What is the Transgender Day of Remembrance?
The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith as a vigil to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The vigil commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year and began an important memorial that has become the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
“The Transgender Day of Remembrance seeks to highlight the losses we face due to anti-transgender bigotry and violence. I am no stranger to the need to fight for our rights, and the right to simply exist is first and foremost. With so many seeking to erase transgender people — sometimes in the most brutal ways possible — it is vitally important that those we lose are remembered, and that we continue to fight for justice.”
– Transgender Day of Remembrance founder Gwendolyn Ann Smith
Listed below are books that will help provide insight into the experiences of the trans community:
Trans Britain: our journey from the shadows
edited by Christine Burns MBE
Summary: Over the last five years, transgender people have seemed to burst into the public eye. From our television screens to the ballot box, transgender had suddenly become part of the zeitgeist. This apparently overnight emergence, though, is just the latest stage in a long and varied history. The renown of Paris Lees and Hari Nef has its roots in the efforts of those who fought for equality before them but were met with apathy – and often outright hostility – from mainstream society. ‘Trans Britain’ chronicles this journey in the words of those who were there to witness a once invisible community grow into the powerful movement we recognise today: activists, film-makers, parents, broadcasters, an actress, a rock musician and a priest, among many others.
If I was your girl
by Meredith Russo
Amanda Hardy is the new girl at school. Like everyone, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is holding back. Even from Grant, the guy she’s falling in love with. Amanda has a secret. At her old school, she used to be called Andrew. And secrets always have a way of getting out.
Amateur: a true story about what makes a man
by Thomas Page McBee
Summary: In this volume, Thomas Page McBee, a trans man, trains to fight in a charity match at Madison Square Garden while struggling to untangle the vexed relationship between masculinity and violence. Through his experience of boxing – learning to get hit, and to hit back; wrestling with the camaraderie of the gym; confronting the betrayals and strength of his own body – McBee examines the weight of male violence, the pervasiveness of gender stereotypes and the limitations of conventional masculinity.
Beautiful music for ugly children
by Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Publishers Group UK, 2012.
Summary: Gabe has always identified as a boy, but he was born with a girl’s body. With his new public access radio show gaining in popularity, Gabe struggles with romance, friendships, and parents – all while trying to come out as transgendered. An audition for a station in Minneapolis looks like his ticket to a better life in the big city. But his entire future is threatened when several violent guys find out Gabe the popular DJ is also Elizabeth from school.
by iO Tillett Wright
Summary: It was a tenement building at the centre of the drug-addled, punk-edged, permanent riot that was iO’s corner of the Lower East Side of New York City in the ’80s and 90’s. There iO grew up – or rather scrabbled up – under the broken wing of a fiercely protective, yet wildly negligent mother. Rhonna was a showgirl, actress, dancer, poet. A widow by police murder, she was also an addict. She doted and obsessed over iO, yet lacked an understanding that a child needs food and sleep and safety. Unfolding in animated, crystalline prose, this is an emotionally raw, devastatingly powerful memoir of one young person’s extraordinary coming of age – a tale of gender and identity, freedom and addiction, rebellion and survival in the 1980s and 1990s, when punk poverty, heroin and art collided in the urban bohemia of New York’s Lower East Side.
The days of Anna Madrigal
by Armistead Maupin
Summary: ‘The Days of Anna Madrigal’, the suspenseful, comic, and touching ninth novel in Armistead Maupin’s bestselling ‘Tales of the City’ series, follows one of modern literature’s most unforgettable and enduring characters – Anna Madrigal, the legendary transgender landlady of 28 Barbary Lane – as she embarks on a road trip that takes her deep into her past.
The girl in the green dress
by Cath Staincliffe
Summary: How far would you go to protect your child? Can you really keep them safe? What if who they are puts them at risk? And what if they have blood on their hands? Teenager Allie Kennaway heads off for prom night, cheered on by her dad Steve and little sister Teagan. But Allie never comes home, beaten to death in an apparent hate crime because of her transgender identity. As police investigate the brutal murder, a crime that has appalled the country, one parent is at her wit’s end with her son’s behaviour. Are his outbursts and silences hiding something much darker than adolescent mood swings? And if her suspicions are correct, then what does she do? Another parent will fight tooth and nail to save his boy from the full force of the law. After all, blood is thicker than water and everyone should look after their own. But if he succeeds then Allie and her family will never get the justice they deserve.
by Ami Polonsky
Summary: Grayson Sender has been holding onto a secret for what seems like forever: ‘he’ is a girl on the inside, stuck in the wrong gender’s body. The weight of this secret is crushing, but sharing it would mean facing ridicule, scorn, rejection or worse. Despite the risks, Grayson’s true self itches to break free. Will new strength from an unexpected friendship and a caring teacher’s wisdom be enough to help Grayson step into the spotlight she was born to inhabit?
