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Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community

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There is no one way to be transgender. Transgender and gender non-conforming people have many different ways of understanding their gender identities. Only recently have sex and gender been thought of as separate concepts, and we have learned that sex (traditionally thought of as physical or biological) is as variable as gender (traditionally thought of as social).

While trans people share many common experiences, there is immense diversity within trans communities. There are an estimated 700,000 transgendered individuals in the US and 15 million worldwide. Even still, there's been a notable lack of organized information for this sizable group.

Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is a revolutionary resource-a comprehensive, reader-friendly guide for transgender people, with each chapter written by transgender or genderqueer authors. Inspired by Our Bodies, Ourselves, the classic and powerful compendium written for and by women, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves is widely accessible to the transgender population, providing authoritative information in an inclusive and respectful way and representing the collective knowledge base of dozens of influential experts. Each chapter takes the reader through an important transgender issue, such as race, religion, employment, medical and surgical transition, mental health topics, relationships, sexuality, parenthood, arts and culture, and many more.

Anonymous quotes and testimonials from transgender people who have been surveyed about their experiences are woven throughout, adding compelling, personal voices to every page. In this unique way, hundreds of viewpoints from throughout the community have united to create this strong and pioneering book. It is a welcoming place for transgender and gender-questioning people, their partners and families, students, professors, guidance counselors, and others to look for up-to-date information on transgender life.

672 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2014

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About the author

Laura Erickson-Schroth

6 books12 followers

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5 stars
253 (63%)
4 stars
113 (28%)
3 stars
26 (6%)
2 stars
3 (<1%)
1 star
3 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 43 reviews
Profile Image for nat.
230 reviews15 followers
August 22, 2017
Over the past several years I've been reading different parts of it in excerpts, in libraries, when reading from a friend's bookshelf, etc.

I am a trans, genderqueer person who has dealt with a lot of stuff. I have been homeless thrice, in and out of psychiatric hospital visits and have dealt with all sorts of abuses.
I have lived through corrective rape from an abusive relationship, attempted murder via a parent, being told by medical staff my gender is a delusion/"attention-seeking behaviour" and forced to leave hospital premises by security because my pleading for psychiatric help was "threatening" - just all sorts of horrific things.

I am 22 years old and have been without parental contact since I was 19, having come out at 16 and left home at 17. I've been on and off hormones for a bit and just kind of forging my own path medically.

I am not alone in the things. In the community that I have built of chosen family, I am to the impression that my experiences are pretty mainstream as far as things go for trans young adults.

(At least ones who came out as nonbinary when I did in 2011, and the ones who aren't privileged enough for college. Things have changed a lot since then and not only do I not have to explain myself to my own trans community very much anymore, or to my own LGBT+ community, but cis hetero folks are catching up. Usually to make helicopter jokes but I digress.)

I want to review this with that context in hopes that it will help to communicate the gravity of how much this book's existence has meant to me. It is an essential weapon against the ignorance that threatens my life nearly every day.
Having this resource and all in it adds recognition what I go through and makes it real. It helps me, and it helps me help my friends. It fills a huge void for guidance that our community far too often is left without. It answers medical questions I didn't have to bite the embarassing TMI bullet to ask my friends on Facebook who have gone through the same. (Privacy is a privilege and this book gives better access to that.) Doctors seldom know any of this information at all.

The fact is, doctors, nurses, social workers, therapists, etc don't know any of this information the vast majority of the time.

But it is a matter of life or death for us that they do.

The book itself is pretty much a textbook. It should be required reading for everyone that has an affect on our lives as trans people whether they concern themselves with it or not.

This book makes a difference. I could not afford it but recently I got it thirdhand from a friend of mine, traded for soy milk and a box of froot loops. I am so grateful to finally own it. I keep it in my living room where I live with three other trans people as roommates.

I hope one day enough med students and therapists and nurses have read this so that no trans person will have to go through the weird glares and intrusive questions and sexual harassment (literally all things that happen on regular hospital visits just when we list medications) that me and my friends have gone through again.
243 reviews
March 2, 2016
I actually only made it to page 174 before I realized I was not going to keep reading this behemoth. Not that this isn't a very, very good book -- it's just huge! It's literally a textbook of issues that can possibly affect transgender people, and it takes commitment to read it. I should have heeded the advice in the introduction to just skip around instead of trying to read straight through and getting burned out.

That being said, I really enjoyed reading it. I thought the section on social transition was really informative and hammered home the idea that transitioning is not just a physical or surgical event. However, my favorite sections were probably the race and immigration ones. I just learned so much.

I'm looking forward to picking up this book again. There's still so much to read and learn, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the transgender community but isn't quite sure where to start.
Profile Image for David.
559 reviews131 followers
March 20, 2023
Very professional and complete resource here. I have only skimmed this impressive book. This second edition surely benefits from input readers gave on the first edition (that began 2009, and published 2014). Everyone writing laws/policies on Trans topics MUST own this book. The science is extremely well researched, with biblio/reference links after every chapter.

