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 at times - which is a shame, because there is some great information in it, along with some valuable insights, and some wonderful observations.

Early reviewers called the book passionate, smart, sensitive, compassionate, pragmatic, heartfelt, and honest, none of which I can disagree with. It is the "pleasure to read" accolades where I struggled. The book is written in a clinical style, presenting so much of the information in what reads like case notes from a counseling session. For me, that made it hard to connect with the kids, to really identify with them. Their stories generate sympathy, and trigger some very dark emotions (and, in my case, memories), but at a distance.

It occurs to me, of course, that the distance may be deliberate. Perhaps the clinical approach works better for those parents, teachers, counselors, and others who are observing, rather than experiencing the kids' issues. Personally, I struggled with the text, but persevered because those journeys are important to me. I do worry about the casual reader, but that approach may very well be what keeps them reading.

What I found most fascinating about The Trans Generation was the dual focus on the lives and experiences of the children, and the barriers they face in society. Ann Travers 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 come in the form of dress-codes and bathrooms as often as they do 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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