The house on Half Moon Street
by Alex Reeve
Raven Books, 2018.
Summary: Leo Stanhope. Avid chess player; assistant to a London coroner; in love with Maria; and hiding a very big secret. For Leo was born Charlotte, the daughter of a respectable reverend. But knowing he was meant to be a man – despite the evidence of his body – and unable to cope with living a lie any longer, he fled his family home at just 15 and has been living as Leo: his secret known to only a few trusted people. But then Maria is found dead and Leo is accused of her murder. Desperate to find her killer and under suspicion from all those around him, he stands to lose not just the woman he loves, but his freedom and, ultimately, his life.
I am Jazz
by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings
Dial Books for Young Readers, 
Summary: From the time she was two years old, Jazz Jennings knew that she had a girl’s brain in a boy’s body. She loved pink and dressing up as a mermaid and didn’t feel like herself in boys’ clothing. This confused her family, until they took her to a doctor who said that Jazz was transgender and that she was born that way. Jazz’s story is based on her real-life experience and she tells it in a simple, clear way that will be appreciated by picture book readers, their parents, and teachers.
Man alive: a true story of violence, forgiveness and becoming a man
by Thomas Page McBee
Summary: If he is to become a man, what sort of man should Thomas Page McBee be? To find out, McBee must confront the suffering he has endured at the hands of men: the abuse he endured as a child from his father and the violent mugging which almost killed him as an adult. Standing at the brink of the life-changing decision to transition from female to male, McBee seeks to understand these examples of flawed manhood, and reclaim his body on his own terms.
The new girl: a trans girl tells it like it is
by Rhyannon Styles
Summary: Elle columnist Rhyannon Styles tells her unforgettable life story in this memoir, reflecting on her past and charting her incredible journey from male to female. Imagine feeling lost in your own body. Imagine spending years living a lie, denying what makes you ‘you’. This was Ryan’s reality. He had to choose: die as a man or live as a woman. In 2012, Ryan chose Rhyannon. At the age of 30 Rhyannon began her transition, taking the first steps on the long road to her true self, and the emotional, physical and psychological journey that would change her for ever. In a time when the world is finally waking up to transgender people, Rhyannon opens up to us, holding nothing back in this heartbreakingly honest telling of her life.
The new woman
by Charity Norman
Allen & Unwin, 2015.
Summary: What would you do if you found that your husband, your father, your son – was not who you thought? Could you ever love him again?
The secrets of my life
by Caitlyn Jenner with Buzz Bissinger
Summary: ‘The Secrets of My Life’ looks at Caitlyn Jenner’s childhood as Bruce Jenner and rise to fame as a gold-medal-winning Olympic decathlete; her marriages and her relationships with her children; her transition; and her experience as the world’s most famous transgender woman.
This is how it always is
by Laurie Frankel
Headline Review, 2018.
Summary: Rosie and Penn always wanted a daughter. Four sons later, they decide to try one last time – and their beautiful little boy Claude is born. Life continues happily for this big, loving family until the day when Claude says that, when he grows up, he wants to be a girl. As far as Rosie and Penn are concerned, bright, funny and wonderful Claude can be whoever he or she wants. But as problems begin at school and in the community, the family faces a seemingly impossible dilemma: should Claude change, or should they and Claude try to change the world?
I am J
by Cris Beam
Headline Review, 2018.
Summary: J always felt different. He was certain that eventually everyone would understand who he really was, a boy mistakenly born as a girl. Yet as he grew up, his body began to betray him. Eventually J stopped praying to wake up a ‘real boy’ and started covering up his body.
Not just a tomboy
by Caspar J. Baldwin
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2019.
Summary: This is the story of one trans man’s exploration of gender identity, set against changing cultural attitudes from the 90s to the present day.
Caspar Baldwin grew up in a time when being trans was not widely accepted by society, and though progress has been made since then, trans men are still underrepresented and misunderstood. Grappling with the messy realities of gender expectations while giving a stark and moving account of his own experiences, Baldwin grants a nuanced understanding of what it’s like to be a trans boy or man.
With its unflinching portrayal of the vulnerability, confusion, dysphoria, empowerment, peace and joy that are all part of the transition process, this book provides an invaluable support for trans men and is a memoir that breaks the mould.