I saw this post by Alex Bayley and realised this whole blog has become a little like an Annotated Bibliography of the Inside of My Head. I thought I would share some books I love and have mentioned one or several times on here before, but also include a few I haven’t yet mentioned. So many of these books are ones I literally carried with me for quite a while after I had finished them so that I could bring it out in conversations, so I guess I am kind of a walking bibliography. There is also some overlap with this Transgender Warriors trans masc summer reading list.
by Michelle Dicinoski
This text was my gaytway to Australian queer history. I was reading a lot of memoirs around the time I first read it and loved the way Dicinoski weaved memoir, local and family histories, and queer histories together. I am pretty sure they were read as lesbians by the author, but I found trans possibilities in Bill Edwards (“The Boy Barmaid“) and Edward De Lacy Evans in this book. It was also one of the first times I read something that got me hooked on history as I had been pretty disengaged from history education thanks to school… and perhaps even the first time I experienced a kind of Archive Fever…. I did start studying Information Management to become a librarian or archivist shortly after reading it.
by Jordy Rosenberg
I’ve already written about where Confessions of the Fox has taken me this year but had to include it again as I really haven’t been able to get it out of my head all year. It helped me discover my new favourite genre: historical metafiction. I love the idea of drawing on queer, trans, anti-racist, anti-imperialist and more theories to imagine different possibilities and create fiction. There’s a resources list at the end so you can continue the conversation the book started.
by cn lester
cn lester weaves together their lived experiences with legal, theoretical, media, and pop culture analyses in this collection of essays. It’s a really good, accessible book to share with friends, colleagues, and/or family members who want to better understand trans and gender diverse peoples’ experiences. Some particular highlights for me include the essay “Are Trans People Real?” which vividly and eloquently captures how this question and ideas that trans women are fake women and trans men are fake men have shaped legal, medical and community attitudes towards, understandings of, and experiences of trans and gender diverse people, and the essay “Trans Feminisms” in which lester reads Roxanne Gay’s Bad Feminist alongside TERF Sheila Jeffreys’ Gender Hurts. I also recommend listening to this interview with cn lester on the podcast NB.
by Andrea Lawlor
Although the main character, Paul, is a bit of a jerk and as such the book isn’t always easy to read, there were many moments of this book that have stuck with me- particularly when he found someone who was able to change genders like him, and also the lists of moments when he realised he was gay and trans. I loved being immersed in 90s queer theory and culture, making zines, listening to punk and post-punk music, and walking around cities alongside Paul. You can listen to this playlist prepared by the author (who is non-binary) as you read.
by Nevo Zisin
Finding Nevo is an autobiography by Nevo Zisin who is a young transmasculine, non-binary and queer activist and writer. It was so excellent and important: beautifully written, heartbreaking, empowering and insightful. It has made me think a lot and has stayed with me since finished it a few years ago, and I’ve since seen Zisin talk in real life quite a bit, including at MPOW. I am so grateful to them for sharing their journey: their pain, anxiety, dysphoria, communities, support, love and joy. I recommend this book to anyone who is struggling to find their place and a sense of community in society without conforming to the boxes it tries to put us in. I feel like I’ve only quite recently begun to do this and feel comfortable in my own non-conforming skin and, honestly, I am in awe of Zisin. I loved that they dedicated this book to LGBTIQA+ community elders to acknowledge past struggles, victories and leaders, and that they provided a list of queer and feminists writers, activists and performers who have inspired them for readers to follow up on and continue the journey. They’ve presented at lots of local libraries too.
by Leslie Feinberg
It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but this book is very moving and powerful and definitely stayed with me and I think I’ll revisit it soon, particularly after reading Confessions of the Fox as I feel both had similar political influences using very different time periods and settings. Feinberg was a self-described “revolutionary communist” – a political activist, specifically a Marxist, union organizer, and member of the Workers World Party, and this definitely shaped the book. It is very dark with lots of homophobia, transphobia, classism and anti-Semitism faced by the protagonist, but it vividly illustrates the power of political activism, love, and gender exploration and transformation.
There are many more books I haven’t listed, including everything by Ivan Coyote, and about three books I have on the go at the moment that I think will stay with me, once I manage to finish them, so I’m sure this won’t be the last annotated bibliography of the inside of my head.
Some of those books I’m currently reading:
We Both Laughed In Pleasure: The Selected Diaries of Lou Sullivan 1961-1991 edited by Ellis Martin and Zach Ozma – Find out more in this Transgender warriors podcast summer reading list
Time is the Thing A Body Moves Through: An Essay by T Fleischmann