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Transparent: Love, Family, and Living the T with Transgender Teenagers

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  492 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
When Cris Beam first moved to Los Angeles, she thought she might put in just a few hours volunteering at a school for transgender kids while she got settled. Instead she found herself drawn deeply into the pained and powerful group of transgirls she discovered. In Transparent she introduces four of them—Christina, Domineque, Foxxjazell, and Ariel—and shows us their world, ...more
Hardcover, 318 pages
Published January 2nd 2007 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Eva Leger
Jan 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: b-non-fiction, glbt
Well, I can honestly say I learned a lot from this book. I've had it sitting around ever since I was back on and just never got to it. I wanted to start whittling away at my hardbacks and this was at the top. (Alphabetical order by author last name, had no A's.) (Yes, I'm a geek.)
Sooo, uh, I had never heard of alyhas. "Alyhas were (and sometimes still are) genetically male tribe members, who wore women's clothing, adopted women's names, and did women's work."
In the Mohave culture, four di
Feb 19, 2012 rated it it was ok
This book made me angry. The perspective from which it's written is very much a "white savior" / "cis savior" one, if you follow me. It's all about how the writer experienced the lives of several young trans women of color, and portrays these young women's stories with a sympathetic, but never empathetic, gaze. The book has a very "save the children" tone to it, and throughout the reading, I could practically hear the author begging me to open up my heart to these women. Paternalistic, patronizi ...more
ONTD Feminism
LJ user kissberrywish:

OMG. I can't even with this book. I've probably read it seven times. It's about a group of young trans girls of color living in L.A, told from the perspective of a lesbian woman who begins working at a school for LGBT youth. I related so much to the characters in this book, in a way that I never did with other trans narratives. It's pretty much "real talk", not a lot of sugarcoating and shows you what life is like for these women: homelessness, sex work, family rejection, v
Jan 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
"Aside from some quibbles with definition of terms, pronoun usage, and the "white lesbian saves/helps/tells story of trans youth of color" thing, this is actually pretty good."

This was my initial reaction to this book. And while it held true throughout my reading of the text, I also grew to empathize, sympathize, and identify with the profiled young women.

Part memoir, part history lesson, part scientific explanation, part legal instruction, and part call-to-arms, this may not be the BEST book,
 PuMbA's MoMmy*•.♥.•*
Transparent is a very informative book on the Transgender Community. It was a very sad read overall. The author followed a few teenagers in the City of Los Angeles and wrote about their trials and tribulations with their sexuality and being accepted by society. These ladies lead very sad lives. Most, if not all are shunned out of their families lives and are homeless on the streets because their families don’t accept their sexuality. They grow up being confused and sad throughout puberty. Withou ...more
Apr 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: wmstrelated
i am totally impressed with how the author got involved in the lives of the teens she met. the book made me think about the coming of age experience of trans teens and how much harder their experience is when our society is so reliant on the gender binary as a means of organizing structures and support.

the book was well written and i highly recommend this to people who interact with children who might be different in the ways they express their gender identity. actually, i would recommend this
May 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book has really not aged well - for better or worse, public perceptions of transness have changed dramatically since this was written, and almost all of the terminology Beam uses is hopelessly dated. (To give you an idea of how bad it is: the word 'cisgender' does not appear once in this book.) It's also badly organized, and on principle, I'm never going to love a book about POC communities written by a white person. Still, there are some interesting stories here, and it does a lot to docum ...more
Jul 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A comprehensive, well researched and compassionate look at transgender youth, their lives on the street, and the challenges they face. Beam, a writer, informally taught at Eagles Academy a makeshift school for transgender kids. With the kids they created a magazine called Out & About. She became invested in a number of the kids and researched their journey.
I didn't know much about the transgender world and learned a lot from this book. The main cities for transgender youth are LA, SF and NY
Engrossing narrative non-fiction in which the author began by volunteering to teach at an alternative school for LGBT homeless youth while her partner was in grad school in Los Angeles. Her journey evolved in to her getting to know and, with a few, becoming more involved in the lives of 6 or so transgender women (most homeless transgender persons are women and not men, which doesn't come as much of a surprise, and is one of many subjects delved in to in a thoughtful and well-researched manner). ...more
May 02, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Cris Beam is fast becoming one of my favorite nonfiction authors. I wanted to read about her foster parenting of Christina - which she briefly references in "To the End of June" - but the author's teaching and befriending of several teenage/young adult transgirls was excellent as well. As a civil rights attorney, I liked taking note of the things that have changed for the better since the book's 2007 publication (some laws in the prison, education, and housing contexts), although lots of hearts ...more
Nov 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: glbtq, nonfiction
This book is part memoir, part investigative journalism, part ethnographic study, and entirely amazing. I felt like I learned so much about the trans culture (or at least this one small part of it), though when I began I didn't consider myself uneducated. I guess I was! Or at least, I hadn't thought about it as deeply as Beam asked me to go. And I went there. Oh, I went there. And it was worth it.

