Category: books

Recommendation: Exile and Pride by Eli Clare

Sunshine Wolfe recommends…

Eli Clare is one of my favorite genderqueer, queer, disability, and class activists. Zi is also a great racial justice ally. This book is poetic, personal, and powerful. One of my favorite sections includes the lines— “The body as home, but only if it is understood that bodies can be stolen… The body as home, but only if stolen bodies can be reclaimed.”

I highly encourage reading Eli Clare’s work and checking out hir website.

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Posted by on November 5th, 2011 at 04:00 pm

books, recommendations | 3 comments »

Recommendation: “Trans-Sister Radio” by Chris Bohjalian

Juli Myers recommends…

This is, without a doubt, the best and most accurate portrayal of a trans woman’s life (and I am speaking as one) that I have ever read. The story is narrated from the points of view of all of the main characters, and the thoughts and feelings of the trans woman in this book could have been lifted from my head. She and her situation are treated with what can only be described as love. Over the years, I have read many reviews of this book, some good, some so-so. However, from the point of view of someone who could be the main character, it’s a must-read for anyone – trans or not.

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Posted by on November 1st, 2011 at 08:00 am

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Recommendation: Confessions of an Empty Purse

S. McDonald recommends…

“Confessions of an Empty Purse” is a poetic transmemoir of growing up “gender terrified” in Toronto’s “Cabbagetown” in the ’60s and ’70s — passion and fear, laughter, nightmares and dysphoria, preservation, degradation, dreams and pride … and it really happened. I was – am – there.

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Posted by on May 28th, 2011 at 08:00 am

books, recommendations | 1 comment »

Recommendation: How Loathsome

Rogan recommends…

How Loathsome
A comic book

This comic book was the first time I found out trans guys existed. Now, five or six years later and having plowed through a LOT of trans lit, I don’t think I could’ve done much better, as far as intros go.

Many of the characters bend gender here, and none attempt suicide, get disowned, or get bashed for it–mainly because they have other things going on in their lives. Like go to crazy parties, try to kick drugs, or perform at drag shows.

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Posted by on January 16th, 2011 at 08:00 am

books, comics, recommendations | 4 comments »

Recommendation: Monstrous Regiment

Heron recommends…
Monstrous Regiment

In a backwater country constantly mired in religious and social conflict with its neighbors, Polly finds herself enlisting (a big no-no in the land of Borogravia) as a man (another no-no!) so she can save her missing brother and save the family business. She’s joined by a rag-tag team of young enlistees and their old-timer sergeant. But … is everything as it seems?

As deadly serious as the situation seems, it’s a very funny, clever, yet touching at times look at gender roles. Pratchett’s pretty irreverent about a lot of things, so don’t go in expecting a manifesto – expect to laugh and nod.

Without spoiling too much, Genderfork readers will find each enlistee has their own story and their fates, identities, and relationships are sometimes left purposefully ambiguous.

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Posted by on January 4th, 2011 at 04:00 pm

books, recommendations | 6 comments »

Recommendation: Wraeththu by Storm Constantine

Caesium recommends…

Wraeththu by Storm Constantine

Beautifully written book that addresses gender in some very interesting ways. It’s about a genderless, hermaphroditic race named Wraeththu that evolves from humanity, and is able to alter men into beings like themselves—and don’t worry if the concept seems too sci-fi for your tastes; it’s very character driven and really doesn’t read like sci-fi at all.

You get a full range of characters’ reactions to their upturned gender. Some struggle with it; some embrace their dual nature and blame humanity’s decline on not recognizing that they all contained both masculine and feminine aspects; some groups try to superimpose gender roles onto themselves; and then there’s the glorious moment of a second-generation Wraeththu perplexed by the silly old concept of gender. The really fascinating thing is how much the ideologies and norms range from one group of Wraeththu to another; there’s the warlike Varr who divide themselves into a masculine soldier class and a feminine breeding class, the ultra-egalitarian Gelaming, and plenty of others in between–and of course you get to hear each group’s commentary on how barbaric the others are.

Posted by on November 13th, 2010 at 08:00 am

books, recommendations | 6 comments »

Recommendation: The Sand Child

jean c. recommends…

This is a great book about the mysterious, mystical, and constructed nature of gender identity. Written in French by Tahar Ben Jelloun, a Moroccan author, it tells the story of a female child who is brought up as a boy, Ahmed, because his father, after having seven daughters, needs a son. Ahmed (for whom varying pronouns and names are used in different parts of the book) questions his identity and his existence, observes the world around him, and tries to figure out how to live his life, first retreating, then going out into the world.

