.

Through her clear eyes, She’s Not There provides a new window on the confounding process of accepting our true selves.

Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg
Recommended by GayNZ.com

Published in 1993, this brave, original novel is considered to be the finest account ever written of the complexities of a transgendered existence.

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Woman or man? That’s the question that rages like a storm around Jess Goldberg, clouding her life and her identity. Growing up differently gendered in a blue–collar town in the 1950s, coming out as a butch in the bars and factories of the pre-feminist 60s, deciding to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early 70s. This powerful, provocative and deeply moving novel sees Jess coming full circle, she learns to accept the complexities of being a transgendered person in a world demanding simple explanations.
Have recommendations you want us to add? Email them to jacqui@gaynz.com

Compiled by Jacqui Stanford – 5th June 2013
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