B.C.'s Books: Other TG Books

I've finally decided that I have to split my book list into a couple of pages -- there are just too many TG books that need to be catalogued. This page lists all of my fiction, biographical, and picture books, as well as some miscellaneous books. Other books can be found on the main book list.

This page uses the same rating scale as the main list.

Very Good

No rating means that I haven't read (or finished reading) the book yet, and I don't yet have an opinion.

Transgender Photography

Loren Cameron. Body Alchemy: Transsexual Portraits. Pittsburg and San Francisco: Cleis Press Inc., 1996.

A beautiful book of Loren Cameron's photos. Cameron has a rare talent for photography, and his images are powerful and poignant.

For the longest time, transsexuals and especially transsexual men (female-to-males) have been virtually invisible to the dominant culture. Marginalized even within the gay and lesbian subculture, transsexuals have occupied no real space of our own.

Ladies, Please!

Mary Ann Camilleri. Ladies, Please! Toronto: Exile Editions, 1994.
ISBN 1-55096-053-9

Mary Ann Camilleri beautifully captures the camp splendeur of drag artists at events such as Wigstock and Toronto Pride Day. The pictures are funky, fun, and lively.

Drag Diaries

Catherine Chermayeff, Johnathan David, and Nan Richardson. Drag Diaries, Umbra Editions, 1995.
ISBN 0-8118-0895-5

A collection of photos and stories about some of the prominent New York drag queens.

For me, the movies were the genesis of drag. All movies were built on the idea that it might be possible to rule the world through the skillful use of cosmetics. [...]

I thought I could rule the world if I looked like that. So I set out to look like that. Nothing less. And I did rule it in a sense.

The Drag King Book

Del Lagrace Volcano and Judith "Jack" Halberstam. The Drag King Book. London: Serpent's Tail, 1999.
ISBN 1-85242-607-1

Del Lagrace Volcano has taken some wonderfully expressive pictures of Drag Kings in London, San Francisco and New York. More sideburns than you'll see on That 70s Show.

But, a bit more seriously: the TG community is constantly reinventing itself. A few years ago, I hadn't even heard of drag kings, and now there's a photo essay about these communities. I think that's really neat. I also think it's interesting to find an FTM community that's as over-the-top as the drag queens. I love stuff like that, and I love this book.

Guy to Goddess

Rosamond Norbury (photos) and Bill Richardson (text). Guy to Goddess: An Intimate Look at Drag Queens, Toronto: Whitecap Books, 1994.
ISBN 1-55110-254-4

An eclectic collection of unposed photos of drag queens with a loose dialogue by Bill Richardson.

Ours is not a society that applauds those who thumb their noses at conformity.


Mariette Pathy Allen, Transformations: Cross-dressers and Those Who Love Them, E.P. Dutton, New York, 1989.
ISBN 0-525-24820

This is a beautiful coffee-table book (well, maybe not for the coffee table if you're shy), containing Mariette Pathy Allen's photographs of TGs. Mostly in black-and-white, but with some colour shots. The photos are accompanied by short writings by the TGs as well as other important people in their lives: parents, spouses, children, etc.

I must confess that I sometimes tend to want to undervalue this book. The photos are of real transgendered people, and some trannies aren't "beautiful people". But there's something very special about this book.

The instant I meet a member of the gender community, I am privy to his deepest, darkest secret.


As Nature Made Him

John Colapinto.  As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised As a Girl. Toronto: HarperCollins, 2000.
ISBN 0-00-200047-4

This book describes the world-famous John/Joan case first reported by Dr. John Money as a successful case of gender conditioning. As an infant, David Reimer (John/Joan) lost his penis in a botched circumcision. Dr. Money convinced the boy's parents to raise him as a girl. Dr. Money reported that David grew up as a happily adjusted girl. But, in truth, David was terribly unhappy as a girl, and eventually found out the truth about his history.

I'm a bit uncomfortable with all the fame that this story is earning; I think that Reimer's goal of stopping this kind of medical intervention on infants (especially the intersexed) is a good goal. But I'm against people using this story as evidence of the biological basis for gender (there are facts in the story that make that conclusion questionable), and I think some people are failing to understand the difference between his story and, say, transsexualism.

Colapinto seems to avoid taking too strong a position on any one side of this debate. Dr. Money certainly comes off as something of a villain, but Colapinto seems to avoid hazarding any opinions about the origin of gender. Unfortunately, I've run into many people who've used this story as "proof" of the biological basis of gender.

Man Enough to be a Woman

Jayne County with Rupert Smith. Man Enough to be a Woman. London and New York: Serpent's Tail, 1996.
ISBN 1-85242-338-2

[Review by B.C. Holmes]

Quentin Crisp, How to Become a Virgin, Flamingo, London, 1981
ISBN 0-00-638798-5

Quentin Crisp is hilarious, but in a refined, cultured sort of way. This book picks up where his other biography, The Naked Civil Servant, leaves off.

It is difficult for young people nowadays to understand because sexual freedom has become more important than identity. Indeed, it has superseded it. [...] Those who now protest and demonstrate and march most persistently are often those with the least clearly marked personalities. Like cells in an organism, it takes thousands of teenagers to make up a single identity.

Aphrodite Jones. All She Wanted. New York: Pocket Books, 1996.
ISBN 0-671-52667-7

A Biography of Brandon Teena.

