RELEASED: June 5, 2018
PUBLISHER: New York University Press
GOODREADS RATING: 4.0
A groundbreaking look at the lives of transgender children and their families
Some “boys” will only wear dresses; some “girls” refuse to wear dresses; in both cases, as Ann Travers shows in this fascinating account of the lives of transgender kids, these are often more than just wardrobe choices. Travers shows that from very early ages, some at two and three years old, these kids find themselves to be different from the sex category that was assigned to them at birth. How they make their voices heard–to their parents and friends, in schools, in public spaces, and through the courts–is the focus of this remarkable and groundbreaking book.
Based on interviews with transgender kids, ranging in age from 4 to 20, and their parents, and over five years of research in the US and Canada, The Trans Generation offers a rare look into what it is like to grow up as a trans child. From daycare to birthday parties and from the playground to the school bathroom, Travers takes the reader inside the day-to-day realities of trans kids who regularly experience crisis as a result of the restrictive ways in which sex categories regulate their lives and put pressure on them to deny their internal sense of who they are in gendered terms.
As a transgender activist and as an advocate for trans kids, Travers is able to document from first-hand experience the difficulties of growing up trans and the challenges that parents can face. The book shows the incredible time, energy, and love that these parents give to their children, even in the face of, at times, unsupportive communities, schools, courts, health systems, and government laws. Keeping in mind that all trans kids are among the most vulnerable to bullying, violent attacks, self-harm, and suicide, and that those who struggle with poverty, racism, lack of parental support, learning differences, etc, are extremely at risk, Travers offers ways to support all trans kids through policy recommendations and activist interventions. Ultimately, the book is meant to open up options for kids’ own gender self-determination, to question the need for the sex binary, and to highlight ways that cultural and material resources can be redistributed more equitably. The Trans Generation offers an essential and important new understanding of childhood.
In today’s society, there’s always something going on concerning people’s gender, sexuality, race and… well, pretty much every other label or characteristic in existence. The Trans Generation focuses on one of those – being trans. As someone identifying as bisexual, I often feel like I should know more about other identities, other labels. Which is exactly why I decided to pick up this book.
This won’t be my usual good vs. bad review, because this work deserves so much more than that. It deserves to be put in the spotlight in whatever way possible.
Firstly, I’d like to point out I can’t judge any of the content in any way. I don’t identify as trans, nor do I live in the United States or in Canada – where Ann Travers conducted years and years of research. I genuinely believe this allows me to say it gives a real and raw view of how life for transgenders is in those continents.
I was aware life couldn’t be easy for this minority group, but I never, ever realized – and this may sound naive, but so be it – there are many other factors influencing their lives on a daily basis. Simply imagining a trans, colored person growing up in a very poor environment makes me angry.
Ann Travers succeeds at showing exactly what kind of influence this can have on children who’re already struggling with their identity, their being.
Adding in snippets of trans children’s lives makes this non-fiction even more real, touching and thought-provoking. So many subjects are touched upon – from social perspectives, to friends, to school, to family, to beliefs, to the environment they grew up on, to… well.. a lot!
I have to admit I had a hard time getting through this non-fiction, but that’s purely because there is a lot of information, a lot of things I didn’t know, didn’t realize. I had to read slowly, sometimes even rereading chapters because I was sure I didn’t take it all in like I wanted to.
At the end of the day, I simply want to share this novel with everyone because it’s a truly important one. I hope you read it someday.
Usually I end my reviews with a question for all of you.
This time, my only message is to please consider reading this or simply sharing this book so it reaches as many people as possible.