September 21, 2015

12 Essential Books on Transgender

Here's another look at my transgender bookshelf. This time I present books on transgender and queer topics in general.
Illustration by Olyzel

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, by Julia Serano.

Serano has become our leading trans philosophers. This book is of special interest to MTF crossdreamers, as she is one of the trans activists that openly discuss crossdreaming in a non-stigmatizing way.

A fascinating discussion of the the transgender history of ideas, not only in the US, but also in Europe. Most of the models of transgender we find among activists and researchers these days were there 100 years ago.

The transgender phenomenon, by Richard Ekins, Dave King.
    Magnus Hirschfeld
A sociological approach to transgender. Includes a discussion of the autogynephilia theory.

Transvestites: The Erotic Drive To Cross Dress (New Concepts in Human Sexuality), by Magnus Hirschfeld.

This book was originally published in Germany in 1910. It remains one of the best books on crossdressing and transsexuality, written with empathy and a deep respect for the life journeys of the transgender persons he presents. Please note that for Hirschfeld the term "transvestite" is an umbrella term for all shades of transgender.

The Transsexual Phenomenon, by Harry Benjamin

Harry Benjamin followed in the footsteps of his teacher Magnus Hirschfeld, basing his studies of crossdressers, crossdreamers and trans women on  empathy and a wish to help. His model has unfortunately been used to put up a  fence between crossdressers and trans women, sorting them into "fetishists" and "real" trans women. That was not what he set out to do

Whipping Girl, with a trans-positive
view of crossdreaming
Transgender History, by Susan Stryker

The fascinating story about transgender activism and its interface with the medical community. Stryker is an associate professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Arizona,

Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein

A radical approach to sex, gender and gender identity. This book has meant a lot for the development of the modern understanding of sex and gender.

Finding the Real Me: True Tales of Sex and Gender Diversity, Tracie O'Keefe  and Katrina Fox  (editors)

Fascinating collection of transgender life stories. By the way Tracie O'Keefe was one of the first to document FTM crossdreamers.

Some might argue that Bevan is too uncritical in his acceptance of medical and biological research into transgender. Maybe, but the book gives a very good overview of of the such research, and he argues convincingly for genetic, epigenetic and hormonal factors influencing the development of gender identity.

The amazing biography of a trans woman who does not hide the dark sides of  transgender and who insists on including all in the transgender family.

The fascinating life story of a so-called "late onset"  transsexual woman.

Excluded, by Julia Serano

This book has a somewhat narrower focus than Whipping Girl, and some of the readers of this blog might find that a debate of trans women being excluded from feminist spaces somewhat irrelevant to their own lives. Still, by discussing this topic she sheds light on all types of social exclusion and how it is used to force people into the traditional roles of gender and sexuality.
In the next part I will present books on sex and gender in general.

Please add a comment if there are other books you have found helpful and interesting. I will add them to the permanent list of trans-relevant books.

See also part 1 in this series, which covers books on crossdreaming and crossdressing.


  1. I got this tweet with suggestions from Jonathan ‏@malefemme:

    @jackmolay a few more suggestions: Patrick Califia - Sex Changes; Leslie Feinberg - Transgender Warriors; Matt Kailey - Just Add Hormones

    These are all good ones!

  2. Jonathan ‏@malefemme
    @jackmolay I also like: Max Wolf Valerio - The Testosterone Files; Riki Wilchins - Read My Lips :)

  3. drewcordes over at reddit makes the following comment:

    "Uh, where is Stone Butch Blues? If I had to recommend just one book to someone about transness, it is that one. Top of every list in my opinion."

    Stone Butch Blues is a novel by Leslie Feinberg.

  4. One of these days, I'll get off my rear and read some of this stuff.

  5. Also, Jack, warn me next time before you put something of mine on Reddit! I was like, WHOA! This morning at the bump in views. LOL

  6. I have linked to your post on wordpress, tumblr and twitter as well.

    I warn you, this can happen again :)

  7. Take a read of "At Last! Free to be Me" recently published by Robbie Dee Ewens. Available at and on Kindle.

  8. Good tip! I have downloaded it to my Kindle. Hopefully I will find to read it soon!



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