Transgender Day of Remembrance 2020

What is the Transgender Day of Remembrance?

The Transgender Day of Remembrance was started by transgender advocate Gwendolyn Ann Smith to honour the memory of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed in 1998. The first event commemorated all the transgender people lost to violence that year, it has become a day to commemorate and remember the lives lost by those who have never felt safe, content or happy in the body in which they were born.

I dare to dream of a world where people can dress, speak, and behave how they want, free from mockery, derision, judgment, harassment, and danger.

Juno Dawson

There has been, and continues to be, those who fight against a person’s right to change their body. The truth of it is, that there are people, humans, who are born with a body they feel uncomfortable with. A body they can’t stand. A body they would rather mutilate then living with.

Historically we have been taught that gender is defined by physiology, with females having two X chromosomes whilst males have X and Y chromosomes, but the World Health Organisation explains that it’s not always that simple:

Most women are 46XX and most men are 46XY. Research suggests, however, that in a few births per thousand some individuals will be born with a single sex chromosome (45X or 45Y) (sex monosomies) and some with three or more sex chromosomes (47XXX, 47XYY or 47XXY, etc.) (sex polysomies). In addition, some males are born 46XX due to the translocation of a tiny section of the sex determining region of the Y chromosome. Similarly some females are also born 46XY due to mutations in the Y chromosome. Clearly, there are not only females who are XX and males who are XY, but rather, there is a range of chromosome complements, hormone balances, and phenotypic variations that determine sex.

https://www.who.int/genomics/gender/en/index1.html


Accepting others and allowing them to be happy, does not make you or your view of yourself any less valid. Reading books can give us the knowledge and empathy to understand ourselves and others.

We have created a list of 11 titles that look at transgender lives, either through real stories or fiction. These are a great place to start if you are unsure what transgender is, what it means and even if you are worried that your identity might be taken away.


Trans Love: An Anthology of Transgender and Non-Binary Voices
by Freiya Benson

Adult Non-Fiction
COMING SOON as physical book

Covering all types of love, including spiritual love, self-love and friendship, this intimate, deeply passionate and radical book reclaims what love means to trans people.

My Brother’s Name is Jessica
by John Boyne

Teen Fiction
Available as eBooks, eAudiobook and physical book

Sam Waver’s life has always been pretty quiet. A bit of a loner, he struggles to make friends, and his busy parents often make him feel invisible. Luckily for Sam, his older brother, Jason, has always been there for him. Sam idolises Jason, who seems to have life sorted – he’s kind, popular, amazing at football, and girls are falling over themselves to date him. But then one evening Jason calls his family together to tell them that he’s been struggling with a secret for a long time. A secret which quickly threatens to tear them all apart. His parents don’t want to know and Sam simply doesn’t understand. Because what do you do when your brother says he’s not your brother at all? That he thinks he’s actually your sister?

One in Every Crowd
By Ivan Coyote

Young Adult Non-Fiction
Available as eBook

Comprised of original stories and a hand-picked selection of Coyote’s best work, this collection is aimed at young adults. Included are stories from Ivan’s own tomboy past, where playing hockey and wearing pants were the norm; and her adult life in the big city, where she encounters both cruelty and kindness in unexpected places.

Uncomfortable Labels: My Life as a Gay Autistic Trans Woman
by Laura Kate Dale

Adult Non-Fiction
COMING SOON as physical book

Being LGBT and having autism is actually fairly common and yet often misinterpreted. This groundbreaking first-hand account uses personal experiences from birth to late diagnosis to explore this connection, and the nuances of both gender identity and ASD. Looking at everyday struggles faced by the author, such as learning feminine presentation through observation of subtle cues due to her autism, issues around sensory processing and LGBT spaces, socially difficult situations exacerbated by gender identity, and even coming out as trans during an autistic meltdown, this gives a unique insight into the links between autism, sexuality and gender. Split into three sections, it begins with life prior to transition and diagnosis, moving on to the years of self-discovery and finally shows the upsides and downsides of being autistic and on the LGBT spectrum.

Freshwater
by Akwaeke Emezi

Adult Fiction
Available as eBooks and physical book

An extraordinary debut novel exploring the metaphysics of identity and mental health, centering on a young Nigerian woman as she struggles to reconcile the proliferation of multiple selves within her.

George
by Alex Gino

Children’s Fiction
Available as eBooks, eAudiobook and physical book

A bright, bold debut about a girl who happens to have been born a boy but refuses to let that stand in the way of her dream, ‘George’ is a pertinent and poignant middle-grade read for kids of all backgrounds. George was Alex Gino’s first novel. George was a winner of the Children’s Stonewall Award, the Lambda Literary Award and the Children’s Choice Book Awards.

Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
by Andrea Lawlor

Adult Fiction
Available as eBook, eAudiobook and physical book

It’s 1993 and Paul Polydoris tends bar at the only gay club in a university town thrumming with politics and partying. He studies queer theory, has a dyke best friend, makes zines, and is a flâneur with a rich dating life. But Paul’s also got a secret: he’s a shapeshifter. Oscillating wildly from Riot Grrrl to leather cub, women’s studies major to trade, Paul transforms his body at will in a series of adventures that take him from Iowa City to Boystown to Provincetown and finally to San Francisco – a journey through the deep queer archives of struggle and pleasure. Andrea Lawlor’s debut novel offers a speculative history of early 90s identity politics during the heyday of ACT UP and Queer Nation.

Birthday
by Meredith Russo

Young Adult Fiction
Available as eBook and physical book

Meet Morgan and Eric: born on the same day, at the same time and bonded for life. In this moving dual narrative, we meet them every birthday from the age of 13, as Eric figures out who he is, as Morgan decides to live as her true self, and as they realise they are inextricably part of each other.

I’m Afraid of Men
by Vivek Shraya

Adult Non-Fiction
Available as eBook and eAudiobook

Toxic masculinity takes many insidious forms, from misogyny and sexual harassment to homophobia, transphobia and bullying. Vivek Shraya has first-hand experience with nearly all of them. As a transwomen she grew up experiencing aggression for displaying femininity, and is haunted by the violence of men. ‘I’m Afraid of Men’ is a culmination of the years Vivek spent observing men and creating her own version of manhood. Through deeply personal reflection, she offers a rare and multifaceted perspective on gender and a hopeful reimagining of masculinity at a time when it’s needed more than ever.

Non-Binary Lives
Edited by Jos Twist

Adult Non-Fiction
COMING SOON as physical book

This wide-ranging and powerful collection of essays gathers together leading non-binary figures to explore how their gender identities intersect with multiple aspects of other identities including race, class, age, sexuality, faith, community, family, disability and health.

The Art of Being Normal
By Lisa Williamson

Young Adult Fiction
Available as eBook and physical book

David is funny and quirky and has always felt different from other people – but he also has a huge secret that only his two best friends know. Ever since he can remember, he has felt like a girl trapped in the body of a boy.

If you would like to learn more about transgender rights and lives, we can recommend these pages:

Stonewall; acceptance without exceptions
GenderTrust.org.uk
Mermaids UK
NHS

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