FART Recommendations: Six Memoirs by Trans Authors
I hope you’ve been following along with our year-long reading challenge, Folks All Reading Together, a.k.a. FART. For June’s theme, we’re reading books with trans protagonists, so here are six memoirs by trans authors that will help you complete the challenge.
Sissy by Jacob Tobia
Growing up, Jacob Tobia was given a lot of labels. “Sissy” was one of them. But as they eschewed more and more of the expectations thrust on them as a person assigned male at birth (particularly the dreaded cargo shorts), Tobia began to use the word “sissy” with pride – that and a lot of other words, like “trans,” “gay,” and “non-binary.” Through this hilarious and vulnerable revisit to their past and a look at the future of the gender revolution they are a big part of, Tobia asks us to re-examine gender, stereotypes, and inclusivity.
Trans by Juliet Jacques
In 2012, Juliet Jacques underwent gender confirmation surgery and chronicled the process in a national newspaper column. Trans takes a look at that time but also at the rest of Jacques’s life – from her post-university plunge into the world of writing to her role in the modern conversation on gender politics. At once honest and self-deprecating, Jacques’s memoir blends together her personal experiences with a political conversation.
Tomboy Survival Guide by Ivan E. Coyote
A celebrated Canadian storyteller, Ivan Coyote takes a look at their own past in the memoir Tomboy Survival Guide. Sometimes funny, sometimes moving, and often both, Coyote writes about their experiences as a tomboy growing up, as a young butch, and as an adult for whom gender boxes and labels never quite fit. They offer advice to those struggling with similar experiences while simultaneously mapping their own journey to self-acceptance and strength.
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom
Eye-catching, exciting, and at least partly true, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars is a fictionalized memoir by Kai Cheng Thom. It’s the story of a young Asian trans girl named Dearly, who also happens to be a pathological liar and kung-fu expert. After running away from her parents’ abusive home in a perpetually raining city called Gloom, Dearly finds a new family in a group of trans femmes in a mysterious pleasure district called the Street of Miracles. When one of their number is brutally murdered, Dearly and the rest form a vigilante gang who strikes back against transphobes, cops, and violent Johns. Both dark and humorous, Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars uses dreamlike writing and sharp truths to catch you from the first sentence to the end.
My Life Is No Accident by Tenika Watson
Tenika Watson’s memoir, My Life Is No Accident, spans nearly five decades of her life. It starts with her childhood and the abuse she endured and continues on past the 1980s when she had found stability and success as a model and performer in Philadelphia. Her life was changed forever, though, when she met famed singer Teddy Pendergrass and was offered a ride home. As he was driving, the brakes on his car failed, and they crashed into a tree. Pendergrass was paralyzed for life, and Watson was propelled to the front page of the newspaper, where it was revealed that she was trans. After many years of speculation about who she is, Watson now comes forward with her own words and an account of a life full of love, resilience, and strength.
Sorted by Jackson Bird
Jackson Bird came out to his friends, family, and the internet at 25. Sorted details his life growing up assigned female at birth, navigating his transition, and coming to terms with both his gender and his bisexual identity. As a Harry Potter fan himself, Bird’s story is a great one for anyone questioning their own identity or looking for some guidance as they (or someone they know) transition. Peppered with both journal entries and careful explanations of trans terms and concepts, Sorted is compassionate, accessible, and beautiful.
Hopefully one or more of these books strikes your interest! I know I’m going to have a hard time picking which book to read this month since there are so many interesting ones out there. Make sure to share your pick and tag us, or use the hashtags #AYearofMagic and #FARTchallenge (Twitter) or #FARTreadingchallenge (Facebook and Instagram) to keep the conversation going.