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The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

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Trans people in Britain today have become a culture war 'issue'. Despite making up less than 1% of the country's population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarised 'debate', which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which tra Trans people in Britain today have become a culture war 'issue'. Despite making up less than 1% of the country's population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarised 'debate', which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which trans people themselves are reduced to a talking point and denied a meaningful voice. In this powerful new book, Shon Faye reclaims the idea of the 'transgender issue' to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. In doing so, she provides a compelling, wide-ranging analysis of trans lives from youth to old age, exploring work, family, housing, healthcare, the prison system, and trans participation in the LGBTQ+ and feminist communities, in contemporary Britain and beyond. The Transgender Issue is a landmark work that signals the beginning of a new, healthier conversation about trans life. It is a manifesto for change, and a call for justice and solidarity between all marginalised people and minorities. Trans liberation, as Faye sees it, goes to the root of what our society is and what it could be; it offers the possibility of a more just, free and joyful world for all of us.


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Trans people in Britain today have become a culture war 'issue'. Despite making up less than 1% of the country's population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarised 'debate', which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which tra Trans people in Britain today have become a culture war 'issue'. Despite making up less than 1% of the country's population, they are the subjects of a toxic and increasingly polarised 'debate', which generates reliable controversy for newspapers and talk shows. This media frenzy conceals a simple fact: that we are having the wrong conversation, a conversation in which trans people themselves are reduced to a talking point and denied a meaningful voice. In this powerful new book, Shon Faye reclaims the idea of the 'transgender issue' to uncover the reality of what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. In doing so, she provides a compelling, wide-ranging analysis of trans lives from youth to old age, exploring work, family, housing, healthcare, the prison system, and trans participation in the LGBTQ+ and feminist communities, in contemporary Britain and beyond. The Transgender Issue is a landmark work that signals the beginning of a new, healthier conversation about trans life. It is a manifesto for change, and a call for justice and solidarity between all marginalised people and minorities. Trans liberation, as Faye sees it, goes to the root of what our society is and what it could be; it offers the possibility of a more just, free and joyful world for all of us.

30 review for The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice

  1. 5 out of 5

    Alexis Hall

    Source of book: NetGalley (thank you!) Relevant disclaimers: none The liberation of trans people would improve the lives of everyone in our society. This is a vital book: a clear-eyed look at the realities of trans life in the UK, that deliberately eschews the ‘recognised’ media talking points of bathrooms and the Olympics in favour examining the real injustices faced by trans people on an almost daily basis. From media coverage to prisons to sex work to access to medical care, each chapter explor Source of book: NetGalley (thank you!) Relevant disclaimers: none The liberation of trans people would improve the lives of everyone in our society. This is a vital book: a clear-eyed look at the realities of trans life in the UK, that deliberately eschews the ‘recognised’ media talking points of bathrooms and the Olympics in favour examining the real injustices faced by trans people on an almost daily basis. From media coverage to prisons to sex work to access to medical care, each chapter explores the way manufactured moral panic around the existence of trans people has been used to justify their systematic oppression. There’s so much I found powerful and admirable here, but I think, to me, what was most valuable was the analytical approach (Faye points out that trans media skews heavily towards demanding confessional or autobiographical works from trans writers) and the razor-sharp deconstruction of the hows and whys the UK is—not to put too fine a point on it—just so fucking transphobic. I’ve been increasingly aware of a kind of … mental helplessness, looking around me what feels like the utterly unnecessary culture we are currently waging on trans people, wondering where on earth this is coming from. Well. Now I know. And it’s honestly horrifying, the way the social and political conflicts around the rights and bodily autonomy of trans people have been framed as natural and necessary. When they are, of course, utterly constructed: built on years of fear-mongering and manipulation by the media and the government, right down to the fact that whenever there’s any sort of discussion of “trans issues” these tend to involve a trans person and someone oppositional to trans people, as if there is a neutral middle ground between these two positions. This is a meticulously researched and incisively written book that feels ground-breaking precisely because its shape, form and approach serves as an act of resistance against the prevailing narrative of how trans people should write, and what they should write about. Most significantly, it consistently rejects the idea of a single “trans experience” and speaks compassionately and coherently about the way issues of race, social class and economic privilege inform trans identity (Faye makes it very clear that she white, educated, and speaks with an RP accent—factors that made her own transition comparatively smooth). For all, however, that this is a work of polemic (and I sincerely hope it does something to re-frame the debates my country is having, and has long been having, about trans rights) it is as much a manifesto of hope as it is a battlecry: it envisions a world where trans liberty broadens the scope of possibility for all. A necessary, powerful and brilliant book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Morgan M. Page