The story (somewhat magical-realist) is told by different voices and in fragments of narration — each of which presents different variations on the meaning of the story and on the facts themselves. No “truth” or “conclusion” is ever really reached, which very much hit home to me with my own gender identity. There’s no definable conclusion, just a varying group of stories that have more or less validity at any given time…

Also, I felt a shiver of recognition and kinship with the passages describing Ahmed’s intimate aloneness with his body. This is a complicated and sometimes confusing book to read, but really worth it.

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Posted by on September 28th, 2010 at 08:00 am

books, recommendations | 3 comments »

Recommendation: The Revenants

J recommends…


The Revenants by Sheri S. Tepper

This is one of my favorite books, ever. I first read it when I was a teenager, and eventually gave my dogeared copy to another teenager. I have bought and shared three or four copies over the years.

It is a unique book in that it is a fantasy story in which the protagonist is physically genderfluid, both male and female by turns. Also unique in my reading experience was that it was a book in which several of the characters are queer, and it was mainstream published, and nobody is treated as a stereotype. It’s about growing up in a world where you never quite fit in and in which love and sex are by turns magical and complicated and frightening.

I have recommended this book to many people, and it holds a special place in my heart, as girl who wore suits and hung out with boys in dresses. I might even say it’s like Tolkien for Queer kids.

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Posted by on June 15th, 2010 at 08:00 am

books, recommendations | 3 comments »

Recommendation: 100 Butches

kal recommends…


100 Butches
A book in the works

100 Butches is a book that Torontonian artist Elisha Lim is putting together. It’s full of drawings that are original in their simplicity, and offers snippets of butch-encounters, which come across much like entries from the artist’s personal diary. It’s a work in progress, but I can’t wait to read it all.

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Posted by on June 10th, 2010 at 04:00 pm

books, recommendations | 2 comments »

Recommendation: The Naked Civil Servant

nick recommends…


As a story about the struggle to be uniquely yourself, this autobiography by gay icon Quentin Crisp has few rivals. Both sad and immensely funny, The Naked Civil Servant tells the story of Quentin’s refusal to hide his homosexuality and flamboyant lifestyle.

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Posted by on June 2nd, 2010 at 04:00 pm

books, recommendations | 6 comments »

Recommendation: The Bone Doll’s Twin

Rachel recommends…


If you are into reading fantasy and horror, you’ll really enjoy the book. If you are into reading books that go against the gender norms, you’ll really enjoy this book. It’s quite a creative idea. The land where this novel takes place is ruled by warrior queens until an usurper king kills off the queen and any female heirs. To protect the rightful heir, two wizards do some dark magic with the female infant so that she has a male body. It’s quite scary and a little gory at times and definitely a page-turner. Best of all, there are sequels!

If you like fantasy with strong gay protagonists, check out Lynn Flewelling’s Nightrunner series. All her books are exciting and fabulously written!

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Posted by on May 3rd, 2010 at 08:00 am

books, recommendations | 3 comments »

Recommendation: Aiesu (IS)

A reader recommends…

Aiesu is a manga collection of short stories about intersexed individuals and their lives. All the stories have the characters making a safely ambiguous place for themselves in a highly gender binary world and it filled me with such warm, fuzzy feelings! Especially the story beginning at chapter 13 which is why I posted a link to that one. They’re all self-contained so it makes no difference where you start.

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Posted by on March 21st, 2010 at 04:00 pm

books, comics, recommendations, websites | 10 comments »

Recommendation: In the Image of Angels

Milo recommends…


This was one book where I didn’t have to try to cram myself into the stereotypical gender box in order to identify with the character I enjoyed most. Pronouns are not used at all when addressing Bailey, the main character. There are tons of bad romance novels, there are even a few gay and lesbian ones but there aren’t many about the relationships of individuals who live outside societal gender norms. Which is why this book rocks. This story follows the life of Bailey who is desperately trying to live beyond male or female, coming up against the backlash of societal norms, religion, and the federal government requiring the identity of male or female, while falling in and out of love. This is one genderforking fiction story you don’t want to miss out on.

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Posted by on January 26th, 2010 at 04:00 pm

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Recommendation: The Left Hand of Darkness

AgentRusco recommends…

left hand

I’m not through with it yet, but The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin deals very much with the issues of gender and sexuality. It is science fiction, taking place in the far future. The people of the planet have essentially no gender or fluid gender. It’s difficult to grasp, but a very clever study.