A powerful feature is all the personal experience pieces. They appear at the turn of every page and focus on the subtopic within the chapter.

Here are some great tables samples:
p11: 101 Trans Identity Words
p14: Gender Neutral Pronouns (Subjective; Objective; Possessive; Reflexive)
p32: Poets and Artists in TPOC Communities
p50: TPOC-Centered/Led Organizations
p66: Community-Based Resources for Trans Immigrants

The >200 pages of 8.5"x11" is a mandatory resource for anyone wanting/needing to understand the many aspects surrounding being Trans.

Section 1: Who We Are
. 1: Our Selves
. 2: Race, Ethnicity, and Culture
. 3: Immigration
. 4: Disability
. 5: Religion and Spirituality
. 6: Sex and Gender Development

Section 2: Living as Ourselves
. 7: Coming Out
. 8: Social Transition
. 9: Work and Employment
. 10: Legal Issues

Section 3: Health and Wellness
. 11: General, Sexual, and Reproductive Health
. 12: Medical Transition
. 13: Surgical Transition
. 14: Mental Health and Emotional Wellness

Section 4: Relationships and Families
. 15: Intimate Relationships
. 16: Sexuality
. 17: Parenting

Section 5: Life Stages
. 18: Children
. 19: Youth
. 20 Aging

Section 6: Claiming Our Power
. 21 U.S. History
. 22: Arts and Culture
. 23: Activism, Politics, and Organizing
Profile Image for Ari.
680 reviews17 followers
November 20, 2016
5-Stars, incredibly informative. It's worth taking the weeks that it took to read it (640-something pages of writing, not including the resources in the back). If you're looking for...history, pop-culture (film, plays, art, music, much more), medical and social service resources, information on finding trans* and GNC comrades in 12-step programs, on the internet, or in your religious community, this is a place to start. It's a resource I'd recommend for spiritual and social workers, for allies, and for literally just about anyone. This is an excellent mix of technical/academic gender studies writing and personal stories (some anonymous, some not). My guess is that there may be a revision within the next few years (as soon as it was published, a few things were already outdated), and my hope is that there will be more mention of liberal Jewish community work in the next version.
Profile Image for D. .
12 reviews2 followers
July 10, 2018
This book is wonderful especially when it comes to educating folks about gender identity. It is a genuine look on the intersectionality within trans support and trans issues. I recommend this book to anyone who is exploring their own gender identity and/or wants to have a better understanding of the gender minority community.
Profile Image for Darcie.
23 reviews2 followers
July 1, 2017
Helpful resource for information and language to support and accompany my young adult trans child. Offers an array of experiences and data.
Profile Image for Wes (Lux).
55 reviews1 follower
August 27, 2021
In 1970, a group of women came together in conversation about women's health and sexuality. The result of these discussions was "Our Bodies, Ourselves", a landmark work with a simple goal: to explore and explain health and wellness for women from the vantage of women. Many decades later, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves takes up the torch with the equally noble goal of educating on the transgender experience from the perspective of transgender and genderqueer people. I chose to read this book for a few important reasons, notably that I as an LGBT person understand very little about the history and experience of trans and genderqueer people, but it's also a work that helps me be a better healthcare provider at the bedside, and hopefully one day, a better-informed, more deliberately inclusive leader. I learned a lot from reading this, and if you have the questions I have about this vibrant but often misunderstood community, I can't recommend it enough!
Profile Image for AdamTheSoyBoy.
29 reviews3 followers
May 7, 2019
(I technically did not finish this book but this isn't the type of book you "finish," more on that later).

The best thing about this book is that it's THOROUGH.

Do you want to know how to come out to your parents? Your kids? Your job? Want to know about every surgery available to you? Here it is, all in one book.

Due to the fact that is spans across age, sexuality, and identity, this isn't one of those cover-to-cover reads (doing so might make you smarter but won't help much). I'm saying that I read it because I read enough of it to have an opinion, but if there's any book that you should buy instead of rent like I originally did, this is one of them.

Might not be the first book you should give to someone/read yourself if you don't know a lot about trans issues, but a great resource to have once you have your foot in the door. Highly recommend, and hope to soon buy for myself.
105 reviews
December 2, 2014
Well, reading this book has certainly been quite an enlightening journey. It's not really a cover-to-cover read, but a reference book, and one that's got plenty of invaluable information organized by topic and does its very best not to be judgmental. I think the overwhelming focus on genders that align to the masculine/feminine spectrum/paradigm, and especially the lack of discussion of gender binarism, is unfortunate, but hopefully that's something that could be rectified in later editions (which I do hope to see!).
899 reviews27 followers
February 18, 2016
This is an excellent and very important book. I did read it cover-to-cover, though that isn't necessary. It contains a lot of really useful, affirming information. I particularly appreciated the quotes and stories that gave voice to the experiences of individuals from a wide range of experiences. I had really wanted to read this book so that I would know whether it was worth recommending to others, and it definitely is; this is a high quality, well written, well researched reference written by and for transgender people, and I'm really glad that it exists in the world.
Profile Image for Julie.
1,909 reviews38 followers
May 7, 2015
As the parent of a female to male transgendered son I am eager to learn more about the process of transitioning, and how people cope day to day as they seek to live their lives in the gender they truly identify with. This book is a wonderful resource. The issues transgendered individuals face are multi-layered, and complex. It's great to have a resource such as this to turn to.
Profile Image for Quinn.
12 reviews
December 18, 2016
I've been reading a lot of informational books about the transgender identity and so far this has been the least condescending and... well, weird, of any of them.