    "There can be no trans liberation under capitalism. This is a fact." The past decade has witnessed the birth of a global anti-trans (or "anti-gender") movement, which has reached a boiling point in the United Kingdom with a bitter cultural war over the existence of trans people. Much of this so-called 'debate' focuses on the supposed threat trans women pose to public toilets, sports, and feminism. But, Shon Faye argues in her razor sharp new book The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice, th "There can be no trans liberation under capitalism. This is a fact." The past decade has witnessed the birth of a global anti-trans (or "anti-gender") movement, which has reached a boiling point in the United Kingdom with a bitter cultural war over the existence of trans people. Much of this so-called 'debate' focuses on the supposed threat trans women pose to public toilets, sports, and feminism. But, Shon Faye argues in her razor sharp new book The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice, this trumped up media frenzy is a moral panic that ignores the very real material oppression of trans people in every facet of contemporary life. Faye takes aim not only at cynical media, anti-trans feminists, and government, but also at a liberal politics that seeks only to absorb trans people into the workings of a patriarchal capitalism that is the source of all of our problems. She puts forward a refreshing socialist feminist argument for trans liberation — a liberation that would ultimately benefit all, trans and cis alike. Tackling both the more respectable issues like the broken medical system alongside more challenging (and, in my opinion, equally pertinent) issues like the criminalization of sex work, Faye's liberatory politics are a necessary correction to the past decade which has seen the 'influencer-ification' of trans and LGBTQ+ politics. This is a book that everyone will be reading when it hits shelves this September, whether they support or oppose trans people, and with good reason. It's well past time for the transgender issue to move forward, and Shon Faye lights the way.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Amrou

    This book is a total game changer. It’s rare to read something so groundbreaking and monumental. It might be the most bullet proof and rigorously argued text I’ve ever read. Every sentence is a mic drop, honestly. In a current media climate waging a war of disinformation on transgender people, this book cuts through the hellish, bigoted noise with pure facts that place trans people at the centre of the conversation, showing plainly and clearly what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. F This book is a total game changer. It’s rare to read something so groundbreaking and monumental. It might be the most bullet proof and rigorously argued text I’ve ever read. Every sentence is a mic drop, honestly. In a current media climate waging a war of disinformation on transgender people, this book cuts through the hellish, bigoted noise with pure facts that place trans people at the centre of the conversation, showing plainly and clearly what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. From healthcare and housing to prisons and families, Shon leaves no stone uncovered in this widespread and phenomenal analysis. But more than that, this book is a manifesto for radical change. It puts forth a vision of the world where we can ALL be liberated. It’s an exhilarating and thrilling read, and I had tears in my eyes at several points - it’s a version of the world I want to live in. It’s a world where can all be free to be who we are . At a time when global politics is besieged by Far Right actors who are trying to divide us - and it’s working - this book is an urgent call for solidarity between all marginalised groups.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Schulman

    A clear, intelligent, experience-based explanation of why the scapegoating of trans people must stop, while ethusiastically encouraging more trans people to join feminist, anti-racist movements for economic and social change.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tori

    I am trans, I have a degree in gender studies, and I’m active on social media. This means that, like it or not, I am highly familiar with ‘the transgender issue’ - that is, I am intimately aware of the way that the issues which affect trans people in the real world are abstracted, rendered absurd, and otherwise transformed into fodder for headlines in right-wing or reactionary newspapers. To write a book called 'The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice' in 2021 is an ambitious thing to do I am trans, I have a degree in gender studies, and I’m active on social media. This means that, like it or not, I am highly familiar with ‘the transgender issue’ - that is, I am intimately aware of the way that the issues which affect trans people in the real world are abstracted, rendered absurd, and otherwise transformed into fodder for headlines in right-wing or reactionary newspapers. To write a book called 'The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice' in 2021 is an ambitious thing to do and requires an absolute clarity of argument and purpose that few could deliver. Fortunately Shon Faye is one of those few. What 'The Transgender Issue' is not is an overview of the many confected debates staged in the popular press, rebutting each transphobic argument painfully and at length. It is also not a manifesto for diversity & inclusion, a personal account of transphobic harassment, or an apologia for corporate and NGO-led trans activism. It is instead a wide-ranging, careful analysis of the real effect of transphobia in Britain (and to a lesser extent, the wider world) today, informed equally by longstanding feminist traditions and a genuinely socialist viewpoint which holds that the only acceptable goal is the liberation of trans people and that this must be achieved through the resistance to and abolition of capitalism. Faye discusses in her conclusion the fact that many of the feminists she references in her argument are from the much-maligned ‘second wave’ of feminist theory, now out of fashion due to its leading lights’ regressive opinions on issues like sex work and pornography, but her justification - that this reveals the extent to which trans inclusion is intertwined with feminism, not mutually exclusive with it - is sound, and her attention in the early part of the book to those issues for which second wave feminism is often criticised means that the book is far from unquestioning in its invocation of these feminist forebears. (For what it’s worth, I think these characterisations of second-wave feminism in general are often unfair; anti-sex and antiporn feminism did reach a zenith in that period but actual feminist consensus was far from settled on the issues in spite of the profile of thinkers like Dworkin and Mackinnon.) Faye also traces the organised anti-trans strand of feminism to this period, but is careful to remind us likewise that the prominence of transphobic feminists belies the actual support for trans people that has always been part of feminism. There is, likewise, some analysis of the current trend for anti-trans feminism among the British commentariat but this is ultimately in service of exposing the ways in which transphobia forms an important part of the operation of capitalist heteropatriarchy, keeping Faye’s main argument - that the liberation of trans people will benefit all people - clearly in view at all times. If I sound like I knew everything in this book already and am praising it mainly for agreeing with me, let me clarify: this is a thoroughly-researched, meticulous and even-handed exploration of, on the one hand, the ‘transgender issue’ as it exists in the media (pronouns, changing rooms, male pregnancy) and the real issues that transgender people face (employment discrimination, physical violence, access to reproductive health, as well as overrepresentation amongst other groups who are amongst the worst-off in society). Like Faye, I am a white trans woman of a comfortable class background and who was able to access a high level of education, and like her I am therefore insulated from many of the worst effects of transphobia in our society. Where 'The Transgender Issue' really excels for me, then, is in its refusal to construct a monolithic trans experience based on the lives of the most comfortable in our community, and its commitment to prioritising the voices of those who those trans people who are multiply marginalised. Chapters on trans children, on trans sex workers, and on the interactions between trans people and the carceral state represent major interventions in the ongoing cultural dialogue around trans rights and in the way we discuss those issues in particular; there is much to learn from them and from those who are quoted and cited there. These chapters make 'The Transgender Issue' an important read, then, not just for those cis people who seek to learn more about the real state of trans people today - although it is an invaluable resource for those who only learn about trans people through the mainstream media - but for all, including those within the trans community. It is not always a comfortable read but it is a necessary one, and a book that should rightly be praised.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Varshini

