The IJT site contains an on-line version of Harry Benjamin's seminal 1966
book, The Transsexual Phenomenon, which is more interesting
as a historical document than as an up-to-date guide to transsexual issues.
However, it's interesting to see this first attempt at explanation and treatment.
My personal recommendations
While these items do not focus on practical aspects of transition, I found the
following books and film especially interesting, informative and inspirational.
I have only listed books I've read myself. One notable absence is True Selves,
by Mildred Brown. Many women cite this as their own favorite, but I have not
read it yet.
History and politics
Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg. (Beacon Press, 1997)
Leslie is a female-to-male, and has compiled an excellent overview of transgenderism
in world history.
Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism, by Pat Califia (Cleis Press, 1997)
Pat has written an outstanding outline of transsexual history in the U.S. since the mid-fifties, focusing on contemporary issues. Scholarly, but not too dry.
Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us, by Kate Bornstein (Vintage, 1994)
Kate's style is fun and accessible, and she raises some interesting questions about gender. However, it's a bit scattered, and she addresses her more compelling issues much more thoroughly and thoughtfully in her follow-up, My Gender Workbook.
Branded T , by Rosalyne Blumenstein. (First Books, 2003)
Jan is a world-renowned travel writer. She has written a fascinating autobiography
recalling her days accompanying the first expedition to scale Mt. Everest,
up through her transition and life after. It's easily the best-written account,
although some might find her style a bit inaccessible.
My Story, by Caroline Cossey (Faber and Faber, 1991).
Caroline's autobiography tells of her sex change and subsequent career as
an international model under the name "Tula." Her appearance in
a James Bond movie and growing fame led to her outing by the British tabloids.
Maybe you saw her photo in an obnoxious Sauza Tequila ad a couple of years
ago that said "she's a he" across her chest.
Wrapped In Blue: A Journey of Discovery, by Donna Rose (Living Legacy Press, 2003).
A thoughtful and frank memoir from a soman who was married with children when she decided to transition. She has had one of the more remarkable physical transformations as well. You can find more information about Donna and her book at donnarose.com.
Hidden in Plain Sight. by Leslie Townsend
Leslie's book is currently being revised for the second edition. I'll update this when the new version is abailable.
Leslie began transition at 19 and lived stealth for 18 years before deciding
it was holding her back. Read
my review here.
She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
Jenny has written an engaging and often charming account of the joys and
difficulties of her transition as a college professor. Buy
Mom, I Need To Be a Girl. by Just Evelyn
Evelyn helped her MTF child transition at 15 and have SRS at 18. I found
this to be a very touching book. Read
it for free here.
Mark 947. by Calpernia Addams
Calpernia began transition after a strict religious upbringing and a stint
in the Navy. While working as a showgirl, she was thrust into the media spotlight
when her boyfriend was murdered by fellow soldiers. Read
my review here.
From Within. by Vicky
Vicky's account of transition in her teens is both heartbreaking and uplifting.
Read my review here.
O Au No Keia. by Andrew Matzner
An interesting collection of 14 first-hand narratives about life in Hawai'i's
mahu and transgedered commmunities. Read
my review here.
Shelf of shame
The Transsexual Empire, by Janice Raymond
This classic of transphobia compares us to rapists and Nazis, and remains
the shrill voice of the transsexual backlash.
The Man Who Would Be Queen, by J. Michael Bailey
It took 24 years for someone to write a book as dehumanizing as Raymond's,
but Bailey managed to do it.
Unfortunately, public opinion of transgender women has been shaped in large
part by two films, both based on a non-transgender serial killer named Ed
Gein: Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho
and Jonathan Demme'sSilence
of the Lambs. While both movies mention in passing that the killer
is not really transgender, it does little to offset the image of the wig-
or makeup-wearing mentally deranged killer burned into peoples' minds.
Luckily, in the past few years, some more sympathetic portrayals have emerged.
I think all trans women should check out the following films:
Ma Vie En Rose [My Life In Pink] (Belgian, subtitled)
Now out on video, I think it's the most positive movie I've seen on transsexualism.
It puts a human face on it, through the story of a six-year-old child dealing
with gender identity. Sweet and sad and wonderful all at once.
Different for Girls
Possibly the most realistic depiction of what many white-collar trans women
Boys Don't Cry
The harrowing story of a female-to-male named Brandon Teena, whose murder
sparked the community to take political action. Arguably the single most important
film to date in focusing public opinion on the hatred and marginalization
First and foremost, this is a love story. It's the story of my friend Calpernia
Addams' relationship with Barry Winchell, who was murdered by fellow soldiers
for dating her. Read my review here.