Sunday, June 14, 2015

Books and Transgender

There is increasing attention in the media to the transgender community and to transgender individuals; examples include such television shows as “Orange is the New Black” and “Transparent,” and most recently the publicity about -- and Vanity Fair cover and article about -- Caitlyn Jenner, formerly the famous Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner. This is a welcome development, but much more education and support is needed on this topic. I was pleased to see (in a New York Times article published in the San Francisco Chronicle on 6/7/15) that there are now a few children’s books on this topic. Until very recently, this was extremely rare, “the last taboo” according to the article, but now there have been several memoirs, self-help books, and novels. This year, according to the article, “children’s publishers are releasing around half a dozen novels…that star transgender children and teenagers.” As an example of how important such books can be, the article tells the story of Sam Martin, who 23 years ago was browsing in a bookstore and ran across portraits and interviews of transgender men. Martin started crying; “I thought, my God, I’m not the only one...When I was growing up, I never saw people like me in movies or books.” Soon after, Martin started transitioning from female to male, and now has written a story about a transgender teenage boy. To me, this is yet another powerful example of the power and necessity of books that portray the full range of the variety of human lives and experiences.
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