    vital vital read! such a direct and lucid book that cuts through the distracting transphobic noise around 'trans issues' (as faye argues so well, are issues that have direct and indirect consequences for everyone) and instead makes a case for liberation. every chapter builds smoothly on ideas introduced earlier in the text and overall it's such a well-researched and tightly written book. particularly appreciated the chapters on sex work, state violence, feminism and the construction of lgbt as a vital vital read! such a direct and lucid book that cuts through the distracting transphobic noise around 'trans issues' (as faye argues so well, are issues that have direct and indirect consequences for everyone) and instead makes a case for liberation. every chapter builds smoothly on ideas introduced earlier in the text and overall it's such a well-researched and tightly written book. particularly appreciated the chapters on sex work, state violence, feminism and the construction of lgbt as an umbrella term. also loved the interrogation of fairly recently developed ideas and language surrounding sex, sexuality and gender. it feels so good to read a book which dares to demand we radically imagine a better world!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Chris Baumgarten

    Truth be told, I didn't finish it. It's just too many self serving reinterpretations of reality, if not outright invention thereof, to handle. It is one thing that people whose life is centered around wanting to be someone else suffer terribly in their predicament and to aknowlegde their pain. It is quite another to pretend that society at large is responsible for that, and, what's more that society basically has nothing else to do but to think about these undeniably unfortunate souls or to even "e Truth be told, I didn't finish it. It's just too many self serving reinterpretations of reality, if not outright invention thereof, to handle. It is one thing that people whose life is centered around wanting to be someone else suffer terribly in their predicament and to aknowlegde their pain. It is quite another to pretend that society at large is responsible for that, and, what's more that society basically has nothing else to do but to think about these undeniably unfortunate souls or to even "exclude" them - or to pretend that they way people think about themselves is not influenced by projections, that psychology does not exist and that there is - at the bottom of it all - an esoteric substance that makes people something other than they are born. None of the arguments I have encountered stands up to scrutiny. The lack of reliable evidence is hidden behind a veil of, well, sob stories. Not that this is unique in self serving propaganda literature, but usually we are a lot more critical in dealing with the talking points of a tiny but organised minority within a tiny minority than is the case with trans ideology. Overall, the author relies on the wider public being largely uneducated in natural sciences, sociology and psychology and so being unable to question whatever self serving stories they have to sell. This is much akin to, say, Creationists, only that they don't generally encounter uncritical reviewers. So, it is a book worth reading if you want to familiarize yourself with how propaganda works in a postmodern environment riddled with various forms of identity politcs - all destructive by themselves -, and if you don't want to rely on all the super-abundant propaganda material that's out there for free. It may also be worth your time if you want to study narcisstic exposure. If you want to learn anything about gender issues or transgender issues - well, don't read it.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eoin Mulligan

    Every few years a book will come along, look you dead in the eye and firmly say “I will benefit the world.” This is one of those books. My only wish is that it had been written twenty, thirty years ago, but nevertheless here we are, and I plan to pass it into the hands of everyone I can. Sharp, to the point and underlined with hope, The Transgender Issue showcases Shon’s talent for stepping outside of herself in order to present varied lived experiences. Throughout the book she presents the ways Every few years a book will come along, look you dead in the eye and firmly say “I will benefit the world.” This is one of those books. My only wish is that it had been written twenty, thirty years ago, but nevertheless here we are, and I plan to pass it into the hands of everyone I can. Sharp, to the point and underlined with hope, The Transgender Issue showcases Shon’s talent for stepping outside of herself in order to present varied lived experiences. Throughout the book she presents the ways in which the reformation and abolition of a number of sectors of contemporary society - capitalism, anti trans feminism and the incarceration system, amongst others - will not only benefit the lives of the trans community but the wider communities of other marginalised people. Thank you so much to Dave & Penguin for the proof! 💓

