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  • Gabby Womack

Transgender History, 2nd ed. by Susan Stryker

Rating: 5 stars


"Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach to the subject of transgender history, with each chapter covering major movements, writings, and events. Chapters cover the transsexual and transvestite communities in the years following World War II; trans radicalism and social change, which spanned from 1966 with the publication of The Transsexual Phenomenon, and lasted through the early 1970s; the mid-’70s to 1990-the era of identity politics and the changes witnessed in trans circles through these years; and the gender issues witnessed through the ’90s and ’00s.

Transgender History includes informative sidebars highlighting quotes from major texts and speeches in transgender history and brief biographies of key players, plus excerpts from transgender memoirs and discussion of treatments of transgenderism in popular culture."

- Seal Press


Last Fall, I audited a course on LGBTQ+ History and this book was on the syllabus. We only had time to read a few chapters but the content made me want to dive all the way in. Stryker manages to fit so much fascinating, painful, and illuminating information in a relatively short book without reading like a typical history text. Her review of trans history is intersectional in that it covers the experiences of Black, Indigenous, People of Color who are often left out of queer histories and LGBTQ+ representation in media. I was happily surprised to see that she included other movements such as Black Lives Matter and Occupy, as well.

I would have liked to have even more information on Indigenous folks, but I understand that this information may be more accurate from a person with tribal identity(ies).

Although I had borrowed a physical copy of this book from the library, I ended up purchasing it as an audiobook, too. This was how I finished reading the book and ended up being a wonderful way to consume the information. I will have to go back to take some notes from the print book, though! Stryker quotes and draws attention to so many sources that folx can use to continue learning more.

Topics include: Scientific community's work on understanding/helping/hurting LGBTQ+ folx, creation of gay/lesbian culture, early trans icons, the Lavender Scare, drag, uprisings, ball culture, understandings of intersex folks, anti-lgtbq+ laws, anti-trans folx within the queer community, TERFs, academic interest, and the perceived rise in the trans population in the U.S.


One of the best things about this book is that it includes a wonderful glossary at the beginning to familiarize readers with the language I mentioned above. Transgender History should be taught alongside the rest of the materials in history courses, as well as biology (to show the ways in which science has been used to both hurt and help folx).

I highly recommend that educators include sections of this book for grades 4 and up. You can use the information for children under that age range, but you may have to break down the content bit by bit and simplify some of it.

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