Since coming out as nonbinary, I’ve dealt with a lot of questions and confusion from people who had only the barest idea of what it meant to be transgender. It can be difficult to field those questions yourself; it’s taken me years to figure out and feel secure in my gender, and I can’t just explain everything I learned during that time in any one conversation. On the other hand I also don’t want to send anyone down a Google rabbit hole of anti-trans rhetoric, which is a real danger if you start looking for answers without knowing where to look. So I’ve been collecting resources, and now, during Nonbinary Awareness Week, I figured I’d share those resources here.
If someone you know has come out to you as trans and you’re not sure what to think or ask, or if you are a trans person looking for ways to inform the people around you, I hope this list will help you on your way.
Trans 101 | FAQ
I recommend starting with these resources discussing frequently asked questions about trans and nonbinary people.
- Frequently Asked Questions About Transgender People (transequality.org)
- Understanding Nonbinary People (transequality.org)
- Transgender 101 (Everyday Feminism)
What’s the difference between sex and gender?
A transgender person is someone who does not identify with the gender that matches their sex assigned at birth. But what’s the difference between sex and gender? The links below explain what these two categories entail, why they are different from each other, and why neither of them is as binary as high school biology has led many of us to believe.
- Trans women are not “biologically male” (Riley J. Dennis) (part 1 of a 2-part video)
- Male and female are binary, but people aren’t (Riley J. Dennis) (part 2)
- What’s the Difference Between Sex and Gender? (Healthline)
- Gender identity: The difference between gender, sex and other need-to-knows (CNN)
Slightly related to this is this video on male and female brains: Do trans women have female brains? (Riley J. Dennis).
Dysphoria, euphoria and transitioning
Gender dysphoria, gender euphoria, and transitioning are important terms that come up a lot when discussing trans experiences. Here are some articles and videos on the subject:
- Gender Dysphoria (NHS)
- How Gender Euphoria Is Helping To Redefine What It Means To Be Transgender (Star Observer)
- Gender Euphoria (Ash Hardell)
- Gender Dysphoria vs. Gender EUPHORIA ft. Ash Hardell! (Aaron Ansuini)
Is transitioning healthy/what’s up with detransitioning?
Some people are worried that trans kids are transitioning at too young an age, and that trans people in general are making irreversible changes to their bodies that might end up hurting them. These articles explain why that isn’t true – the transitioning process is long and leaves more than enough room for introspection, detransitioning rates are extremely low, and studies that show mental health problems in people who have transitioned have often been wrongly cited. A lot of these ‘concerns’ are actually promoted by TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists) and other people who don’t think trans people (should) exist, instead of people who have trans people’s best interests at heart.
Most of the time when someone is transitioning, they have thought about that for a very long time before taking any action. Trust that they are making the right decision for themselves!
- Evidenced Research on Detransition ‘Regret’ for Newsnight (Gender GP)
- Gender Dysphoria Isn’t A “Social Contagion,” According To A New Study (Buzzfeed News)
- Fact check: study shows transition makes trans people suicidal (Trans Advocate)
Transgender people have not been represented in medea a lot, and a lot of the representation that does exist plays into harmful stereotypes. But books, movies and TV-shows with true-to-life portrayals of trans people can be great ways to learn about our various, diverse experiences. This is a non-exhaustive list of creations with trans rep I loved. (And, this really shouldn’t have to be said, but of course any one portrayal of a trans person is not The portrayal of all trans people. Because we are all different. Obviously.)
- Disclosure (Netflix documentary) – a documentary about the history of transgender representation in film & TV
- Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques (book) – the memoir of a trans woman in the UK
- Gender Queer by Maia Kobabe (graphic novel) – autobiographical comic about gender and identity
- Beyond the Gender Binary by Alok Vaid-Menon (book) – short informational book about gender beyond the binary
- Gender Explorers by Juno Roche (book) – soon-to-be-published collection of interviews with young transgender people
Fiction: film & TV
- One Day At A Time (Netflix and Pop series) – sitcom about a Cuban-American family with a nonbinary love interest for the family’s teenage daughter
- Pose (Netflix series) – drama series about the New York Black and Latinx queer ballroom scene in the 80s and 90s
- Sense8 (Netflix series) – scifi series about 8 people around the world who share a psychic connection; one of the 8 is a lesbian trans woman
- Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender – YA contemporary about a transmasc teen who gets outed at his art school
- I Wish You All the Best by Mason Deaver – YA contemporary about a nonbinary teen who gest kicked out by their parents after coming out
- George by Alex Gino – a middlegrade contemporary about a trans girl who just wants to play Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s web
- Capricious: The Gender Diverse Pronouns Issue by various authors – a collection of adult SFF short stories with characters of many gender identities
- When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore – YA magical realism with a dual POV, one of whom is a Pakistani trans boy
In the above recommendations I’ve focused mainly on media in which trans identity and issues are the main point of attention at some time in the narrative; the kind of representation that I think people can learn from. Casual representation, however, is also very important, and transness doesn’t always have to be the focus of a trans character – it’s fine if they just happen to be trans. Enough trans people exist in real life that any piece of media attempting to show an accurate portrayal of society should include some transgender characters, even if they are not the focus.
I hope this post has been helpful. If you know of any resources that I haven’t mentioned, or if there are topics you would like to learn more about, leave a comment!