Collection of personal statements on gender from trans folks
July 26, 2018 10:15 PM   Subscribe

Is there anything out there like a compendium of trans people's writing about what it means to be a man or woman to them? Looking for a diversity of voices as specific to that question as possible, so not a single person's memoir or a treatise on gender.

Maybe I don't have a very strong gender identity—I'd identify as male (cis) if asked and yet don't particularly feel connected to others through "maleness"—but this has always been a disconnect in my head when listening to trans folks.

No trans 101s I've found address it; they all seem to assume a shared understanding of what it means to sense/feel that one is male or female in some deep and essential way.

Anything out there for people like me, so I don't feel like I'm just nodding along?

This is not a debate on the validity of anyone's identity (here or elsewhere). I am specifically looking for information resources. Could be an anthology. Could be a webpage with paragraph-length quotes from a variety of people.
posted by anonymous to Society & Culture (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
It's from 2003, but you're sort of describing Finding the Real Me: True Tales of Sex and Gender Diversity. Let me disclaim by saying I last read this book in 2005 or 2006. As I recall, it was aiming for a diversity of voices, so it's not really "here are a bunch of binary-identified trans people", but I think that part of your question is perhaps a misconception.

Maybe I don't have a very strong gender identity—I'd identify as male (cis) if asked and yet don't particularly feel connected to others through "maleness"—but this has always been a disconnect in my head when listening to trans folks.

Honestly, this kind of sums up my post-transition relationship to gender. (And my pre- and during-transition relationship, too, but the conflict between "I need to transition" and "I don't really think there's some sort of core (fe)maleness" meant skewing towards "maybe there is something after all, but that's awfully essentialist" rather than "eh". You can find comments on MeFi where I assert I'm strongly gendered.) I'm pretty sure what you're experiencing is coming from some combination of not being strongly gendered, being cis and the fact that people (cis and trans) are generally really bad at talking about gender. I too am happy to talk if you wish.
posted by hoyland at 3:43 AM on July 27, 2018 [2 favorites]

The Univeristy of Minnesota’s Tretter Collection did a huge oral history project. This link is to the exhibition site. Follow the link to the full collection for more personal stories.
posted by advicepig at 4:25 AM on July 27, 2018

I’m from Driftwood has a wide ranging collection of LGBT people’s stories, there are several trans stories grouped together.
posted by nikaspark at 5:31 AM on July 27, 2018 [1 favorite]

This Washington Post article may not be exactly what you're looking for, but it has four transgender men's stories that may be of interest.
posted by XtineHutch at 6:47 AM on July 27, 2018

Please take the Washington Post article with a grain of salt. It just ends up reading like it's using trans men to suggest male privilege doesn't exist (even though three of the four participants are damn clear that it does), which is a pretty astonishing feat for something entirely in the first person.

I'm waiting on Unbound from the library, and have just read the intro, but do keep in mind the author does not have a deep background in trans issues.
posted by hoyland at 6:52 AM on July 27, 2018

Gender Outlaws: the Next Generation edited by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves may be useful. They're currently working on a new edition but that won't come out until 2021.

Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out won the ALA Stonewall Honor Award for Young Adult Literature.

For that matter, check out the ALA Stonewall Awards and Lambda Literary. I haven't read it yet, but the current winner for LGBTQ anthology is ¡Cuéntamelo! Oral Histories by LGBT Latino Immigrants edited by Juliana Delgado Lopera. Last year's was The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care edited by Zena Sharman which was a really hard read, but very good.

It's not a collection/anthology, but Gender Failure by Ivan Coyote and Rae Spoon is fantastic. It's the book version of a performance they toured. Ivan Coyote has written and edited a bunch of really interesting gender-related works, too.
posted by carrioncomfort at 7:50 AM on July 27, 2018

Memail me if you want some links!
posted by masquesoporfavor at 8:44 AM on July 27, 2018

I agree that non-binary resources might be helpful. There are a bunch of facebook groups for NB people; this group specifically is also open to cis people who are interested in learning more about non-binary identities.

Also, if you haven't, I think Stone Butch Blues is an interesting work in this regard. Though it's a semi-autobiographical account of a AFAB butch person who eventually transitions and then, later, settles on a less binary identity, it also deals with identification with various queer subcultures and both the benefits and drawbacks of this (for example, there is an account late in the book of a butch woman who doesn't fit well into the queer culture of the time because she loves other butch women). It's available for free on Leslie Feinberg's website.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:52 AM on July 27, 2018

I asked a similar question awhile ago - basically, what it means to "feel" male or female. There are a lot of very thoughtful comments that you might find informative.
posted by ersatzhuman at 12:49 AM on July 29, 2018 [1 favorite]

I'm coming back to anti-recommend Unbound. I'm 40 pages in (it's only 250 pages long) and, so far, it's all What Cis People Think About Trans People coupled with occasional bits that make it painfully obvious that the author is not familiar with the trans community, never mind the transmasculine community. It's not bad, it just does not appear to be worth reading if you're interested in trans people's experiences of gender.

(Stone Butch Blues was hugely important in transmasculine spaces 15-20 years ago. But keep in mind that you're very likely missing cultural context for it.)
posted by hoyland at 3:45 PM on July 30, 2018

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