Wednesday, June 20, 2018

The Trans Generation by Ann Travers (#transgender #nonbinary)

The Trans Generation is one of those books that I found fascinating, but hard to read - which is a shame, because there is some great information in it, along with some valuable insights and wonderful observations.

Early reviewers called it passionate, smart, sensitive, compassionate, pragmatic, heartfelt, and honest, none of which I can disagree with. It is the "pleasure to read" accolades where I struggle. In choosing such a clinical style, presenting so much in what reads like case notes from a counseling session, Ann Travers makes it hard to connect with these kids and really identify with them. Their stories generate sympathy, and trigger some very dark emotions (and, in my case, memories), but at a distance. I struggled through it because those journeys are important to me, but I am not so sure the casual reader would stick with it.

What I found most fascinating about it was the dual focus on the lives and experiences of the children, and the barriers they face in society. Ann comes down hard on a largely broken system that does not know how to support these kids, and which often has no interest in doing so. We are exposed to a culture of racism and sexism, of homophobia and transphobia, that put these kids at a disadvantage from day one. All of that is important because, as the book argues, trans kids do not exist in a vacuum, and neither do their struggles. One issue feeds another, compounds another, and leads back into a cycle of barriers - which are dress-codes and bathrooms as often as they are rules and legislation.

assoc prof sociology, SFU; trans-non-binary white settler and anti-racist ally; goals: social justice/prison abolition/decolonization 


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