Surviving Transphobia is not the sort of book I usually read. I probably wouldn’t have picked it up at all had it not been for my friend, who is coming to terms with the transitioning of her youngest child. I realised that I knew very little about the trans world (especially not in the US), and hoped to learn more.

Surviving Transphobia

Laura A. Jacobs (editor)

surviving transphobia

The transgender and gender nonbinary community is forever under siege. Institutional transphobia is enacted by those who would return us to the shadows, the closets, or worse.

Surviving Transphobia is an anthology by transgender and gender nonbinary celebrities and experts on endurance during times of severe hostility. We share the moments when we were vulnerable, were bullied, had needs dismissed, or were discriminated against, revealing our determination and how we have (sometimes) managed to thrive. We offer loving support as you brave agony and seek joy. We also speak to our allies.

We are activists, actors, athletes, authors, lawyers, doctors, nurses, therapists, sex workers, clergy, diplomats, and military veterans. We are of many ethnicities. We vary socioeconomically, educationally, and geographically. Some are neurodivergent. Several are disabled or have chronic illnesses. A few are HIV+. A small number were born elsewhere.

We have survived, here’s how. And if we can survive… so can you. [goodreads]

My Review

I am a woman, and a while ago I realised I had been discriminated against, in a small way, all my life. But I am also white, born in the UK, which used to be part of Europe, where most of the more liberal views of attitudes towards the nonbinary nature of gender have been accepted for years. If not written into law–well not always. I have been extremely lucky to hit the sweet spot of liberal policies at the best time of my life.

Not so the next generation. As you know, the shift from liberal policies under the Obama presidency was well and truly stomped on by Trump, and instead of a five year adjustment (like Brexit) it happened overnight. If I have been upset by the shift to right-wing policies in the UK, it is absolutely nothing to the reversal of freedoms suffered by many people in the USA. This is their story.

Enough of me

Laura Jacobs, herself a transgender person, approached a wide range of people she had worked with, or networked with, or were recommended by others, to put this book together. Each person tells their own, very personal, experiences of being transgender.

I could not read more than two of these accounts in any one sitting. They are so raw, so well documented, so human. Some of them are extraordinarily beautifully written. It was an emotional roller coaster.

I don’t understand why people hate so much. I don’t understand why people hate perfectly nice people who just happen to have (or choose) a different look, or different lifestyle. The refugee from Argentina’s dictatorship who found America so abominably different from the haven and luxury she expected — that I understand.

But whether I understand or not, that is the reality of the current USA, and a warning to the rest of us. Right-wing policies are growing, across the globe.

If you, like me, have very little knowledge of the LGBTQ++ world, this will open your eyes. One or two of them will explain in horrible detail some things that you may find useful if you are an author, but are otherwise, well, extreme. It will also show you that these transgender people are, above all, people. They have hopes, dreams, aspirations just like mine. Most of the people in the world want much the same thing. It’s how we get manipulated by those who want control.

I want to thank Laura Jacobs and all those brave enough to stand up and tell their stories, and to come forward to fight for the rights of others. This is an important book. It will hopefully help many trans people stuck in an isolated situation, to know they are not alone. But nobody who hates will read it.

Book Review | Surviving Transphobia
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5 thoughts on “Book Review | Surviving Transphobia

  • 23 September, 2023 at 10:28 am

    What a very thoughtful review, Jemima. Transphobia is well and truly alive here too – I am shocked by the things I read. Glasgow Women’s Library is completely trans-inclusive and sometimes takes some terrible stick on social media for it. I once had a tiny taste of it myself (I’m a foreskin feminist apparently). Trans people are being accused of all the same things gay people used to be – perverts, groomers, paeodophiles etc – which hasn’t disappeared but seems to be less common for gay people, to me anyway, but obviously I wouldn’t know for sure. I’ve checked GWL’s catalogue and we don’t have this book so I’ll be recommending it for stock. Thanks for that!

  • 25 September, 2023 at 2:30 am

    Oldest child ;). Books like this are really helpful for those of us who want to be allies, but as you note, won’t help the haters because they won’t read it.

  • 25 September, 2023 at 2:33 am

    Also as a note, apparently the incidence of gender dysphoria in people on the autism spectrum is much higher than among the neurotypical population. For whatever that’s worth.

  • 28 September, 2023 at 12:39 pm

    The nature of hatred,bullying, treating anybody with contempt, for any non-reason, including gender ?
    Not a paper I read, but in Monday’s report of a Scottish 8 year old too scared to return to school was chilling.

  • 3 October, 2023 at 8:00 pm

    I’m closing comments on this as it’s generated a massive amount of spam, even if Akismet has caught it all.

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