Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Saturday, August 8, 2009


When I grew up back in the '60's and '70's, I didn't know that transgenderism existed. Not only was the ranch in Wyoming isolated from that kind of information, our entire culture buried it. The media never mentioned such phenomena. No books, especially children's or young adult's, reflected it. Trans people existed neither in fact nor fiction, and that isolation shut me off from any hope of understanding why I was different from my peers, and what that difference was.

Things have changed since then. A plethora of books have emerged, explaining the phenomenon of trangenderism from a variety of viewpoints. A list of some of them adorns the bottom of this webpage. Yet as much as these informational books clarify, they do not bring my experience to the mainstream with the power of fiction. The reason they do not is this: Non-fiction reveals facts; fiction reveals truth. Non-fiction explains intellectually; fiction explains viscerally. True understanding of another human being cannot come through the intellect; it must be experienced viscerally, emotionally. And while much fiction is void of that visceral truth, much also is not.

That's a rather long lead-in to this short review, but, I think, important. Because Julie Anne Peters, a lesbian author in Colorado, has written just such a book. Titled "Luna," the story of a young trans woman coming of age, told through the eyes of her sister, illuminates the trans experience. Written for young adults and told realistically, it makes the experience of people like me accessible to all – and most especially, to young people of the age when my own confusion and isolation were more than I could bear. That confusion and isolation led directly to drug and alcohol abuse and an emotional shut-down that took many years to overcome.

Had this book been available to me, had I read it then, how many things could have been different?

It's a moot point. What's done is done, and I now have a rich, fulfilling life. Had I transitioned earlier, I would not have my two beautiful sons, nor would I have the lovely relationship I share with Kristin. I regret nothing for myself.

But I am very glad that this resource is available to young people today.

Luna. Buy it. Read it.


CrackerLilo said...

I am so glad a book like this exists. It'll be great when more follow. I'm still waiting on a good bisexual book for young adults, and I'm well out of that demographic. Perhaps I ought to write it. My grandfather never let us say a phrase like "Somebody ought to..." without responding, "Ain't you somebody?" Simply stated, but a powerful challenge.

I have told over and over again the story of how just finding the word "bisexual" in a dictionary when I intended to look up another word helped me when I was 14, in 1988. Just to know that someone needed to make up that word and put it in a dictionary was powerful. That meant there had to be others who came before me, others alongside me, and others who'd come after me.

I would suggest to anyone reading who has just a little money that it might be nice to buy a copy of this book and donate it to a local library. LGBT books are regularly stolen from libraries by curious teens who are afraid that their parents will find out if they check out the books. So it's good to help replenish the stock. In more conservative areas, this also gives the librarian an easy out when the book is challenged--"Oh, it was donated!"

Seda said...

Time to get the pen out! When you've got that book written, let me know. ;-)

That's a good idea about buying the books and donating them to the library. It's so true - just the evidence that we are not alone, that other people share the same condition we have, is so important in this culture that tries to make us invisible.

Screw that. I refuse to be invisible.

Oh, and BTW, did I tell you I'm passing most of the time now? :-)

CrackerLilo said...

Congratulations, Seda!

Actually, I am currently working on a sci-fi novel with steampunk and dystopian overtones. (Oh, and a few decent bisexual characters.)Because the world needs more of those. But I have other ideas itching in the back of my brain, many of which involve making a good YA novel about a bi kid happen.

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our