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kara Babcock

    This is a book I have been waiting for. I don’t just mean in the sense that I pre-ordered it (though I did); I mean that I am very much interested in books about trans liberation as opposed to personal memoirs. I know Shon Faye’s The Transgender Issue is far from the first book on this subject. However, it is current and cogent. In her prologue, Faye makes the case clearly: The demand for true trans liberation echoes and overlaps with the demands of workers, socialists, feminists, anti-racists a This is a book I have been waiting for. I don’t just mean in the sense that I pre-ordered it (though I did); I mean that I am very much interested in books about trans liberation as opposed to personal memoirs. I know Shon Faye’s The Transgender Issue is far from the first book on this subject. However, it is current and cogent. In her prologue, Faye makes the case clearly: The demand for true trans liberation echoes and overlaps with the demands of workers, socialists, feminists, anti-racists and queer people. They are radical demands, in that they go to the root of what our society is and what it could be. For this reason, the existence of trans people is a source of constant anxiety for many who are either invested in the status quo or fearful about what would replace it. (Emphasis original.) Faye goes on, in the introduction, to explain why The Transgender Issue is not a memoir: While the trans memoir has been important in destigmatizing and demystifying trans people’s understanding of themselves, confession and candour ought not to be the only basis for trans people’s right to public and political speech.… You don’t have to know the intimate details of my private life to support me. Such a good point. I do enjoy a good memoir and will certainly seek out more memoirs by trans people, especially trans people who experience marginalizations I don’t share. At the end of the day, however, if all you’re doing is reading personal stories in an attempt to build empathy, you are stopping short of the true goal—liberation. I want books that build political cases for reorganizing our society. This is the thesis of The Transgender Issue, and Faye challenges both trans and cis people to understand: liberating trans people involves reimagining society itself. Addressing transphobia and other systemic barriers means addressing racism and white supremacy, poverty, ableism, and ageism. It means building a society that is more compassionate, more dignified, more willing to listen to those on the margins. Faye points out that trans people like ourselves, who are white and well-educated, can fall prey to a liberal view of trans inclusivity—one that focuses on acceptance on an individualized basis, the proper use of one’s name and pronouns, etc. This individualized approach to reducing transphobia is inherently limited. Faye focuses on three main areas: autonomy as it applies to trans healthcare, issues of class and race that exacerbate the struggles of trans people, and the relationship between trans people and other queer and feminist movements. In each chapter, Faye integrates both historical and contemporary sources, taking on issues such as the transphobic nature of UK journalism and media and the history of trans inclusion/exclusion within queer and feminist spaces. With regards to trans healthcare, my heart goes out to trans people in the UK. I got so angry reading about how difficult it is to access hormone therapy through public healthcare—the waiting lists are years in length and replete in traumatizing red tape. For trans kids, acquiring puberty blockers is even more fraught. Thankfully, one part of this book is already out of date—the Court of Appeal reversed a judgment that resulted in the NHS no longer allowing those under 18 to give informed consent to puberty blockers. On a wider note, Faye asserts correctly that trans healthcare is far more than access to hormones and surgeries. There are reproductive right considerations (both because, in many countries, trans people have historically been forcibly sterilized, and hormone therapy in general tends to result in infertility). There are mental healthcare considerations. Trans healthcare must be holistic, yet the interminable gatekeeping, the casting of doubt and shame, the refusal in some cases even to acknowledge our existence—it all adds up to a severely harmful and damaging system. Intersections of class and race, as I have already outlined, mean that trans people who experience additional marginalizations often find themselves without proper access to supportive social services. Faye touches on issues with the carceral system, with victim support services, and with housing services. Often trans people must choose between being themselves or accessing a service they need or otherwise live in constant fear of violence and discrimination. It’s not good times. Finally, Faye turns to a broader consideration of trans people as a political category and how that intersects with queer politics and feminist politics. Rather than retread and refute the various arguments that transphobic and trans-exclusionary people make, Faye asks us to get down to the basics of the goals of feminism and queer liberation. In particular, I was very grateful that Faye acknowledges how white supremacy and colonialism are involved: Female socialization may well describe a collection of experiences that some types of women share in common — but at a global level it is clear that the cultural expectation of what it is to be a woman, and how these expectations are imposed, vary significantly. The same expectations are applied to different women in different ways under a capitalist class system in which some women are racialized as inferior and exploited more readily for their labour. In reality, the ongoing predominance of white, middle-class and cisgender women in feminism means that any global definition of womanhood is often simply an extrapolation of these women’s particular racial and class experience, as if it were universal. This echoes what I learned from Ruby Hamad’s White Tears/Brown Scars about how white women prop up white supremacy (and, by extension, patriarchy). Faye goes on to point out that enforcing a gender binary is just another way that colonialism can exert control over people. First, it’s so important that this is being mentioned in a book by a white author—we need more trans people of colour writing, of course, and those of us who are white need to acknowledge how white supremacy underlies our own oppression even while we simultaneously benefit from it. Second, this is why your feminism must be trans-inclusive or it is bullshit. If feminism is a project to liberate all women, then it cannot use a definition of womanhood created by primarily white, middle-class and upper-class women. The Transgender Issue is very UK-focused (intentionally so). The specific stats and situations might not be the same outside the UK, but the overall ideas Faye discusses are sadly familiar to me. The struggle for trans liberation might look different in different parts of the world, but the theme is the same: we need to go beyond the basics of gender 101, using the correct pronouns, etc. and actively challenge the gender binary and the assumptions we all make about gender on a daily basis. I would love for any cis person who needs more details on these issues to read this book. It can be a lot at points (at least it was for me) in terms of emotions. But it is so, so vital that cis people take the time to educate themselves on the systemic barriers trans people experience every day. I pray for the day that my transness is both unremarkable and also not an afterthought, the day when I can call customer service and not get called “sir” five seconds into the call, the day when we are all free to be who we are without assumptions or judgment. But until that happens, at least I can read thoughtful and essential books like The Transgender Issue, and I hope you do to. Understand that supporting trans people is more than shouting “trans women are women” (though I do appreciate that). It’s about confronting the very real discrimination that exists throughout our society, and using any power you have to tear it down in the name of a better future. Originally posted on Kara.Reviews, where you can easily browse all my reviews and subscribe to my newsletter.