If you liked this book, or like her writing style but not this topic, her book To the End of June: T
Andrea Patrick
Sep 29, 2009 rated it it was ok
I thought this was going to be about a family that included a kid that was transgender, but it's really about an out-of-work magazine writer who hung out a lot with "transgender girls", which are boys who more strongly identify with the female gender. There's hardly anything in it about girls who identify as male, so it felt a little one-sided.

It's not written well. There's a few pages about a situation going on in someone's life, then a few paragraphs thrown in that relate to how that issue was
Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
i decided to read this book after watching (and loving) the new series i am jazz on tlc. this was really eye opening and informative about transgender people and the things they go through. it's a little dated (i think transgender stuff is a little more towards the mainstream now than it was when this was written) but i really think it was a great book. there were mentions of gwen arujo (sp?) and i knew her story from watching the lifetime movie about her. so sad what happened to her. i really l ...more
Dec 30, 2011 rated it really liked it
This is a great book on a woman's experiences involving some transgendered youth she meets as a teacher at an alternative school for kids in Los Angeles. This story follows her real life journey with a few of these youth. As well as the story, the author has also done research and given facts into the reality of a lot of transgender youth and the amount of difficulties they experience in day to day life and the dangers that many of these youth face on an ongoing basis. It is also a story of hope ...more
Miriasha Borsykowsky
Jun 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: queer
Although some parts made me uncomfortable (the author uses the girls' birth names too much for my liking, although only when describing their past) this book was overall amazing and extremely informative.
Obviously, this book is not a comprehensive picture of trans* people's experiences, but that's part of why I loved it. Instead of trying to make generalizations, it focused on four women that the author knows very personally.
I fell in love with all of them and I think that the author did an exce
Marie Sophia
Nov 21, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very good book. It shows a life that isn't often explored, that of poor and immigrant transgender teens. The issues explored are real and immediate. However, the story did seem to jump in some parts, there wasnt a coherent plot, more of a series of short stories.

For what it is- the first real exploration of this type - it is excellent.

I did like the fact that she pulled no punches in describing the life these teens lead.

