By Kirstin Cronn-Mills
Available now from Twenty-First Century Books
TRANSGENDER LIVES: COMPLEX VOICES, COMPLEX STORIES is a brief introduction to trans* and genderqueer issues, history, terminology, and experiences. When I say brief, I mean less than a hundred pages. It is a topic that could easily fill a much larger book, so some sections are short-changed.
I would say the history section is most disappointing. Author Kristin Cronn-Mills really reaches, throwing in any bit and person of history that is slightly non-gender conforming. Given the limited page space, I think the section would've benefited from a tighter focus.
Where TRANSGENDER LIVES shines are the sections based on individual's accounts of their own lives. The people interviewed vary in age quite a bit, which is nice, but don't really vary in race. Each person prefers different terminology and has a very different personal history and relationship with their body, which was fascinating to read about. Fans of these sections should read BEYOND MAGENTA.
I also liked the little facts that are sprinkled throughout the other sections and the discussion of terminology. The vocabulary is changing all the time, and no doubt TRANSGENDER LIVES will soon be outdated in that respect. But how and why the language changes is truly interesting.
TRANSGENDER LIVES is a nice little introduction, sure to be helpful to teens struggling with their identity and families seeking to learn more to support them. More in-depth books are needed, but that doesn't mean there isn't also a need for something as approachable as this slender volume.