  10. 5 out of 5

    chris

    i cannot praise this book enough — lucid, far-reaching and thorough, faye cuts through the noise surrounding her book’s subject matter to present both the reality of our present moment, and a vision for the future. basically, read it !

  11. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Vital reading for cis allies looking to better understand and equip ourselves with the history and knowledge to work towards trans liberation in the UK. As well as a profound statement on the importance of LGBQ+ solidarity with trans people's rights across healthcare, labour movements, feminism, prison abolition, sex workers rights and education. Readable, informative and most importantly hopeful. Vital reading for cis allies looking to better understand and equip ourselves with the history and knowledge to work towards trans liberation in the UK. As well as a profound statement on the importance of LGBQ+ solidarity with trans people's rights across healthcare, labour movements, feminism, prison abolition, sex workers rights and education. Readable, informative and most importantly hopeful.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Elliott

    I was obviously expecting to agree with Faye’s ideas but I really am impressed with the way she nails every aspect of trans discourse. Her trans liberation movement is intersectional, feminist and socialist to boot!!! And this is the book that is hitting bestseller lists up and down the country! It really does feel like a watershed moment; this could well turn out to be one of those books that shapes The Discourse for years to come, and that can only be a positive thing. Some of my favourite quo I was obviously expecting to agree with Faye’s ideas but I really am impressed with the way she nails every aspect of trans discourse. Her trans liberation movement is intersectional, feminist and socialist to boot!!! And this is the book that is hitting bestseller lists up and down the country! It really does feel like a watershed moment; this could well turn out to be one of those books that shapes The Discourse for years to come, and that can only be a positive thing. Some of my favourite quotes: On pink capitalism: “Corporations can purport to be part of a movement with countercultural and liberationist roots, package that movement as ‘aspirational’ for marketing purposes, and in doing so denude it of all the politics that theatre the capitalist status quo and sell it back to those who can afford it. The idea that conspicuous consumption is a route to sexual and gender freedom has been effective in allowing the LGBT movement’s muscles to atrophy.” On ‘gender critical’ feminists: “That we [trans women] can be both highly at risk of r*pe by men and blamed for r*pe by feminists is made possibly because the media constructs trans women simultaneously as deviant men and as dangerous women. […] Understanding that patriarchy polices and punishes trans women with the same weapons it forged to punish women generally is crucial to understanding why feminism needs trans women to succeed.” On nonbinary identities (I feel seen!!): “When nonbinary people ask for legal recognition or a rethinking of gendered language … they are asking for more freedom for us all … “Non-binary” is only useful insofar as it is a term which can be used to make such ideas legible to policy makers, families, schools and societies. It is a term designed to make conversation easier; it is not the end point. […] Feminist hostility to nonbinary people reasserts the notion of an inescapable biological sex that should be given more social and legal credence than a variant gender identity, a notion that merely replicates patriarchy’s own logic.” And finally the book’s closing paragraph, which is just beautiful! “We are not an ‘issue’ to be debated and derided. We are symbols of hope for many non-trans people, too, who see in our lives the possibility of living more fully and freely. That is why some people hate us: they are frightened by the gleaming opulence of our freedom. Our existence enriches this world.”

