These are some of my favorite books and organizations. I’m not a clearinghouse for all things trans. Those already exists. Most of the links below will take you to a wealth of other resources. Some are general LGBT (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans), not just transgender.
“Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue,” by Nicholas Teich. Hot off the press in 2012, this book jumps to the head of the pack for its timeliness and readability. Author Nick is also the founder and president of Camp Aranu’tiq, the first summer camp for transgender kids.
“True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism – For Families, Friends, Co-workers, and Helping Professionals,” by Mildred L. Brown and Chloe Ann Rounsley. This book was written in 2003, and could use an update, but it’s a great primer. We gave it to family and a few friends.
“She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders,” by Jennifer Finney Boylan. I put this under primers because novelist Jenny Boylan’s 2003 memoir of transitioning from male to female is groundbreaking. Why? Because it’s so well written that you live the story with her. It will open your eyes and your heart. And because Jenny was (and still is) married, there’s a good bit about spouses as well. Update: In spring 2013, a 10th anniversary edition of the book came out with a new foreward by the author and an afterward by her wife “Grace,” who in real life is Deirdre Boylan.
“The Lives of Transgender People,” by Genny Beemyn and Susan Rankin. This is a more scholarly, data-focused boo, published in 2011, and is the result of the authors’ groundbreaking study examining the transgender community. Nearly 3,5000 pepole participated in the servicy, making it one of the largest ever conduct in theUS. While it’s grounded in science, personal testimonies bring it to life.
Specifically for spouses/partners/families
Note: Most (all?) all female-to-male transsexuals lived as lesbians when they were women, so I’m referring only to male-to-female trans people. The ones who transition later in the life are often married to women and have families.
Helen Boyd is the country’s most well known and well published “wife of.” At www.myhusbandbetty.com, she runs the blog En/Gender: Helen Boyd’s Journal of Gender & Trans issues as well as community forums. You’ll find many other resources there.
Jennifer Finney Boylan (author of “She’s Not There”) has written a book about transitioning while her two sons were young and she was (and still is) married. While “Stuck in the Middle With You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders“) focuses on Jenny, in includes a good deal about family during transition. She also includes interviews with other writers delving into what family means to different people.
Another important book is “Head Over Heels: Wives Who Stay With Cross-Dressers and Transsexuals.” It comprises vignettes of spouses’ experiences. The weakness is that the wives are anonymous. The strength is that the writer, psychologist and therapist Virginia Erhardt, analyzes each situation.
A “wife-of” in the Boston area has just started a blog called “Sharing Stories: A site for wives, girlfriends, and friends of transgender men.” She invites those so moved to contribute their own stories.
I’m not endorsing this therapist because I don’t know her and haven’t vetted her, but I am passing along her information because we had an email exchange that showed her experience with and empathy toward the families of trans people. Her name is Liz Lipman-Stern and she runs Outside the Box Counseling, which is a great name for a service that focuses on just that. www.outsidetheboxcounts.com
National advocacy and support groups (Mass and NC groups at end)
Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund. Transgender people still experience much prejudice and violence. TLDEF is committed to ending discrimination based upon gender identity and expression and to achieving equality for transgender people through public education, test-case litigation, direct legal services, community organizing and public policy efforts.
Human Rights Campaign. As the largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Americans, the Human Rights Campaign advocates on behalf of LGBT Americans, mobilizes grassroots actions in diverse communities, invests strategically to elect fair-minded individuals to office and educates the public about LGBT issues.
PFLAG: Parents, Families, & Friends of Lesbians and Gays (and Trans, though it’s not in the name) is the grandmother of all gender preference/gender identity family-support groups. Though it does focus on gay families, there is a trans component. It’s a great place to start.
National Center for Transgender Equality is a social justice organization dedicated to advancing the equality of transgender people through advocacy, collaboration and empowerment.
Lambda Legal is a national organization committed to achieving full recognition of the civil rights of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, transgender people and those with HIV through impact litigation, education and public policy work.
The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) holds the media accountable for the words and images they present and helps people and grassroots organizations communicate effectively.
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force works to build the grassroots political power of the LGBT community to win complete equality through lobbying and legislation. It also reports on the positions of candidates for public office on issues of importance to the LGBT community.
The Williams Institute at UCLA Law is a national think tank “dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy.” It produces research and “disseminates it to judges, legislators, policymakers, media and the public.”
L.A Gay & Lesbian Center, while based in Los Angeles, fields calls about transgender health care from around the country and is thought to be the largest center of its kind in the world.
Gay & Lesbian Leadership Institute works to achieve full equality for LGBT people by building, supporting, and advancing a diverse network of LGBT leaders.
Campaign for Southern Equality, based in Asheville, NC, is a national effort to assert the full humanity and equality of lesbian,gay,bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in American life and to increase public support for LGBT rights.
Financial assistance for surgery
The Jim Collins Foundation is a Connecticut-based nonprofit that provides financial assistance to transgender people for gender-confirming surgeries.
Specifically for youth
Several of the national groups above have youth components, so check those out as well.
It Gets Better Project was started in 2010 as a response to the rash of youth suicides as a way to show LGBT youth the glorious possibilities the future may hold for them. It’s wonderful!
Camp Aranu’tiq started in 2010. It’s a weeklong summer camp in southern New England for transgender and gender-variant kids ages 8-15. How cool is that? I hope it expands around the country and adds more weeks.
Friends of GLBT Youth is Boston-based. Because our story ran in the Boston Globe and will attract many Boston-area readers, I wanted to mention them. I’m so happy to see such groups forming across the country, including one in NC (below).
Gender Spectrum is a group I’m not familiar with, so I’m going by its website that it provides education, training and support to help create a gender sensitive and inclusive environment for all children and teens. Its director is Stephanie Brill, who co-wrote a book I recommend, The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals.
Welcoming faith groups
Unitarian Universalists are welcoming to everyone, and many people from other faiths originally (or humanists for that matter) are drawn here, as were Lina and I. In the last few years, UU has focused on “standing on the side of love” in support of gay marriage. Many congregations have GLBT support groups.
Metropolitan Community Churches is a global Christian church that has a specific outreach to GLBT members and friends.
Because I live in North Carolina…
Equality North Carolina is a statewide group dedicated to securing equal rights and justice for LGBT people. They’re very on the ball, too!
iNSIDEoUT is a group I’m starting to do some work with as an adult ally. It’s a youth-founded, youth-led organization that provides leadership opportunities & a safe space for North Carolina’s LGBTQISA-queer youth, both in & out of schools and works on forming Gay-Straight Alliances.
Because my story was published in Massachusetts …
MassEquality works to protect, promote and defend marriage equality and to advance lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. They’re currently (2011) pushing for passage of a bill pass that protects trans people in employment, housing, public accommodations, education and credit.
Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition is dedicated to ending discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.
Trans People Speak is a multimedia campaign aimed at educating the public about the diverse communities of trans individuals, families, and allies.