Today is International Transgender Day of Visibility! Here is a round up of some things to check out:
Some fiction titles to read:
I am J by Cris Beam
J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was; a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him; eventually J stopped praying to wake up a “real boy” and started covering up his body, keeping himself invisible – from his family, from his friends…from the world. But after being deserted by the best friend he thought would always be by his side, J decides that he’s done hiding – it’s time to be who he really is. And this time he is determined not to give up, no matter the cost.
An inspiring story of self-discovery, of choosing to stand up for yourself, and of finding your own path – readers will recognize a part of themselves in J’s struggle to love his true self.
Freakboy by Kristin Elizabeth Clark
From the outside, Brendan Chase seems to have it pretty easy. He’s a star wrestler, a video game aficionado, and a loving boyfriend to his seemingly perfect match, Vanessa. But on the inside, Brendan struggles to understand why his body feels so wrong—why he sometimes fantasizes having long hair, soft skin, and gentle curves. Is there even a name for guys like him? Guys who sometimes want to be girls? Or is Brendan just a freak?
In Freakboy’s razor-sharp verse, Kristin Clark folds three narratives into one powerful story: Brendan trying to understand his sexual identity, Vanessa fighting to keep her and Brendan’s relationship alive, and Angel struggling to confront her demons.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kristin Cronn-Mills
“This is Beautiful Music for Ugly Children, on community radio 90.3, KZUK. I’m Gabe. Welcome to my show.”
My birth name is Elizabeth, but I’m a guy. Gabe. My parents think I’ve gone crazy and the rest of the world is happy to agree with them, but I know I’m right. I’ve been a boy my whole life.
When you think about it, I’m like a record. Elizabeth is my A side, the song everybody knows, and Gabe is my B side–not heard as often, but just as good.
It’s time to let my B side play.
Some non-fiction books to discover:
A 2015 Stonewall Honor Book
A groundbreaking work of LGBT literature takes an honest look at the life, love, and struggles of transgender teens.
Author and photographer Susan Kuklin met and interviewed six transgender or gender-neutral young adults and used her considerable skills to represent them thoughtfully and respectfully before, during, and after their personal acknowledgment of gender preference. Portraits, family photographs, and candid images grace the pages, augmenting the emotional and physical journey each youth has taken. Each honest discussion and disclosure, whether joyful or heartbreaking, is completely different from the other because of family dynamics, living situations, gender, and the transition these teens make in recognition of their true selves.
Rethinking Normal: A Memoir in Transition by Katie Rain Hill
In her unique, generous, and affecting voice, nineteen-year-old Katie Hill shares her personal journey of undergoing gender reassignment.
Have you ever worried that you’d never be able to live up to your parents’ expectations? Have you ever imagined that life would be better if you were just invisible? Have you ever thought you would do anything–anything–to make the teasing stop? Katie Hill had and it nearly tore her apart.
Katie never felt comfortable in her own skin. She realized very young that a serious mistake had been made; she was a girl who had been born in the body of a boy. Suffocating under her peers’ bullying and the mounting pressure to be “normal,” Katie tried to take her life at the age of eight years old. After several other failed attempts, she finally understood that “Katie”–the girl trapped within her–was determined to live.
In this first-person account, Katie reflects on her pain-filled childhood and the events leading up to the life-changing decision to undergo gender reassignment as a teenager. She reveals the unique challenges she faced while unlearning how to be a boy and shares what it was like to navigate the dating world and experience heartbreak for the first time in a body that matched her gender identity. Told in an unwaveringly honest voice,Rethinking Normal is a coming-of-age story about transcending physical appearances and redefining the parameters of “normalcy” to embody one’s true self.
Some Assembly Required: The Not-So-Secret Life of a Transgender Teen by Arin Andrews
Seventeen-year-old Arin Andrews shares all the hilarious, painful, and poignant details of undergoing gender reassignment as a high school student in this winning memoir. We’ve all felt uncomfortable in our own skin at some point, and we’ve all been told that it’s just a part of growing up. But for Arin Andrews, it wasn’t a phase that would pass. He had been born in the body of a girl and there seemed to be no relief in sight. In this revolutionary memoir, Arin details the journey that led him to make the life-transforming decision to undergo gender reassignment as a high school junior. In his captivatingly witty, honest voice, Arin reveals the challenges he faced as a girl, the humiliation and anger he felt after getting kicked out of his private school, and all the changes, both mental and physical, he experienced once his transition began. Arin also writes about the thrill of meeting and dating a young transgender woman named Katie Hill and the heartache that followed after they broke up. Some Assembly Required is a true coming-of-age story about knocking down obstacles and embracing family, friendship, and first love. But more than that, it is a reminder that self-acceptance does not come ready-made with a manual and spare parts. Rather, some assembly is always required.
Ten year old Laure isn t like most girls. She prefers football to dolls and sweaters to dresses. When Laure, her parents and little sister Jeanne move to a new neighbourhood, family life remains much the same. That is, until local girl Lisa mistakes Laure to be a boy.
Indulging in this exciting new identity, Laure becomes Michael, and so begins a summer of long sunny afternoons, playground games and first kisses. Yet with the school term fast approaching, and with suspicions arising amongst friends and family, Laure must face up to an uncertain future.
My Life: I Am Leo
Thirteen year-old Leo loves socialising with his friends, beat-boxing and doing all the things a 13 year-old boy would normally do. What makes Leo different is that he was born with a girl’s body. He has become one of the first children in Britain to be prescribed hormone blockers to prevent him growing into a young woman.
Leo tells his very intimate story through a series of video diaries and interviews to explain exactly what it’s like to be transgender and his journey to be accepted by other people as male.
Leo was born as Lily but has lived as a boy since the age of five and changed his name by deed poll at the age of 11. He talks about the support that he has had from his family but also explains that a lot of people struggled to accept his decision to live as a boy, particularly at primary school.
The CBBC cameras follow Leo to the Tavistock and Portland clinic, which specialises in treating transgender people. Here Leo receives hormone treatment and also counselling on what it means to be transgender.
Leo also meets 20 year-old Natalie, who was born male but lives as a young woman, and Stephen Whittle OBE, who was also born female but has lived most of his adult life as a man. Stephen helped set up Press For Change, a support group for transgender people.
By telling his story, Leo explains the importance of feeling accepted for who we are and also hopes to ensure that other young people don’t face the same prejudices and hostilities as he has done since making his decision.
My Life: I Am Leo was made by Nine Lives Media and will be shown as part of anti-bullying week on CBBC.
If you are planning to write trans* characters and would like some advice, Bang2Write has published two amazing articles on trans* characters written by Michael Richardson.
Michael Lee Richardson is a writer and youth worker based in Glasgow. In 2013, his Young Adult comedy script, Real Life Experience – about a young trans man starting his last year of school and socialising as a boy for the first time – was ‘highly commended’ for the Trans Comedy Award. As a youth worker, he set up and runs Trans* Youth Glasgow.
Some more links:
9 Awesome trans people | Pink News
Films with Trans interest | Peccadillo Pictures
The #transdayofvisibility hashtag | Twitter