These are some of my favorite books and organizations. 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.
Hair removal is certainly one of the most stressful parts of transitioning. Electrologist Linda DeFruscio fell into treating the Boston-area trans community and she’s written a book that shares lovely transition stories of some of her clients. It also includes FAQs and more. “Transgender Profiles: Time for a Change” is sure to inspire anyone fearing those first steps, and is also a good primer for friends and family members. It was published in 2018 and you can read more about it here.
Published in 2014, “Trans Bodies, Trans Selves,” was written by and for transgender and gender-nonconforming people. The tome, edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth, is informative, moving and powerful. I featured it in my blog here. Every trans or questioning person should own this incredible resource.
“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.
Anne M. Reid writes about her transitioning husband (now wife) in her 2018 memoir “She Said, She Said: Love, Loss and Living My New Normal.” An Australian expat living in rural Virginia (that’s a story alone!), Anne writes in almost real-time about her relationship with Paul, who became Paula. She navigates this surreal terrain while also raising their three young children. Anne writes in a very conversational, emotive style, which will appeal to women going through this or having gone through it. A bit more on it here.
“The Ties That Bind” (2017) is a documentary by Diana Newton that gives a deep, honest and hopeful look at how a regular family with a mix of ages and conservative and liberal views grapples with a transgender transition – and, most importantly – with one another. You can view a trailer here, which also includes information on streaming or purchasing the film. Read my blog entry about the film here.
In late 2016, a very welcome addition to the “wife of” collection gives us a look at how home life (with two children!) after a transition can ultimately be uplifting and compassionate. In “Housewife: Home Re-Making in a Transgender Marriage,” Oregon resident Kristin K. Collier shares the story of her marriage to Fred, who become Seda. It’s a must-buy for wives in the same situation. I wrote a bit about it here. I also love her blog post “Five Things to Know When Your Spouse is Transgender.”
This 2012 post of mine about partners and families has been helpful to people, so I’m listing it under resources as well.
A terrific look at one family that went through a transition is the 2015 documentary “From This Day Forward,” by Sharon Shattuck, whose father transitioned when she was young. The film’s very encouraging 2016 update is worth reading too.
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. Helen has published two books, both written before her spouse transitioned: “My Husband Betty,” and “She’s Not the Man I Married.”
“Love, Always: Partners of Trans People on Intimacy, Challenge & Resilience” came out in 2015 from Transgress Press. More female-to-male than male-to-female experiences are detailed, but we all still have much in common.
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.
In “My Husband’s a Woman Now: A Shared Journey of Transition and Love,” published in 2014, Leslie Hilburn Fabian writes a positive, loving, and personal account of her spouse’s transition. Readers not directly impacted by the topic will be educated, while those in the trenches will see themselves. I wrote about it in depth here.
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.
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.