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Friday, July 18, 2014

"Trans Bodies, Trans Selves: A Resource For The Transgender Community"

"Fresh Air" With Terry Gross: "Trans Bodies, Trans Selves"
Please click on the above link to listen the "Fresh Air" podcast audio.
A Resource for the Transgender Community by Laura Erickson-Schroth 
The growing number of people who identify as transgender is raising a lot of interesting and complicated questions about gender identity.
The new book, Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, is a collection of essays describing the varied experiences of transgender people — and the social, political and medical issues they face. It's written by and for transgender and gender-nonconforming people.
The idea was inspired by the groundbreaking 1970's feminist health manual Our Bodies, Ourselves.
That book "was put together ... by a group of women who ... weren't getting the care that they needed from what was mostly male physicians at the time," the book's editor, Laura Erickson-Schroth, tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "And so they put together this really radical book that included topics like abortion and rape and lesbian identity. And this was something that I thought we could duplicate — something that was written by and for trans people about all aspects of life."
On discovering their transgender identities
Jennifer Finney Boylan: Another word that's good to know, and this word is relatively new to me anyway, is cisgender, which means not transgender. In some ways, cisgender is to trans as straight is to gay.
We used to say "not transgender" as if "not transgender" was the norm and transgender was where the trouble came in. But to think that cisgender and transgender are both two different ways of being human that are equally acceptable and fine, I think it's helpful because it also helps us to think that transgender people are human and normal, and should be defined according to who they are and not in terms of what they're not.
Finney Boylan: The first person that I had a conversation [with] about [trans issues] was a psychologist in New York after college. So I was in my 20s, and of course the first psychologist that I talked to knew less about what it meant to be trans than I did. So, in fact, he not only gave me information that was not helpful — he gave me information that was wrong. In some ways [it] delayed my ability to address my troubles [for] years.
Jennifer Finney Boylan, who wrote the introduction, is the author of several books, including Stuck in the Middle with You: A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders.
On how hormones affected their transgender identities
Key: Even [more] than the physical manifestations [from testosterone] was the relief I felt. It was coming home, so to speak. I felt, finally, that the way that I was responding, the way that I was engaging in life, the way I felt in myself finally fit. ... It did feel like, "Finally, here I am."
Aidan Key wrote the chapter about gender-nonconforming children. He says he had a very clear moment when he was 9 years old that he was transgender, but "there was no cultural context" for it.

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