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Trans Britain: Our Journey from the Shadows

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  168 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Over the last five years, transgender people have seemed to burst into the public eye: Time declared 2014 a ‘trans tipping point’, while American Vogue named 2015 ‘the year of trans visibility’. From our television screens to the ballot box, transgender people have suddenly become part of the zeitgeist.

This apparently overnight emergence, though, is just the latest stage i
Hardcover, 372 pages
Published January 25th 2018 by Unbound (first published 2018)
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K.J. Charles
A collection of essays about British trans history/current affairs (including, latterly, nonbinary people), covering the situation as it was lived in the 30s on, media exposure and treatment, medical treatment, going in depth into the way the laws and attitudes have altered and the fight for legal/political change. Most of the pieces are by activists (mostly trans or nb, some allies).

It's a very necessary book, in that what first becomes obvious is there's barely any trans history to tell becau
Lizzie Huxley-Jones
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Trans Britain is a very different but complementary book to Trans Like Me; a historical anthology, including essays from individual people telling their own story within the major eras of trans history in the UK. Burns sets the scene by dividing the book into three distinct sections, and introducing them to the climate of that era, providing a reader with an overview that places the following essays within a clear cultural context.

The chapter on non-binary people was an essential learning proces
Aug 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I've learned so much from this book about the historical context of trans experience and identity, how it has been both separate from and linked with LGB identities, and the more recent recognition of non-binary identities. It completely dismantles the attempts to diminish trans people by saying their identity is "just a passing fad".

The growing mainstream recognition that trans-ness is not a pathology, rather a valid expression of personhood, is a significant change in social attitudes that I'm
Fred Langridge
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, trans
A comprehensive look at the history of trans activism, trans rights and trans experience in Britain since the mid-20th century. Chapters by different authors, on different themes, are free-standing, so there's a bit of overlap in the history, but it's interesting to read about the same events told through different viewpoints. ...more
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Read this
Extremely educational but was a bit dense and hard-to-follow at times - still v much recommend to those interested in the topic.
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
It's not easy being trans. Our very existence is treated as a 'debate'. We're constantly coming under fire from the media, politicians, and billionaire authors. Cis people - who by their very nature do not know our lives - are given a platform to write articles in national newspapers, and even publish books, filled with misinformation and fallacies about our existence. Trans people ourselves are rarely afforded the same platforms to dispel these lies. This is especially true in the UK (or TERF I ...more
Really liked this anthology! Interviews ranged from people who transitioned in the 60s and 70s, forgotten names that helped to bring about the Gender Recognition Act of 2004, to activists that transitioned in the noughties both binary and non-binary.

Reading this reminded me of how Americanised English Pride events and figures have become. Names like Marsha P. Johnson and Slyvia Rivera, Harvey Milk are thrown around a lot around Pride months. The names Mark Rees, Stephen Whittle or Sue Sanders h
Ellen Mellor
Apr 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trans
I've just finished reading Trans Britain. It's a fascinating and inspiring series of essays covering the history of trans activism from the '50s and' 60s up to the present edited by Christine Burns and written by a number of different people - most of whom are trans and a few cis gender allies who also have a perspective on the subject - either medical or political. There was a lot of stuff that I didn't know, or not to any great depth. On the whole, I found it to be an excellent read and recomm ...more
Jul 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This really helped me better understand not only the history of trans activism and lived experiences in the UK but also trans representation generally - in film, in the law, in the press, in feminist theory, and in the workplace. With so many essays written by significant trans people compiled in one book, I really was taken on a journey through multiple perspectives. I wish there had been a chapter specifically exploring the intersectionality of race and trans rights, but I would highly recomme ...more
Zara Rahman
Jan 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
I learned a lot from this book, and I’m glad I read it! Parts were extremely detailed in a way that didn’t necessarily contribute to the narrative, though, and I had the feeling that a thorough edit would’ve made it both more concise and easier to follow. Generally though, it was eye-opening to learn about the journey the trans community has had in the UK (especially relevant now with the increasing emergence of TERFs in the UK “feminist” scene).
Alan Sutherland
Feb 28, 2021 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book, it was very informative and made me realize how many gaps I had in my knowledge of trans rights. The book has 19 essays, so the writing style varies quite a bit from author to author, so it can interrupt the flow of understanding. All in all, a very good book.
Andrew Brown
Aug 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020, play-books
At times the book is a bit repetitive, but that aside it's a fantastic (and fascinating) first-hand history of trans lives and activism over the past half century. ...more
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, vital read. Great broad range of perspectives on trans history and culture in Britain. Essential reading if you want to know more about trans issues.
Aug 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jack Lloyd
Jul 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: trans-books-read
Okay, where to start!