Monsieur d'Eon Is a Woman

Gary Kates. Monsieur d'Eon Is a Woman: A Tale of Political Intruigue and Sexual Masquerade. New York: Basic Books, 1995.
ISBN 0-465-04762-9

I Am My Own Woman

Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, (translated by Jean Hollander). I Am My Own Woman: The Outlaw Life of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, Berlin's Most Distinguished Transvestite. Pittsburgh: Cleis Press Inc., 1995.
ISBN 1-57344-101-8

[Review by B.C. Holmes]


Deirdre McCloskey. Crossing: a memoir. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1999.
ISBN 0-226-55668-9

Wow. There's a lot I could say about this book. Certainly, it raises in me a lot of conflicted emotions. On the one hand, I think Dr. McCloskey has managed a surprisingly candid account of her "crossing' from male to female, from het male crossdresser to post-op transsexual woman, from conservative economist to... well, actually she remains a conservative economist.

I found many of her descriptions of trying to join the culture of women fascinating, and I was horrified by many of the abuses inflicted on her by people like her sister, and the psychiatric community. Nonetheless, she seems to spend a lot of time in the book appealing to be understood, and I think I might be more sympathetic to her pain if she didn't take the opportunity to record some really insulting and dismissive things about some TG theories, such as thirdness.

In the end, I found it hard not to see her as whiny.

R.H.F. Scott (translator), The Transvestite Memoirs of The Abbe de Choisy, Peter Owen Ltd., London, 1973.
ISBN 0-7206-0122-3

The abbe de Choisy and the Chevalier d'Eon are, perhaps, the two most famous historical TGs. These writings from the abbe herself are a bit dry, but, hey, what do you expect from someone writing in the 17th Century? One of the things that irks me, though, is the way that R.H.F. Scott refers to the abbe as 'he' all through the introduction.

Shylock's Last Stand

Pamela Snow. Shylock's Last Stand. Stratford: Pendragon Publishing, 1997.
ISBN 0-9682168-0-3

A few years ago, the author of this book went into the restaurant business in Stratford, Ontario, with a transsexual partner. Shortly thereafter, the restaurant was closed. In this book, Snow provides her own, admittedly one-sided, view of the events leading up to this business failure.

Snow is very critical of her business partner and ends up painting the TG community as a whole in a bad light. The events are told straight-forwardly, but the book is not especially well-written or engaging.


Worlds of Women

Bernadette Bosky. "None of the Above", Worlds of Women: Sapphic Science Fiction Erotica. Edited by Cecilia Tan. Boston: Circlet Press, Inc, 1993.
ISBN 1-56341-029-X

I have a funny story about this short story. Several years ago, I was browsing around my favourite queer book store (Glad Day Books on Yonge), and I noticed a thin little book of lesbian science fiction. I bought the book, and, at home, read it fairly quickly.

I hated the book, with the exception of one story: a short story called "None of the Above" by Bernadette Bosky. It was almost cyberpunk; a common them of the cyberpunk genre is to question what it means to be human in a world where people change their bodies with advanced medical technology. Bosky's story asks the same questions of gender. What does it mean to be male or female in such a future world?

Then I forgot about the story. Several years later, I started participating on an Usenet newsgroup where Bernadette Bosky was a regular contributor. But I didn't recognize the name. I was impressed by the things that Bernadette had to say, and really hoped to meet her at one of the annual newsgroup gatherings (every year, the participants of the newsgroup converge on a city somewhere in the world, and hangs out with each other for the weekend). Unfortunately, Bernadette was never able to come until 1999.

I was pleased to meet Bernadette in Chicago in early 1999, and I started talking to her about a variety of things. And, as is typical of me, the topic of gender came up. And Bernadette started to tell me about this story that she had once written...

It was just one of those bizarre coincidences that you'd never believe in real life.

Stone Butch Blues

Leslie Feinberg. Stone Butch Blues. Ithaca: Firebrand Books, 1993.
ISBN 1-56341-029-X

This is a book that probably should have made it onto my reading list a long time ago. I'd always heard how good this book is, and, for whatever reason, I never got around to getting ahold of a copy.

This book is a very engaging story about Jess, a blue-collar butch who passes herself off as male to get work. The story is incredibly well told, and terribly saddening. I remember finishing the book on the plane to San Francisco, and desperately hoping that the people around me wouldn't notice me crying.

Cherry Single

Valory Gravois. Cherry Single. San Fransisco: Alchemist/Light Publishing, 1997.
ISBN 0-7879-0271-13

A transvestite fiction story.

[Review by B.C. Holmes]

Tsing Lee

Paige Turner. Tsing Lee: Mother of All She-Boys. Plymouth: Diogenes Press, 1999.
ISBN 0-9670594-7-X

I bought this book from the author while I was in Provincetown for the first time. I haven't had time to read it, yet, but what I've read so far is amusing. In many ways this is standard TG erotic fiction (don't expect too many doses of reality), although it's much better written than, say, those little purple books. Also, it looks like the book might actually have more to say than the standard fare -- there's a strong hint of political commentary and satire.


Trans Forming Families

Mary Boenke, Editor. Trans Forming Families: Real Stories About Transgendered Loved Ones. Imperial Beach: Walter Trook Publishing, 1999.
ISBN 1-85242-607-1

Okay, I originally picked up this book because it had a story in it written by the lovely and talented Star Straf, but I'm rather charmed by this little book. Remember, these are real stories by people who are family members of transgendered folks -- they're not professional writers. But the stories and the feelings are genuine, and told with an almost bitter honesty.

I had the opportunity to meet Mary Boenke at the IFGE conference in Washington DC. She's a delightful woman: caring, loving, and driven to try to help make it easier for queerfolk to be accepted by their parents (and vice-versa).

True Selves

Mildred L. Brown & Chloe Ann Rounsley. True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass, Inc., 1996.
ISBN 0-7879-0271-13

Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001 by B.C. Holmes. Last updated March 25th, 2001.
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