  13. 5 out of 5

    Fern Adams

    This is a very powerful, extremely well argued book. I should say from the beginning of this review I wasn’t very aware of the details surrounding transgender issues in the U.K. I knew trans people face horrendous discrimination and abuse and can be painted very negatively by the media but that was about it. This book is excellent at stating factually the experiences of being transgender in the U.K. It takes common anti-transgender arguments (such as transgender people in prisons, children who a This is a very powerful, extremely well argued book. I should say from the beginning of this review I wasn’t very aware of the details surrounding transgender issues in the U.K. I knew trans people face horrendous discrimination and abuse and can be painted very negatively by the media but that was about it. This book is excellent at stating factually the experiences of being transgender in the U.K. It takes common anti-transgender arguments (such as transgender people in prisons, children who aren’t born in the gender they identify with, NHS transition services, disparity between LGTB groups amongst others) and provides statistics, information and backs up why these arguments do not give a full picture. What makes this book especially effective is it takes a factual approach and is presented like an essay, often along more academic lines. It is not a personal story of one person but rather a manifesto pointing out where we are going wrong, where we could be better and simply points out the obvious too; that we all have rights and deserve to be respected. I have a lot of respect for Shon Faye having read this and I suspect this book will shake things up a bit- I think it needs to too as clearly right now we have so far still to go. Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Siobhan

    The Transgender Issue is an insightful book that reclaims the term 'the transgender issue' to explore what it means to be trans in Britain today, how we got here, and where we can go from here. Each chapter explores a different area of life, considering work, healthcare, the prison system, and community, and builds towards a call for solidarity and a focus on trans liberation, rather than rehashing the same 'debates' in the media. I've heard so much about this book even before it's out, and there The Transgender Issue is an insightful book that reclaims the term 'the transgender issue' to explore what it means to be trans in Britain today, how we got here, and where we can go from here. Each chapter explores a different area of life, considering work, healthcare, the prison system, and community, and builds towards a call for solidarity and a focus on trans liberation, rather than rehashing the same 'debates' in the media. I've heard so much about this book even before it's out, and there's a reason why: it is a well-explained and engaging deep dive into trans life in Britain, focusing both on politics and theory and on practical action and everyday realities. Faye considers both issues that impact beyond trans people to other marginalised people and issues specific to trans women, trans men, or non-binary people to draw out the importance of solidarity across issues whilst still paying attention to the specific needs of particular people, for example trans people of colour or sex workers. The dual focus on uncovering the present and past of trans life and on the vital nature of solidarity and trans liberation for the present and future makes The Transgender Issue a powerful book that is for trans and cis people alike. It will open up the eyes of many people to look beyond the 'debates' popularised in the media and think about the practical and political work we can do for the future to make life better for everyone.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bob Hughes

    Shon Faye lends her powerful blend of punchy writing, detailed arguments and deep analysis to this wonderful and crucial book on trans lives, and particularly those in Britain. The book is brilliantly organised and researched, clearly detailing the historical contexts that have not only led us to the paradox of transphobic arguments and trans rights achievements in Britain, but that also shape how we see future struggles for equity and justice. It is to Faye’s immense credit that this book never Shon Faye lends her powerful blend of punchy writing, detailed arguments and deep analysis to this wonderful and crucial book on trans lives, and particularly those in Britain. The book is brilliantly organised and researched, clearly detailing the historical contexts that have not only led us to the paradox of transphobic arguments and trans rights achievements in Britain, but that also shape how we see future struggles for equity and justice. It is to Faye’s immense credit that this book never sinks into despair (despite the horrors that she outlines) nor blind optimism (despite her focus on a manifesto for change. Instead, what we get here is a vibrant and powerfully-argued deconstruction of various arguments used against trans people, and clarifies brilliantly how the fight for trans rights must go hand-in-hand with other struggles, whilst acknowledging the unique ways in which trans people are affected by certain issues, such as for example housing, or the criminalisation of sex work. She intentionally resists the common expectation placed on trans people to only talk about their bodies and their personal stories for a non-trans audience, and instead writes her socks off to produce a startling manifesto for change that is both accessible and very, very good. I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Lena , süße Maus, Esq.

    this book does a great job at both exploring some of the key aspects of trans liberation and outlining how they are interwoven with other struggles for equality in a way that is concise and easy to follow. well structured and well written, 10/10, a joy to have over for afternoon tea, etc.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dannii Elle

    Review to follow.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    FANTASTIC book filled with compassion, determination, and clarity. i see this one being a real mainstay going forward. i especially enjoyed the andrea long chu and sophie lewis shoutouts, which were little treats for me personally, and as always SOUTH BRISTOL GIRLIES STAY WINNING‼️♥️

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    Finally, a UK-specific book on (some) trans experiences that isn't a memoir or anthology! Couldn't recommend enough. Finally, a UK-specific book on (some) trans experiences that isn't a memoir or anthology! Couldn't recommend enough.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Eolann