Initially, when this book first arrived the day after I’d ordered it, I was immediately terrified to read it and rearranged my entire unread books shelf to make a space for it with the expectation that it would be there for the next few months if not years. As a trans person becoming more and more jaded by watching ... the Political Climate ... (that’s all I’ll say about that) in Britain shift to a less than progressive view on trans people and our rights, this book both see
Aug 30, 2019 rated it liked it
This book sets out by taking several different accounts the evolution of Trans people's place in Britain over the last 60 years. It is fascinating in a lot of places and introduced me to loads of facts I didn't know.

However, the contributors tended to be white binary-trans women from middle-class backgrounds of a particular age meaning that we tend to get a very similar narrative in many of the pieces and doesn't really cover the diversity of the community.
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A collection of essays detailing an untold history of trans people from the mid 20th century to the present day. Each chapter told from a different voice causing some over lap but interesting hearing the different viewpoints of the same events. Totally engrossing read.
Nathan Wilson
Sep 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essential for understanding Trans people in Britain

A fantastic read which teaches about the Trans experience and politics in Britain from Trans people themselves. Fuck Germaine Greer.
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: history, politics, gender
Very good and informative. It's a little repetitive sometimes, but that's because a lot of different contributors cover overlapping topics and periods, and certain events are brought up many times—the April Ashley ruling and the Gender Recognition Act, for example—because they affected everyone's lives across the board during these periods. Names recur again and again, which reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend, an environmental activist: she told me that 99% of the crucial eco-act ...more
Jul 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
A detailed, emotive, moving and complex series of essays about British trans-history and current affairs. The essays and narrative intertwine the history of the UK political system, the NHS, interactions in policy change, portrayals in the media and the struggles of trans-gendered individuals.

The book is packed with stories of individuals in the 80s and 90s, as they suffer the UK medical and government systems through decades of torment and neglect to become their recognised gender. As the book
May 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2019
Collection of essays which look at various aspects of trans history (representation in media, healthcare treatments, activism). I loved the essays which were describing people’s lived experience and I learnt so much from the book.

My main frustration was that because the essays overlapped we heard about the same events multiple times and while to begin with it was interesting to hear about it from multiple viewpoints. Definitely helped solidify what events were most important for the community,
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A very readable introduction to the issues that have been, and in many cases still are, faced by trans people in the UK. It starts with the stories of trans people from the latter half of the twentieth century, who were often isolated and had to face prejudice and a total lack of understanding. The next section looks at the history of campaigning to improve trans rights. While much still remains to be done, the hard work and determination of those campaigners is impressive. The final section loo ...more
Peter Herold
What a lovely, informative book 😊
Through first-hand accounts #TransBritain documents the situation of #trans people in the UK from the 1960s right up to the present day. Structured in 3 sections – Survival, Activism and Growth – it gives you the background to understand and contextualise the current debate in terms of legal, linguistic and social evolution and it’s fascinating reading. An ideal present for anyone starting to take an interest about this topic, which affects us all.
Jul 17, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, kindle
This is such an interesting book, coming as I am from a trans view point. There were so many places where I was just flat out flabbergasted by the legal and societal framework that I grew up in. It no great surprise that I didn’t come out until my mid 40s! I thoroughly recommend it!
Jun 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A fantastic compilation of stories from some amazing trans folk and their allies. Definitely one to read if you're unfamiliar with the journey many people have taken to push forward trans rights in the UK. ...more
Jordan Risebury-Crisp
Oct 25, 2020 rated it really liked it
A interesting collection of personal stories from individuals across the last 60 years.
Educational and thoughtful, though some of the chapters were a bit too political and prosaic, making them a a slog to read.
Rhiannon Grant
Oct 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminism, trans
A very helpful overview of history at a time when understandings are changing rapidly. Towards the end I was pleased to find some names I recognised, but also really useful to get a fuller picture.
A bit dry at times, but an interesting history of trans activison in Britain.
Jun 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
i do have to say it stings to have dr lorimer write a whole chapter in this book when he charges £300 an appointment for trans patients who want hrt. But whatever, otherwise a very good book
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Christine Burns MBE has campaigned for a quarter of a century for the civil rights of transgender people, and has been involved with the trans community for more than forty years. She has worked as an equalities consultant, helped to put together new employment legislation and the Gender Recognition Act, and wrote the first ever official guidance about trans people (as both staff and patients) for ...more

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