Reviewed by Sage Brook~

This is a guide to American transgender history primarily taking us from 1800, through World War II, and up to 2016. It covers the major movements, writings and events that shape today’s gender revolution. The author is a trans-sexual lesbian and historian and has been a participant in the movement for nearly twenty years. She shares some of her personal struggles involving discrimination and homo-phobia.

I found the details informative including the myriad of terms related to transgender. This was especially helpful with distinguishing between gender expression, gender identity, gender dysphoria, and intersex. Gender-neutral pronouns were discussed making the reader better understand some of the controversies related to these.

The early US history of discrimination, starting in the 1850s involving outlawing cross-dressing increased the marginalization of the transgender population. Early pioneers involved in organizing support for transgender people met with tremendous obstacles and conflicts with other movements, especially the woman’s rights movement and the gay rights movement. Fierce fighting in the 1960s, especially in San Francisco, led to harsher discriminating police practices.

The struggle remains for transgender-rights activists. Divisions continue to exist between homo-normative gays and lesbians and trans and gender-non-conforming people, but there is some hope with universities starting to offer transgender study courses.

I personally found the information helpful, but this is not a quick-read book. The illustrations helped make the long narratives a bit easier to digest, and I did gain a better understanding of the multiple obstacles toward equality for a portion of society that doesn’t neatly fit into any current feminist, black or gay rights’ movement. It has made me more conscious of how I address sensitive issues in my current midwifery profession. I would recommend the book to educate anyone about the complexity of gender issues.