This November marks an important time for transgender and intersex communities — not only as a crucial moment for intersex political organizing, but also as a period of celebration and remembrance: Intersex Solidarity Day is celebrated on November 8th, the birthday of Herculine Barbin. Barbin was a French intersex woman who was forcibly assigned male by a court after her affair and medical examinations were made public. Transgender Awareness Week is the second week of the month, leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance on November 20th. This international observance honors the lives of trans people, and remembers those who have been killed due to transphobic violence. As nonbinary library employees of color, we’ve compiled this list of books that center the lives and experiences of intersex, transgender, and non-binary people.
I’m Afraid of Men by Vivek Shreya
This short volume of essays is a deeply vulnerable examination of masculine violence in our society. The essays are accessible, profoundly honest, and they serve to help us all think more deeply about gendered violence. Content warning for self-harm, transmisogyny (violence against trans women), abuse.
When The Chant Comes by Kay Ulanday Barrett
This collection of poetry from Kay Ulanday Barrett speaks deeply and honestly to their life. From diaspora to disability, fighting for survival and fighting to be recognized, the complexities of family privilege, and more. Soul medicine for queer and trans people of color. Medicine for chronically ill and disabled folks. It’s poetry that sings and sways as it moves through you.
A Proper Young Lady by Lianne Simon
An #OwnVoices story about Daniele, an intersex woman, and her life caught-between: her love for two people, and her identity and how society insists on perceiving her.
“Kumu Hina”, a 2014 documentary film about Hina Wong-Kalu, a trans Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) teacher. Within Indigenous Hawaiian culture, “mahu” are non-binary gendered people who are respected as leaders and healers.
*Trap Door: Trans Cultural Production and the Politics of Visibility, edited by Tourmaline Gossett, Eric A. Stanley, and Johanna Burton.
“Trans visibility is touted as a sign of a liberal society, but it has coincided with a political moment marked both by heightened violence against trans people (especially trans women of color) and by the suppression of trans rights under civil law. Trap Door grapples with these contradictions.” (Publisher’s summary). Contributors include CeCe McDonald, Che Gossett, Dean Spade, and Miss Major.
The Remedy: Queer and Trans Voices on Health and Health Care, edited by Zena Sharman.
“To remedy means to heal, to cure, to set right, to make reparations. The Remedy invites writers and readers to imagine what we need to create healthy, resilient, and thriving LGBTQ communities.” This anthology does a wonderful job of including the voices of queer and trans healthcare providers, patients, and activists. Be sure to check out some of these excellent essays including, “Navigating This Life As a Black Intersex Man” by Sean Safia Wall.
*A note from Bean: Some may be upset to see the term “trap” (a slur used against trans people) used in this title. In this instance, this is both an #OwnVoices usage (that is, the book is written/edited by trans people), and is very intentional to the premise of the collection. From the publisher’s summary:
Collectively, [the trans contributors to this book] attest to how trans people are frequently offered ‘doors’ — Entrances to visibility and recognition __ that are actually ‘traps,’ accommodating trans bodies and communities only insofar as they cooperate with dominant norms. The volume speculates about a third term, perhaps uniquely suited for our time: the trapdoor, neither entrance nor exit, but a secret passageway leading elsewhere.”
~ posted by Sunny K. and Bean Y.
Sunny (they/them) is a community organizer turned librarian at Rainier Beach who loves recommending media created by and for queer and trans people of color.
Bean (they/them) is a library worker at Southwest. Their holds shelf is usually full of #OwnVoices children’s literature, intersectional nonfiction, and bookbinding guides.