Interested in transgender issues and topics? Here are some good books for you.
When I’m working on a comic, Ido a lot of research about whatever I’m drawing or writing about. This weekend alone, I’ve gone on an extensive Google exploration of Minneapolis public parks and stockpiled images of 19th century Russian shoes. But when you’re writing about people, that’s when research is absolutely crucial.
For my comic O Human Star, the most important research I’ve done is about transgender people - their experiences coming to terms with their personal identities and how they express themselves publicly. This subject was something that I personally really try to discuss accurately and respectfully, especially since whenever transgender people or topics appear in pop culture, they are (almost) always played for laughs or shock value or just handled really poorly.
Here are two books I’ve read recently that are really great resources for learning more about transgenderism.
This book came out just this year, and is a great starting point for learning about this kind of stuff. If you feel totally lost when it comes to understanding or discussing transgenderism, Teich introduces concepts like gender identity and expression and vocabulary like “genderqueer” and “dysphoria” in a way that’s very accessible and easy to understand. He also gently challenges ideas about gender that readers may take for granted (like the gender binary) and encourages them to consider their preconceptions of homo/heterosexuality. Much of the book’s topics may be old hat for a lot of us Tumblrites, but it’s an excellent resource for young people. Or your mom.
Originally published in 1996, this book is considerably older than Teich’s and shouldn’t be your top source for information on medical procedures or available support networks. But I liked this book as a companion to Teich’s because the intent isn’t to explain concepts in an academic way, but through anecdotes involving real people (based on first person accounts that Brown and Rounsley collected through their research). This was helpful to me because it showed the variety of ways that transgender people recognize their dysphoria, express or suppress their identity, and come out to their families and loved ones. It creates a more personal and diverse image of who transgender people are.
There are also lots of support groups and online resources for transgender people or people interested in learning more about transgenderism. We’re really lucky that there are so many good sources for this kind of information - if you want to discuss something in a comic or a book or another kind of work, it’s your responsibility to be informed about it!
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