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Trans: A Memoir

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  1,048 ratings  ·  110 reviews
Moving memoir and insightful examination of transgender politics

“Six weeks before sex reassignment surgery (SRS), I am obliged to stop taking my hormones. I suddenly feel very differently about my forthcoming operation.”

In July 2012, aged thirty, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery—a process she chronicled with unflinching honesty in a serialised national new
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ebook, 320 pages
Published September 22nd 2015 by Verso
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Average rating 3.91  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,048 ratings  ·  110 reviews


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Zanna
Aug 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: feminism
Excellent memoir of transition and also of the political and economic climate of the UK at the time. In terms of the latter, I felt along with her all the way, remembering how I'd sobbed in the car with my mum over cuts that would summarily destroy what countless brilliant people had so carefully and caringly built, yelled abuse at various politicians on the telly, refused to go into teaching formally and made my own precarious work among other precariously employed young people. None of this ha ...more
Ali George
Jul 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
I picked this up as part of my drive to read books by different female voices. I've read a couple of reviews by people who were disappointed it didn't focus more on Juliet's physical experience, and one or two saying the writing was detached - but I felt she explained exactly why she took that approach. Those very personal confessional narratives about being trapped in the wrong body didn't apply to her, and she's spent a lot of time trying to move discourse away from that narrative, which seems ...more
Willow L
Jul 04, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘Trans’ and ‘memoir’ are, somewhat unfortunately, two words that tend to go together. When it comes to literature it is a genre to which transgender people have long been confined by publishers and a public hungry for sensational narratives of gender-crossing.

But critical work by trans people seeking to challenge some of the overly simplistic narratives which dominate in memoir and elsewhere has been developing since the 1990s. One of the best known and earliest of these critical interventions
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Fiona
Mar 10, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2016, memoir
I liked many things about this book. I learned a lot about transgender theory and I got a real sense of how dispiriting and frightening it is to live with the day-to-day realities of transphobia and fear of violence. I thought the social aspects of transition and the physical aspects of surgery were well handled: just enough detail that you knew what was going on, but never prurient or inviting the reader to dwell on them.
The thing I struggled with a bit was that I felt the sections on Juliet's
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Yaiza Canopoli
Dec 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt-recs
What an absolutely wonderful memoir. Not only was it interesting to follow the author's life - the way we follow it is also incredibly satisfying in its brilliant structure. I am an absolute sucker for memoirs that mix life writing with theory and a wider cultural history. The author does this incredibly well, breaking up her stories of mental health, work, and gender identity with fascinating information about everything from politics to literature. It is also generally a very intertextual memo ...more
Michael Clark
Feb 12, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction, memoir, lgbtq
Trans: A Memoir is an often gripping (and sometimes lagging) memoir, in which Juliet Jacques documents her struggles with gender dysphoria, anxiety and depression, and ruminates on her experiences while undergoing sex realignment surgery. At times Trans seemed to lag or feel too long, but I would still recommend the memoir to those interested in trans issues, gender identity and society’s response to these issues.

There were two reasons I have not given this memoir a higher rating. First, the des
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Giselle A Nguyen
Jul 25, 2016 rated it liked it
A deeply personal insight into the process of gender transition, with plenty of commentary about the cultural climate in Brighton and Manchester in the early 2000s. I particularly liked reading about Jacques' relationship with music and the local scenes, and thought she articulated quite acutely and evocatively how it feels to be dysphoric and what that means for everyday existence as a trans person. I also liked that the theoretical side of things was explained mostly in layman's terms - femini ...more
Alex
May 10, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a very difficult book to review because you can see that Juliet is somewhat limited in how and what she's writing. This is made patently clear in the epilogue, but throughout there's a real lack of...enjoyment, maybe - in her writing. It seems she would rather be writing about art, other people's literature, fiction, academia, anything but her very personal story on transitioning.

That slight despair, or fear of 'selling out' and being individualistic, sometimes makes it hard to really s
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Ksenia
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely loved this and couldn't recommend it more, definitely going to be distractedly reading Juliet's essays over the coming weeks at work. Just found one where she is reviewing Chris Kraus' latest book, nicely combining many interests. If I sound incoherent just trust me on this - go buy this book from Verso books and read it for yourself. ...more
Anna
Jul 16, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read this pretty quickly. Really enjoyed the hints of queer theory and culture throughout.
Alissa
I really wanted to like this. I kept reading far past the point of getting something out of this. But ultimately, I just did not enjoy reading Julia Jacques' memoir. My theory is that she simply didn't want to write a memoir, as she reveals -- she just doesn't think that trans writers should be confined to confessional autobiographical writing. I agree! And ultimately, I think that her writing about trans history, interspersed throughout her memoir, is far stronger.

That said, the writing in and
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Jenni
Jul 03, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: empathy-project
Part of me feels it's unfair to review memoirs with star ratings: memoirs are someone's life experience, so who am I to say "meh, not enough social porn for me to salivate over - 2 stars"? Also, many memoirs are written by folk who may not be writers, and it shows, but the subject matter they need to get out of their system is worth 5 stars to learn about!
This all is to say that my 3 stars is a noncommittal urging: reading about the ups and downs of a person going through sex reassignment surger
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Anna
Nov 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
"What if we’re not trapped in the wrong body but trapped in the wrong society?"

Part autobiography, part Trans theory, I feel that the combination worked well. The beginning of the book was hard for me to get into as after the first chapter I felt very disoriented. It took me awhile to realize Juliet lives in Great Britain and to translate the slang and cultural references. Also it was hard to pinpoint characters as they seemed to crop up and disappear disjointedly.