    When I moved to England from Ireland (with a few other places in between) there were some obvious things that struck me about the country right away; better healthcare system, a worse sense of humour, equally wet weather, and the general disruptions from covid and lockdowns that started a little after I arrived. Aside from these big obvious features, the longer you live in a new country the more you often become slowly attuned to those discrete or idiosyncratic features of the place, which often When I moved to England from Ireland (with a few other places in between) there were some obvious things that struck me about the country right away; better healthcare system, a worse sense of humour, equally wet weather, and the general disruptions from covid and lockdowns that started a little after I arrived. Aside from these big obvious features, the longer you live in a new country the more you often become slowly attuned to those discrete or idiosyncratic features of the place, which often can be completely unremarkable or naturalised to life long residences, but can strike new comers as being specific to the fabric of the place. For me, one of the things that gradually struck the longer I stayed was how much english media, across TV, newspapers, magazines and twitter, was seemingly obsessed with trans people. The fixation on the topic stretched across political affiliations, from highbrow to tabloid, and recurred endlessly over weeks and months, repeating the same few flash points and arguments. Sometimes it feels like the only two topics that have stretched continously over the period has been covid and alarm around trans people; even the royal family get breaks every once and a while. The sheer uninterrupted flood of articles and commentary means that there must be a responsive audience eager to click and buy, even though they are strikingly uniform and repetitive; regardless of the platform, the same tone of hostily and paranoia against trans people is almost invariably used. Coming from Ireland, its quite unusual to go to another country and see a media system which seems in any way more conformist and imitative, but in this area the UK manages it. Really in general I wouldn't think of Irish institutions as vessels of radical subversion; which is why the apocalyptic manner in which UK media covered a proposed revision to the legal process for changing gender (which would have mirrored the law as it currently operates in Ireland), as a post modern assault on women's rights and freedoms, seemed so detached from reality in a way that was endemic of uk coverage on trans people. In this context, it was enormously refreshing to read "The Trangender Issue". While the books arguments have a broader applicability,it is especally interesting to read a UK perspective discussing why the country's public discourse is so frankly deranged around trans people, and refreshing to hear this from a trans person after the gallery of cis people that have have pushing and dominated the discussion until now. Across a few thematic chapters, Shon Faye manages to disengage from the rote talking points that are repeated ad nauseum in english media and refocus on what she sees as the key issues affecting trans people today; examines and articulates the source of the immense hostility against trans people in general, and how this manifests in England in particular, with collaboration between social conservatives and certain feminists; and situates a call for trans rights within a larger argument for socialism and anti-imperialism. The last argument was for me the most interesting and original to read. Calls for trans rights are often made in a spirit of sympathy or charity; Faye very forcefully sets out to show that trans people's particular experiences of forces such as poverty, state violence and patriarchy means they are key and central actors in efforts against these forces, rather than being charity cases or passive benifcaries: "There can be no trans liberation under capitalism". Even when discussing the driving role that some English feminists play in formenting hostity against trans people Faye is very clear that it is not the goal for trans people to be passively integrated or allowed into feminism: "the case for inclusivity can often rest on whether it is kind to welcome trans women, rather than any serious consideration of why their inclusion might be politically nessecary for liberation from patriarchy... the reality, I would argue, is this: not only do trans people need feminism, but feminism also needs trans people". Overall I found this book to remind me a a lot of "Revolting Prosititutes", which similary tried to reframe the terms of discussion around sex work, while incorporating a wider argument for leftist political radicalism. I was more engaged by "Revolting Prosititutes", perhaps because I was more ignorant on the subject matter and so was given much more food for thought, but certainly "The Transgender Issue" has also informed or reframed a lot of my thinking, which has to be one of the key success a non-fiction manifesto can accomplish.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Betts

    I was really expecting (and wanting) to love this book and be writing a 5-star review right now. However, although there is no doubt that Shon has dedicated a lot of time and effort in writing a well-researched and extensive account of "The Transgender Issue", for me the writing style was a huge letdown that meant much of the important and vital information was lost. Compared with other books I've read on similar themes, it felt very academic, full of jargon and with questionable flow. The main I was really expecting (and wanting) to love this book and be writing a 5-star review right now. However, although there is no doubt that Shon has dedicated a lot of time and effort in writing a well-researched and extensive account of "The Transgender Issue", for me the writing style was a huge letdown that meant much of the important and vital information was lost. Compared with other books I've read on similar themes, it felt very academic, full of jargon and with questionable flow. The main exceptions for me were the discussions around the ineffective prison system and the discourse within feminism and the LGBTQ+ community, which in general felt more engaging. For such an important topic, i would prefer to see a more accessible analysis that allows people of all different backgrounds to read and understand. Nonetheless, given the many 5-star reviews, i recognise that perhaps i was just not in the right head space for this book at this time, and perhaps returning to it again in a few years time will give a different perspective. Either way, I'm looking forward to discussing it at my next book club!

  22. 4 out of 5

    l.

    intellectually dishonest, can't read this. faye criticizes someone for conflating trans children with trans adults, but then does a similar slippage - stating critics of mermaids refer to it as a 'child sex change charity', then stating that prior to puberty, it only helps children socially transition. well, children post-puberty are still children. also mermaid promotes children going on puberty blockers, which according to the keira bell judgement, are a clear pathway to taking cross-sex hormon intellectually dishonest, can't read this. faye criticizes someone for conflating trans children with trans adults, but then does a similar slippage - stating critics of mermaids refer to it as a 'child sex change charity', then stating that prior to puberty, it only helps children socially transition. well, children post-puberty are still children. also mermaid promotes children going on puberty blockers, which according to the keira bell judgement, are a clear pathway to taking cross-sex hormones. found a few other similar examples of this and i didn't get far into it.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amelia Horgan

    A brilliant book from a very smart thinker and much needed intervention. the central claim - that the media framing of trans issues ideologically denies the realities of trans life, joy, struggle etc - is lucid, cogent & urgent. this distortion not only enacts and justifies bigotry but is a barrier to thinking and acting politically. The book makes a much needed and very well expressed call for solidarity and for coalition. you simply must read it (and pass it on to everyone else you know)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jeffrey Ingold