To me it is a good thing to have someone describe the life these kids lead,
Taylor Brown
Apr 15, 2015 rated it liked it
The beginning of this book sort of reads like the author is someone's parent who is trying to get into the world of a teenager and is fascinated by it but doesn't understand it and it gets a little weird. There are parts that seem like the stereotypical Ally who doesn't actually know what they're talking about. There are parts where the authors opinions do not match up with the world that they are trying to live in. However, it does tell a good story and I would say it's probably worth the read ...more
Dec 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: adult-nf
This is a very well done book. If you have any interest in learning about transgender youth culture, and/or transgender teens of color, or being a youth of color this is very informative. There are many issues at intersection here, youth rights, poverty, tension between generations in immigrant culture, drugs, queerness, beauty, gender, education etc. Written by a queer woman who taught, advocated for, and be-freinded several poor, trans-gender teens of color living in group homes or on the stre ...more
Dec 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I finally was able to read this book, which I picked up again to find some excerpts to have my class read. The author is a writer, mainly for magazines I believe, and the chapters can read as separate pieces at times, as she repeats things that don't need to be mentioned again, or wouldn't be in most books. But the writing is good and Beam gives the reader a very personal look at the lives of the transgender teens she meets in LA. Anyone who thinks transgender people are freaks or unnatural shou ...more
Oct 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
this was a really eye-opening book for me. written compassionately with a tone of healthy curiosity, cris beam provides thorough explanation of trans-life, processes, identities, struggles, and labels within the stories of the youth she works with. i was really impressed with this book, and even more surprised that harcourt published it. a must-read for the general public, especially those who are ignorant to gender/identity theory and the "alternative" lifestyles of the lgtb community.
Jun 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people that work with kids and those who are looking to learn more about trans people
When I started reading this book I was worried about that it would emphasize stereotypes, as the first 20 pages or so did, but I've since completely changed my mind. I enjoyed it so much that I had a hard time putting it down. The author has done more than just describe her experiences, she's also included historical perspectives and scientific research (or emphasized the lack thereof), which I love her for. I got it from the library, but plan to buy it and read again.
Jun 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
this book was fucking amazing. cris beam manages to let the natural humor of her subjects flow through without making fun of them! which is quite a fine line. this book is moving, sad, fascinating and touching, and one of the rare books about transpeople i've read that shows them as full people, not just as their trangendered identity. there's plenty of facts, too, if you're into those, and i learned a lot. yay!
I appreciate many of the reviewers who see this book as a 'white savior' kind of piece but I really think Beam lived at least part of the story. Also this is a book about people who really fall through American society's cracks, who go completely unnoticed by the mainstream, but who live such complex lives, so I was very glad to be able to read positive stories about their lives (as well as the negative ones) and share little bits of their experiences.
Sep 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: people looking for a good, human story.
This book is an extremely open and powerful look at a group of young transwomen in LA, and also a revealing and powerful look at the relationship between a young teacher and the young women she teaches, befriends, and parents. It is both hard and necessary to read - you feel both the pains of adolescence and the pains of social inequality as you look through the pages of the book. The author has a strong voice that navigates the reader through.
Aug 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Finally a book that does good by the transkids! I am always hesitant when I pick up a book about trans folks, but any concern I had about this book was very quickly put to rest. Beam’s work is at once grim, honest, heart-tugging, realistic, and without bias. This a necessary addition to everyone’s bookshelf.
Apr 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
Personal memoir of a woman who taught transgendered teens and ended up becoming the guardian of one of her students. Combines personal experience with research and interviews. Full of fascinating stuff about California trans teen culture. I was delighted to see how many of her students mentioned the public library as someplace they learned something or obtained an item of value.
Lollipopwater Norton
Aug 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
I originally was a bit disappointed that the stories in this book focused on transgendered girls, and hardly a mention about transgendered boys. But despite that, I really enjoyed the read. Cris Beam was wonderfully informed on her topic, and supplied interesting "history lessons" throughout. Her commitment to reaching out and helping teens was inspirational.
Jun 02, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014
Interesting memoir of dealing with transgender teens in Los Angeles; information is pretty specific to the individuals in the stories and may not reflect larger trends, however. I was hoping for a broader survey of core issues facing transgender adolescents, and while this was fascinating, it didn't quite hit the research points I needed.
Eh. The writing style is trite, the stories of her students not surprising, sad, but nothing one couldn't guess. It is more biography, memoir than a book I would recommend to someone working with the LGBT community, which is more what I was looking for when I picked it up an a "pay what you can" sale table in Cambridge one Friday night.
Aug 24, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: LGBTQ and Allies
A- Really interesting; the story of these transgender youth who are kicked out of their homes, living on the streets, often forced to prostitute, and their difficulties with gender and acceptance. Really good.
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CRIS BEAM is a journalist who has written for several national magazines as well as for public radio. She has an MFA in nonfiction from Columbia University and teaches creative writing at Columbia and the New School. She lives in New York.
More about Cris Beam