Yearly LGBTQ Book Review, Part 1

Since it’s the New Year, people like to cop out of writing real blog posts by compiling a list. And I’m no different than the general population, except for the fact that I hardly cop out of writing a post because it ends up being something with substance anyway.

So, here’s a list of the books I read last year (or as best I can remember), obviously with substantial commentary.

(All titles link to Amazon, so you can peruse summaries and reviews at your leisure. I don’t make any money from the links, I’m just nice like that.)

Transgender Non-Fiction

Just Add Hormones, by Matt Kailey

I liked it. You guessed it. It has a review!

Butch is a Noun and The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You, by S. Bear Bergman

They sounded like great books. I really wanted to like them (I even bought the second one, in case the first time I was wrong). But S. Bear Bergman’s writing just did not sit well with me; so much so that I could not, no matter how hard I tried, finish either book. They are written as a series of short essays on hir’s life, first as a Butch, then as a – let’s call it genderqueer FTM – because I’m not sure how ze labels hirself now, but it’s a good approximation to give you an idea.

I honestly don’t like to disparage books without giving a good reason. Alas, all I can say is they were boring, predictable, not all that funny, and rather rife with transgender and other queer terminology yet lacking any substance. At least for me. Maybe you will find them more meaningful. (I really want to give the books a chance!)

The Transgender Child, by Stephanie Brill and Rachel Pepper

Somehow I thought this was in my Resources section, so I’ve added it now. This and the book below – Gender Born, Gender Made – should definitely should be the first book any transgender-aware parent, educator, or health provider reads. Containing both information and comprehensive strategies to accommodate transgender children on their journey, it covers ample ground with straightforward, straight up information.

Gender Born, Gender Made, by Diane Ehrensaft

Though not related, to me this book was sort of a continuation of The Transgender Child. It builds upon the most recent knowledge of transgender, genderfluid, gender non-conforming, and generally playful children, and how we should approach their issues when still living in a sometimes unwelcoming world. Though it is clearly aimed towards mental health, medical, and social service providers, it covers a lot of ground. This book, and the book above, should be on every transgender-themed bookshelf.

Non-LGBTQ Themed

Passing, by Nella Larsen

I explained in a previous post what inspired me to read this book.

Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Aspergers, by John Elder Robison

While not queer-themed, this is written by the brother of Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors, which is queer-themed. Two degrees of queer separation! Despite the connection, this book (and the author) can stand on its own, as it’s filled with an unbelievable mix of adventures detailing John Elder’s life, all of which are true.

Moreover, I’ve been interested in reading about Aspergers because a lot of people in the Asexual community (and the same has been said of FTMs), are non-neurotypical Aspies. I took that as a good opportunity to learn about something I knew nothing about, because learning is what it’s all about.

Sybil, by Flora Rheta Schriber

This was the second time I read this book, the first being when I was in high school (dare I say, ten years ago). Needless to say I’ve learned enough about life, Freud, and the ridiculousness of 1960’s psychoanalytic school of thought, to both laugh at and be enraged by the anti-feminist-oedipal-penis-envy-primal-scene nonsense sprinkled generously throughout the pages. The debate of whether it’s a hoax notwithstanding, the story of Sybil, a woman with 16 split personalities, is itself an entertaining, engaging, and thought-provoking – quite the learning experience. Did I mention I was a psychology major in college?


This list might not look like much, but that’s because you haven’t seen Part 2 (and possibly Part 3). Don’t worry, I already wrote it all, so there’s no chance of empty promises. And I promise you, it’s looooong.

5 thoughts on “Yearly LGBTQ Book Review, Part 1

  1. I’m still not done with “Gender Born, Gender Made,” and I too agree that it’s a great resource. The only problem I have with it thus far is that it seems very much geared towards parents (so not too helpful to transpeople or older transpeople, especially), and also that she doesn’t provide anything to back up her claims other than anecdotes and personal experiences with clients. But that last part could just be me as a psychology major being overly critical and nitpicky. Thanks for the reviews, I’ll have to look up some of these other books now!

    1. The thing is, there isn’t anything to back up her claims other than anecdotal evidence. There are barely any formal research studies done about transgender adults, let alone children – a subject which is still taboo, even in evolved academic circles. (Or, the studies out there are deeply flawed and outdated.) And in a way, it is helpful to adult transgender people, because it validates a lot of how we’ve felt throughout our lives, and it paves the way for future gender variant adults and children alike.

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