The book really picks up and h
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Katbyrdie
Stunning memoir of being a trans-woman and transitioning after college. Jacques writes from the heart, but ties in numerous educational points. I found myself looking up every movie, band, and book she mentioned, determined to view them after I finished her book. One of the best things that Jacques adds to her memoir that separates it from others is the parallel trans history sections at the end of certain chapters. They correlate her story with the history of the movement so that any person cou ...more
Heather
Nov 08, 2016 rated it liked it
In July 2012, aged thirty, Juliet Jacques underwent sex reassignment surgery—a process she chronicled with unflinching honesty in a serialised national newspaper column. Trans tells of her life to the present moment: a story of growing up, of defining yourself, and of the rapidly changing world of gender politics.

I saw Juliet at the Edinburgh Book Festival and found her discussion about the book really interesting - that she wanted to tell her own story but also offer a jumping off point in term
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Tiana
May 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-books
So many books about trans individuals are a) written by cis people, b) focus on transition as the only viable storyline in a trans person's life, or both a & b.

Juliet is a fantastic writer. This book felt like a conversation with an intimate friend - colloquial, friendly, and inclusive of life beyond the scope of transition. In the epilogue, she expresses that she didn't want the entire arc of her book to be surgery - she has succeeded magnificently at this.

This should be on everyone's to-read
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Rachel León
Jan 29, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lgbtqia
A well written memoir. At first I questioned the author's decision to start with her sex reassignment surgery and then move back in time to the journey that led there, but after I got further in, I didn't much care how the story was told; all that mattered was that it was. A brave, honest book. ...more
Rory Green
Jun 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Really interesting mix of personal experience and trans cultural history. The sense of setting was strong and the interview at the end was a great way to finish.
Keliani
Disclaimer, there could be several details listed here that could count as spoilers.

This was such a good read, I didn't want the book to end. But like all memoirs of people who are alive and well, history is still being written. And memoirs have become a common medium for trans people to convey not only their life story, but their beliefs, what they fight for and their hopes for the future (see Redefining Realness, Daring to Be Myself -by Janet Mock and Laverne Cox respectively, just to mention
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Caleb
i'll just vomit some words//phrases about the book to start:
>restrained--if hemingway is your shitty bigoted great-uncle, Jacques is your wonderful trans cousin
>realistic about what a human life is//isn't
>honest--feels much less aestheticized//mythologized than most memoirs. Jaques relates the conundrums and uncertainties of discovering her gender identity and transitioning, seemingly without dramatizing them in the slightest.
>merges politics and aesthetics in interesting ways, discussing cultur
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Lucy
Jul 06, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I initially found this book a bit of a trudge, but I kept going, and I'm glad I did. The narrative, particularly in the first half, lingers on the mundane details of everyday life a little too much for me. But I understand the intention behind this, to offer a representation of a life that is ordinary in so many ways, as lives of trans people are so often sensationalised, weaponised, and even their right to exist called into question.

It is no real surprise that it is at the point in the book wh
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Rosie
Jul 05, 2018 rated it liked it
I liked this memoir chronicling a transwoman's journey into her decision to have gender reassignment surgery, coming to better understand her own gender identity, and also discussing transgender-related literature and films. The author does a nice job mixing the personal along with discussing literature related to transgender people and how it has changed through the times. She also frequently discusses the transphobic feminist authors--reminding us that not all feminists are created equal.
I lik
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Daniel
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
An excellent book. I was interested in the degree to which it strains against its form - a memoir - and the honesty that Jacques approaches the writing process with. The limitations of writing autobiographically are presented clearly, but ultimately Jacques decided that these didn't override the necessity of writing such a book - not least because it is the sort of book which many people need to be able to read. Nevertheless, the justified cynicism about the form ultimately makes for a much more ...more
l.
I have a number of thoughts on this book. Firstly, I like Juliet Jacques. People have made the criticism that this book is more about her than about 'transition'; the stupidity of that criticism aside, I think she's smart and funny and tbh, can relate to her as someone who also liked Morrissey well past the age that someone should be liking Morrissey. Also more seriously, I like her as someone else who tried to make sense of their reality through obsessively reading/watching films/docos etc beca ...more
Danni Green
Apr 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: genderawesome, tft
A powerful narrative which interweaves personal memoir with incisive commentary on the representation of trans people in entertainment and journalistic media, as well as the political and medical implications of being trans in the UK specifically.

cw: references to media representations of transantagonist violence, suicidal ideation, coping with someone else's completed suicide, street harassment, graphic descriptions of genital surgery
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Francine Maessen
Actually 3,5 stars. I enjoyed the theoretical parts between the more personal fragments and the huge amount of movies and other forms of art that are mentioned. Jacques provided me with a lot of inspiration for further reading (and viewing).
Alison
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Brill stuff
Michaela
Nov 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english
Cried through the whole thing. It's a must-read. Thank you, Juliet. ...more
PATRICK
Jan 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A delight to read.
Meghan Betts
Feb 23, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: feminism
I wanted to like this more than I did. I think the main thing that put me off this book was that there was a lot of 'filler' that I simply had no interest in, namely music and football. I found myself skimming over large sections of text that were simply boring to me. That being said, I found Juliet's explanations of her journey interesting and I did learn a lot about gender dysphoria and being transgender and/or transsexual. ...more
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Juliet Jacques (born Redhill, Surrey in 1981) is a British journalist, critic and writer of short fiction, known for her work on the transgender experience, including her transition as a trans woman.

She grew up in Horley, and attended Reigate Grammar School for two years before her parents moved her to a local comprehensive school, followed by the College of Richard Collyer in Horsham, West Sussex
...more

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