4 Nonfiction Books About Being a Trans Woman – #OwnVoices Guest Post

Hey all. I am the mysterious Sir Besty and today I wanted to share five books that I’ve read during my journey of transitioning that have helped me to better understand myself as a Trans woman and also understand what to expect during the process.

As someone who recently started her transition, I am glad that I was able to find stories written by individuals who have already gone through the transition experience. It can be very hard to figure out all the stuff that goes along with accepting your gender and then doing whatever you can to feel validated and represented as yourself. This can be an overwhelming experience as it is and when you don’t know anyone to help you through the change that you relate to, it can be isolating and feel lonely.

Luckily for me, I have my platonic partner, another great friend, and the support of my sister to help me and be here for me along this scary path. While learning by yourself is frightening, having people to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you with that learning journey makes it more bearable.

The five books that I want to share with you were also extremely important in helping me stay grounded and understand that I’m definitely not alone with my experiences as a Transgender human being, and that even if it seems impossible at times, it’s really not. Will it be challenging? Hell yes. But not something I can’t achieve. My goal with presenting these novels to you is to provide a resource for anyone who is interested in understanding what it means to be a Trans human being, especially if you’re in the process of accepting and understanding your own gender and are Trans yourself (starting or fully transitioned), and even more so if you’re an ally who is seeking to help your Trans loved ones in the best and most respectable capacities possible.

Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill

Rethinking Normal takes us through the life of Katie Rain Hill, the first Trans person to graduate high school in Oklahoma. It starts with her young years and goes through her years of knowing she was different and the severe depression that it caused her, and then finally to being able to start her transition. Katie goes into detail about the abuse she faced in high school, from both students and teachers. Her first (second and third) lovers and the pains and joys of life growing up Trans. The sections talking about falling in and out of love are a bit too adolescent for older readers, but I found that this is an exceptional nonfiction book for any young Trans individuals, or for parents/siblings/friends of young Trans people.

Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock

In Redefining Realness, Janet Mock takes on a very honest and sometimes painful story of her life growing up. Janet is half-black and half-Hawaiian and she spent her younger years with her father and brother in Oakland, California. She always knew that she was different than her father and brother but was afraid to how they would react (this fear was then confirmed when she was caught acting like a girl at her cousin’s home, where her dad acted very negatively). It wasn’t until she moved back to Hawaii with her mother that Janet could fully embrace her identity and start her transition process. One of the things I loved about this memoir is how open Janet is about the plight of POC (people of colour) Trans individuals, and how they have even fewer resources to get them the help they need. This is not an easy book to read, especially not for younger readers, but it is one of the most important books out there for Trans people and allies, as it wonderfully outlines what is means to be Transgender.

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

Jennifer Boylan’s book is about her life, specifically hiding who she was not only from everyone else but including herself. Eventually she finds acceptance within herself and looks towards transitioning. It’s both humorous and heart-warming as it details her young life and her unwillingness to accept her identity. Eventually she couldn’t fight it anymore and, this caused many struggles with coming out with her wife and children. I believe this is an important book because it’s so different from the other novels and sheds a very positive light on Trans people. It also helps readers to understand that accepting yourself at an early age will prevent decades of depression, while being a resource to others who may be struggling in similar ways; plus it discusses genital reconstruction surgery. With that said, it does come off as slightly privileged in some instances as she’s white and upper-middle class, and that’s something to keep in mind while reading.

Tranny: Confessions of Punk Rock’s Most Infamous Anarchist Sell-out by Laura Jane Grace

In Tranny, the author shares her story of how she went from being Tom Gabel to Laura Jane Grace. She’s very candid about her difficulties of finding acceptance within herself and the fear that came with coming out. Being the lead singer of Against Me!, a popular punk rock band, just heightened her desire to hide everything. The fear of rejection from her fellow band-mates and the public eye was extremely stressful for her. She also talks about the challenges of living in Florida while trying to transition into her gender as there were far less sympathetic psychiatrists willing to help her and a significant lack of support in general. But Laura’s story isn’t all black and grey, as there’s a wonderful amount of hope in it. Her band and her fans supported her when she finally did come out, and they are still making music today! I recommend this for fellow punk fans and for people who are seeking to find kinship with the pressures of hiding your identity and the mental health ramifications it can cause.

Dreadnought (Nemesis #1) by April Daniels

Dreadnought is the only fiction book on this list and because of that it’s more of an honorary mention. It is a young adult novel about a 15-year-old trans woman named Danny Tozer who is terrified of coming out to her parents. She knows that her dad would reject her outright. But then a chance encounter grants Danny the powers of Dreadnaught, one of the world’s most powerful superheroes, and one whose source of power literally transforms the wielder into whatever their heart desires the most. Upon accepting the power, Danny transforms into the girl she’s always wanted to be. I recommend this to Trans people who are interested in reading a story where they are portrayed as a superhero, someone who helps other people and is shown as being a strong individual. It was a lot of fun to read and I believe it handled the sensitive subject matter with great care, especially for young adult audiences.

I hope that at least one of these books can help someone out there who is going through the transition process, or for people who are seeking to be allies. Remember that you’re not alone. Whether you are in a super accepting family and town, or if you can’t come out because of the fear and stigma of what may happen when you do, there are others out there who understand and empathise and one-hundred-percent believe in you. There’s a community that will support you and guide you. I encourage you to look up resources in your area or even online in order to find those individuals. You can do this.

Thank you for visiting my post today.  – Sir Besty a.k.a. Gabby.

4 thoughts on “4 Nonfiction Books About Being a Trans Woman – #OwnVoices Guest Post

  1. Thank you for sharing these. I’ve requested several (all they had) from my two libraries. 😀 As a supporter, I want to know what to do, what to say, to help people I love through a difficult experience.

  2. Thank-you for sharing your thoughts on these books! Rethinking Normal is a new one for me. It’s great to read about books that were so helpful to someone going through a similar experience.

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