This book is huge, like a text book, but I thought there were some really useful sections and I liked how the thoughts and opinions of many different trans people were woven into the informational text to provide bits of personal narrative on whatever subject was being discussed.

Overall I would say there was one or two places where I cringed a little (mostly about things like claims regarding testosterone "never" triggering mania in individuals which is directly contradicted in the WPATH Standards of Care) but they were much fewer than the other books I've encountered so far. Super thorough, worth checking out!
Profile Image for Grace Mead.
Author 1 book25 followers
September 24, 2014
This leads with overwrought and complicated theoretical discussions of gender and gender identity and terminology, when some fundamental notions of human decency and respect for persons and their choices could do most of the heavy lifting instead. Despite that, it goes on to provide a comprehensive survey of much of the literature surrounding the most important issues faced by transgendered people. It also reflects a wonderful balance among the perspectives of sensitive caregivers in the medical profession, transgendered individuals, and their professional advocates. A must-read for anyone interested in the issues faced by transgendered persons.
Profile Image for Lucia Bradley.
Author 1 book3 followers
January 12, 2020
I feel I can give fair feedback on this, since I am a transgender woman. I want to say this is absolutely a good resource, if a little dated. It is more of a textbook and not something most people will read from cover to cover. Instead it is good to go back to the specific sections and read those sections.

If you are newly out as transgender, or if you want a little bit of insight, I highly recommend this book. Just understand that the society/cultural/historical changes in the transgender community are moving at an incredibly fast clip, and that not everything here is up to date.

It is a good read for those wanting to understand though, I encourage you to get it.
Profile Image for Jocilyn.
173 reviews6 followers
July 1, 2016
A terrific resource. Easily the best expose we have to date... but it could definitely be better. Basically it's 100% too dense (think graduate social work text) with lackluster structure to be a good reference book and is constantly bogged down by anecdotal asides, many of which are really only useful if you're cisgendered. For a second edition please consider beefing up the HRT and surgery sections. In my experience people always have questions and concerns about those which seem to be glossed over here as merely one aspect of Trans life.
Profile Image for Brandon.
35 reviews1 follower
July 12, 2015
Very very very detailed book. It would make an excellent multicultural counseling textbook based upon all the information each chapter is detailed, with the added emphasis that it details how things intersect with the diverse trans population. It discusses racial, age, disabilities, politics, various cultures, lifespan stuff and the media plus more.

I have several friends and acquaintances who contributed to this volume. I thank them for their dedication to this masterpiece.
Profile Image for Gayle Pitman.
Author 10 books59 followers
September 11, 2014
This is an extremely comprehensive resource, covering a wide landscape of issues. Articles bring out a broad spectrum of diverse voices, all of which illuminate the complexity and diversity of trans experiences. If I had bought this book sooner, I would have made it a required textbook for one of my classes. I will absolutely use it as a text in the future.
Profile Image for Katelyn.
7 reviews3 followers
August 1, 2018
This would make an excellent resource for any social worker, as well as for the transgender community! Extremely straightforward and comprehensive and includes references to outside resources for learning more. Trans voices provide much of the information and commentary and the book as a whole is respectful of a broad spectrum of privilege, oppression, and difference even within the community.
Profile Image for Joanna Darrell.
57 reviews2 followers
January 21, 2015
I personally found this an excellent book which covers the subject of transgenderism really well. A little heavy going in a few places, but well worth sticking with. if you’re looking for a good general guide which you can use as a base for delving into more depth with a few key additions.
556 reviews8 followers
February 20, 2017
Honestly, I only skimmed this book: it was too long and too much of it was introductory material for me to read cover-to-cover. But it seemed like a really good desk reference of information both for trans people and for people they are trying to explain themselves to.
3 reviews
February 2, 2019
This has to be one of the most in depth books about trans people and all the issues we face. As other people have mentioned it's more of a textbook than a fun read but it's very informative and insightful with lots of good suggestions and references for where to learn more.
Profile Image for Vegan Viajo.
54 reviews7 followers
December 7, 2016
Fabulous book for resources if you're in BH or medical field and a new level of understanding for Cisgender people wanting to support friends families or loved ones who are transitioning !
Profile Image for Summer.
9 reviews1 follower
January 3, 2018
Great resources and information for transfolx and allies.
Profile Image for Christina Cathcart.
44 reviews1 follower
May 31, 2018
A mind-boggling wealth of information, written textbook style. Perfect for someone exploring their gender for the first time.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 43 reviews

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