The Trans Generation: A Review
"[I]ntended for a mixed audience of academics, students, trans people of all ages, family members and friends of trans kids, and those who care for and work with kids," this book is written in a tight, well-researched academic style that is clear, decisive, incisive, and practical.
Researched and written by an author who is themself trans, The Trans Generation cuts through a great deal of the mythology and seemingly endless debates about how to support trans and gender-non-conforming children by focusing on the systems of inequality that place so much pressure on them.
This requires an intersectional approach that spends time on disability theory, racial and class-based oppression, and the failings of educational and health care systems, with a primary focus on the United States and Canada. It also spends some time dismantling myths related to the gender binary, particularly in the realm of children's sports.
The overall logical progression of the book is straightforward—which is very good, given the scope and assertiveness of the author's stance. It's also hard-hitting. The obstacles placed in front of trans people, especially children, are incredible, and The Trans Generation addresses them head-on, with a clear eye and a refusal to shirk from accusations of injustice. This can sometimes make reading it upsetting, or even overwhelming.
Therefore, as excellent as this book is, it definitely isn't for anyone with psychological or emotional triggers related to transphobia/homophobia, self-harm, or suicide, as some of the interviews and anecdotes referenced discuss these topics in excruciating detail. (Racism and sexism are discussed prominently as well.)
This book is a fantastic academic resource, and I'm glad to have found it for the bibliography alone. It introduced me to some terms and concepts that I wasn't familiar with, two key ones being "precarity" and "necropolitics." Both are tied to the idea that, while life is inherently unpredictable and unstable, the current politics in the United States and Canada supports some people through difficulty and disaster more than others. The privileged are given as many chances as they need to recover and rebuild, while the abject are left to slip through the cracks.
These concepts are particularly important when it comes to trans activism as it is moving forward today. While medical treatment, changes to legal documents, and social acceptance are becoming more accessible to trans people as we become more visible, that access is uneven. Factors such as race, poverty, gender non-conformity, and family support have a huge impact on the opportunities open to trans children, and a lack of that access can have a huge negative impact on, if not outright endanger, their lives.
The biggest personal takeaway I got from this book is that it's profoundly helpful to put transness into an appropriate context, as one axis among countless intersections of identity and injustice. It honestly just makes so much more sense that way than when it's analyzed in isolation.
At the same time, providing a theoretical framework doesn't mean that there can't be a focus on specific, concrete events and experiences. The author's outlines of legal court cases are detailed and timely, and the personal stories gathered from their interviews hammer home the point that these aren't just abstracts and technicalities. Lives hang in the balance—not only ours, here and now, but those of all trans and gender-nonconforming children to come.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to gain an understanding of what trans people in North America need, both now and for the future, and why it is we need it.