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Back-to-School Transgender Books

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It’s that time of year again—some of us are heading back to college, and some of us are getting our siblings or kids stocked up on books and sharpened pencils. I always love September because it inspires me to start over or start something new.

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Since you’re dating or thinking about dating trans women, perhaps this fall is a great time to brush up on your trans literature! It’s a field on the verge of exploding exponentially, but there are classics, too. Trans lit covers stories about being trans, as well as stories that feature transgender characters.

These books will give you a deeper understanding of trans people and the issues they face, as well as showing a range of ideas and experiences. There are hundreds of options, but here’s a good place to begin.

Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics
(Nightboat Books, edited by TC Tolbert and Tim Trace Peterson, 2013)

Too often, trans poetry feels like an afterthought hastily added to a gay-themed anthology, or lumped into a women’s studies publication. But trans culture, experience, and concerns are very different from both of these and deserve a place in the mainstream literary platform as well as a place of their own. This collection is a great start for more than fifty transgender poets.

The Collection: Short Fiction from the Transgender Vanguard
(Topside Press, Tom Leger et al., 2012)

An outstanding anthology of short fiction featuring transgender narratives. Twenty-eight authors. You can pick and choose, or read cover to cover—there’s a lot of food for thought here.

Trans-Sister Radio
Chris Bohjalian, 2001

With this book, bestselling writer Bohjalian eerily predicted today’s culture wars in the news, over bathrooms and human rights for transgender people. But this classic is not about politics, it’s a love story. Middle-aged Allison falls head over heels in love with a man who just happens to be on the verge of revealing herself as trans.

Both women question the importance of gender and biology to their identity and humanity. While we have many more complex fiction works today that go beyond the coming-out story, this was for its time a groundbreaking work and the depth of its emotion is unparalleled.

Conundrum by Jan Morris
(New York Review Books Classics, 2006, first published 1974)

This pioneering memoir is essential to every library, not just trans people or their admirers. Morris was a respected historian and travel writer who had a wife and five children and served in the British Army. In 1972, she travelled to Morocco for one of the first publicized sexual reassignment surgeries, and this is her story about that journey from male to female.

Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica
(Cleis Press, edited by Tristan Taormino, 2011)

You didn’t think I was going to skimp on the good stuff, did you? There are lots of websites and books that feature transgender erotica. Some are trite, some are exploitative, some are hot. But if you like yours served up in a more literary fashion, getting to know these writers is a great way to expand your horizons. These stories range from bondage to long-term love, but they’re steamy, explicit, and hold nothing back!

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