Over the past few weeks I’ve been thumbing through the behemoth compilation “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource for the Transgender Community,” planning to write about the recently published book soon.
I did see an Associated Press story about it in May, just before it came out, but nothing more. So I was super thrilled that a “Fresh Air” segment this week featured this awesome addition to the meager but growing body of transgender literature. That’s some great publicity!
Host Terry Gross interviewed editor Laura Erickson-Schroth; Jennifer Finney Boylan, who wrote the introduction; and Aidan Key, who contributed the chapter about gender-nonconforming children. Laura is a fellow in public psychiatry and LGBT Health at Columbia University Medical Center; Aidan is founder of the family education and support organization Gender Diversity; and Jenny is … well, you know!
The collection of essays by professional writers and experts as well as plain folks is patterned after the groundbreaking “Our Bodies, Ourselves,” a book by women for women in 1973 in response to men controlling them in many areas, especially in health care. When I was a budding feminist in 1979 and read that book, I felt radical, powerful, connected. It helped change my worldview. I’m sure that “Trans Bodies” will do the same for people marginalized by society who are searching, need affirmation or want to feel a part of something powerful.
The breadth of the 672-page book, published by Oxford Unitersity Press (it costs $39.95 in paperback) is staggering. It’s written for and by trans and gender non-conforming people, and gets up close and personal, as did “Our Bodies.” Each chapters tackles an important trans issue, such as race, religion, employment, legal issues, families, medical and surgical transition, mental health, relationships, sexuality, parenthood and culture. Parts of it are quite graphic — which is quite laudable.
I would say that “Trans Bodies” is on its way to becoming a classic, but indeed it already is. Jenny rightfully calls the book “nothing short of revolutionary.” I’d like to think of it as evolutionary as well. May hearts and minds continue to open, inside and outside the movement.