    This is a landmark book that makes a thorough, intelligent & compassionate case as to why trans liberation benefits *all* of us - not just trans people. If you have ever had any questions about trans issues, this is the book for you. Shon’s writing is precise, analytical & empirical, but also heartfelt, passionate and surprisingly funny at times. You will not regret reading this book. In fact, you will want to read it again and share it far & wide.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Holly Cruise

    Books which cut through current events, especially those surrounded by a lot of hysteria in the media, are always valuable and useful, and The Transgender Issue manages to be just that while also being well written and engaging. As a cis lesbian who supports trans rights, and has done for nearly two decades, I already knew quite a lot of what Faye covers. In fact I already knew some of the exact wording because I went to a very interesting, and at times funny, author interview between Faye and Ch Books which cut through current events, especially those surrounded by a lot of hysteria in the media, are always valuable and useful, and The Transgender Issue manages to be just that while also being well written and engaging. As a cis lesbian who supports trans rights, and has done for nearly two decades, I already knew quite a lot of what Faye covers. In fact I already knew some of the exact wording because I went to a very interesting, and at times funny, author interview between Faye and Christine Burns which is where I bought this book. It managed the golden requirement of a 5* review in these cases: it laid out what I already knew in beautifully written passages, and it still managed to teach me a bunch of things I didn't already know. This book looks at the bigger picture. It's not just about giving trans people their rights and their say, it's also about how they are tied into our society and how changes which would benefit them would benefit many more people besides. This ran from addressing issues in healthcare and the legal status of sex workers, through to how we can make life better for cis people by releasing us from the expectations imposed by society's rigid views on gender.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    "We are not an 'issue' to be debated or derided. We are symbols of hope for many non-trans people, too, who see in our lives the possibility of living more fully and freely. That is why some people hate us: they are frightened by the gleaming opulence of our freedom. Our existence enriches this world." well-researched, well-paced and incredibly well-explained. a must read for both trans and cis people alike. "We are not an 'issue' to be debated or derided. We are symbols of hope for many non-trans people, too, who see in our lives the possibility of living more fully and freely. That is why some people hate us: they are frightened by the gleaming opulence of our freedom. Our existence enriches this world." well-researched, well-paced and incredibly well-explained. a must read for both trans and cis people alike.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Robyn King

    Brilliant and essential reading

  28. 4 out of 5

    not_the_actual_frantisek_skala

    For some reason, I expected this would be more of a theoretical or philosophical treatise (perhaps because of the title?), but, in fact, it’s very much a factual account of the oppression that trans people face (mainly in the UK and the US) with suggestions on what needs to be done (articulated from a socialist perspective). Very entry-level (Faye takes great care to explain every term, position, and theory) without being superficial, and really comprehensive as it manages to cover everything fr For some reason, I expected this would be more of a theoretical or philosophical treatise (perhaps because of the title?), but, in fact, it’s very much a factual account of the oppression that trans people face (mainly in the UK and the US) with suggestions on what needs to be done (articulated from a socialist perspective). Very entry-level (Faye takes great care to explain every term, position, and theory) without being superficial, and really comprehensive as it manages to cover everything from trans children to feminist or LGB transphobia. Definitely recommended

  29. 4 out of 5

    Don Verte

    Really brilliant. Utterly incisive and forensic. just a great easy-access read. Whether you’ve read a lot about trans people’s experience in the UK or not, it is a great introduction as well as further insight for those who may have read more.

  30. 4 out of 5

    books4chess

    "By their nature, charities exist to plug holes into social welfare... While in Britain the sector has achieved much to be celebrated, particularly in work with trans youth, they are always firefighting in a building that actually needs to be rebuilt". Shon Faye is a marvellous writer. She clearly outlines the history, misrepresentation and current circumstances transgender people go through today, in a clear, engaging manner. The writing is suitable for anyone, regardless of your previous unders "By their nature, charities exist to plug holes into social welfare... While in Britain the sector has achieved much to be celebrated, particularly in work with trans youth, they are always firefighting in a building that actually needs to be rebuilt". Shon Faye is a marvellous writer. She clearly outlines the history, misrepresentation and current circumstances transgender people go through today, in a clear, engaging manner. The writing is suitable for anyone, regardless of your previous understanding, as she is extremely thorough. I wasn't aware how little I knew until reading the book. Alongside common problem areas, Shon offers case studies, suggestions of suitable direction for change and avoids falling into tropes she declares as all too common for trans writers, including oversharing and focusing on physical transitions. It was eye-opening to see that the medical battles faced - GP's unfamiliar with the correct processes and overly long referral periods, are so similar to the pelvic pain challenges so many women face in the UK. It raises questions over the training of anything that strays from 'traditional problems' and the need to update medical training. Overly complicated processes, doctors with misguided advice and a lot of emotional distress for the person going through the motions. Hopefully with time, both of these will become problems of the past. I look forward to continuing to follow Shon's writing in the future and learning more. Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC.

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