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Posted by on November 3rd, 2009 at 08:00 am

books, recommendations | 10 comments »

Interview with S. Bear Bergman (The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You)

I just had the privilege of interviewing the ever-charming and brilliant S. Bear Bergman, author of the newly released book of essays, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You.


I managed to get a copy of the book, and I need to tell you: it’s wonderful. It’s about life in the middle-ground of gender, and all the many ways the world around us hiccups as we try to live our lives. It’s encouraging and honest, and you should go buy it right now.  There are very few people out there who are telling our story well in a mainstream medium. But Bear is one of them.

Here’s the official spiel:

Alternately unsettling and affirming, devastating and delicious, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You is a new collection of essays on gender and identity by S. Bear Bergman that is irrevocably honest and endlessly illuminating. With humor and grace, these essays deal with issues from women’s spaces to the old boys’ network, from gay male bathhouses to lesbian potlucks, from being a child to preparing to have one. Throughout, S. Bear Bergman shows us there are things you learn when you’re visibly different from those around you—whether it’s being transgressively gendered or readably queer. As a transmasculine person, Bergman keeps readers breathless and rapt in the freakshow tent long after the midway has gone dark, when the good hooch gets passed around and the best stories get told. Ze offers unique perspectives on issues that challenge, complicate, and confound the “official stories” about how gender and sexuality work.

But getting to the juicy stuff…

Continue reading »

Posted by on October 29th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

books, recommendations | 4 comments »

Recommendation: Brain Gender

Elian recommends…

brain sex

I read this in a course last fall called “Gender, the Brain, and Behavior.” I remember it being pretty interesting, and touched on a lot of subjects. There are a lot of biological concepts in it, but it’s not too hard to understand. Also, if I remember, you don’t need to read it sequentially. Feel free to skip to chapters that interest you.

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Posted by on October 25th, 2009 at 08:00 am

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Recommendation: What Happened to Lani Garver

A reader recommends…

what happened to lani garver

This is a fantastic story, probably my favorite book of all time. It takes place in a small town, containing a limited population with limited openness. It unravels a tale about a young cancer victim named Claire and her encounter with a strange ‘boy’ named Lani. Eventually, the two become friends, and between a potential recurrence of Claire’s disease and the conflict between Lani and gay-bashing highschoolers, a beautiful, sad, and inspiring story reveals itself to the reader. It teaches a life-altering lesson: “be kind to everyone, because you never know when you’re meeting an angel.”

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Posted by on October 18th, 2009 at 08:00 am

books, recommendations | 8 comments »

Recommendation: Parrot Fish

Bryson recommends…

parrot fish

This is the transgender answer to “Annie on My Mind,” only better. It is remarkably truthful and well researched to boot. The story is a first person narrative from a high school trans boy named Grady. The story picks up shortly after Grady came out to his parents and friends and follows Grady as he navigates school, family, and the holidays while continuing to define himself. Don’t discount it just because it’s YA fiction. It’s worth the read and even a decent, approachable, crash course on trans issues for uncertain grownups.

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Posted by on October 12th, 2009 at 04:00 pm

books, recommendations | 4 comments »

Recommendation: Myths of Gender

A reader recommends…

Myths of Gender

This book sort of rips the idea of masculinity and femininity a new one by picking apart their scientific basis: the idea of a biologically masculine or feminine brain (not in the sense of a brain of someone who naturally identifies as male or female, but a brain with “male” or “female” skills or perceptions). It’s a little dated by this point but it’s still a great antidote to a lot of the books out there on “brain sex.”

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Posted by on October 6th, 2009 at 08:00 am

books, recommendations | 1 comment »

Recommendation: Freak Show

P.J. recommends…

Freak Show

Freak Show by James St. James tells the story of a young drag queen thrown into a conservative high school. This book breaks gender stereotypes in several different ways. It’s a great read, especially for teenagers or young adults interested in genderqueer subjects. Billy Bloom, the protagonist, is referred to using both male and female pronouns throughout the book.
By running for homecoming queen, Billy’s classmates really learn about discrimination, judgment, and even gender stereotypes. James St. James, who is a fantastic writer, teaches the reader that gender doesn’t have to fit into a certain label. Read this book.

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Posted by on July 14th, 2009 at 08:00 am

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