Finding reliable information on the trans experience is tough these days. There is so much anti-transgender fear mongering and manipulation of science going on online.
I ran up against this issue pretty recently when I was trying to source some informative books, more for my own edification than anything else. I’m the first to admit that beyond my own personal experience I do not have a lot of history with trans people. I have one trans friend, which I have come to find is kind of a rare thing, even among other trans people.
Ideally this guide will be found by people at all stages of their gender journey, as I believe everyone has something to learn. But, I do hope that this guide finds people who have thus far only interacted with people who are cisgender, as I feel like this is the kind of thing that I could have used when I was that person.
When I was on the hunt to find resources to better communicate my experience to the people who care about me, I wanted a one stop resource to point people to if they were interested in learning more about trans people. So, let’s start with some generally reliable sources of information on the basics of what transness is, how people come to understand that they are trans, and how varied this experience truly is.
TransLash Media – An excellent resource for timely information and hard hitting investigative journalism on topics that are relevant to everyone.
them.us – I recently found this blog to be a great resource for news and informative cultural articles.
TransJoy Blog – I can’t forget to recommend my own site, which is written entirely by trans people, about our own experiences. I also have to recommend the collection of the Weekly Shortcut Newsletter, which recently sent out its last issue. Simply enter your name and email address here, and you can get all ten issues of the Weekly Shortcut Newsletter right to your inbox!
Gender Reveal – Podcast hosted by the incomparable Tuck Woodstock. Currently on it’s 7th season, this is the perfect time to binge all 6 seasons of this great podcast that uses interviews to explore what exactly gender is.
TransLash Podcast – Hosted by Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist Imara Jones, this podcast tells trans stories to save trans lives. They promote trans owned businesses and have a great Instagram page which I think everyone should follow.
Youtube Channels that Feature Information on the Trans Experience:
CopsHateMoe – Newer channel from a great non-binary creator. Super informed take on the goings on in the greater trans community online.
Ashton Daniel – This is a recent find. Ashton has been making videos online for years, but really started gaining traction on the site in the past year or two. They make great videos about a range of topics from his experiences working at a transphobic sleep-away camp this past summer, to stellar book reviews.
Jammidodger – Long time YouTuber that produces funny, wholesome, and informative content.
Ty Turner – Ty produces very funny, and interesting content from his perspective as a trans man living in conservative America.
Kat Blaque – Another creator who offers very salient points on everything from sex and body positivity to pop culture.
Milo Stewart – This particular creator’s videos have deeply informed my understanding of nonbinary identities. I will be the first to admit that I did not understand the concept of being nonbinary until I started watching this wonderful person’s content. They have an excellent video series on how using they/them pronouns for people who do not use them can be misgendering. Absolutely amazing stuff that I wish would be shown in every workplace, it is that informative and helpful.
Jessie Gender – Super well researched, long form videos that offer clarity and nuance to issues and debates that are often difficult to understand and engage with respectfully. Fantastic content, well worth watching all the way to the end.
ContraPoints – Great long form content. Very informed perspective on issues ranging from politics to bigotry.
There are, of course, more YouTubers out there and tons of great content, but I am only offering a jumping off point.
Scientific American (in general, a great source of information)
Science Daily (also a great resource for the latest in research news)
HRT and Puberty Blockers:
Books on the Trans Experience:
Transgender History by Susan Stryker
The Queer Bible edited by Jack Guinness
Miss Major Speaks by Miss Major (which you can preorder here)
There Are Trans People Here by H. Melt
Fierce Femmes and Notorious Liars by Kai Cheng Thom
Gender Dysphoria Bible – This can sound a bit intimidating to people early on in their transition, at least it was for me. But the minute I took the plunge I found a treasure trove of digestible and compassionate information on the multitude of ways that dysphoria can be present in your life. I was finally able to gain some insight into why I have been going through such a tough time.
A good place to start for readers of all ages is this list.
General Tips on Sourcing Reliable Information Online:
1. Find the citations. Independently verify if possible. – If you’re reading or watching something that is making statistical or scientific claims there should be a section below the article or video that contains the source of these statistics. If this is not present, the article or video is not a reliable source, as reliable sources are able to be independently verified!
2. Is this information up to date? – This has been important in understanding information on the trans experience as a whole. While there is not nearly enough research on trans and gender non-conforming individuals, what has been published just these past 2 years has contributed greatly to building a base of scientific representation of the trans community. A lot of people like to claim there is no scientific basis for the trans experience, when in fact the scientific understanding of gender as a binary has been under scrutiny for years and the most recent research does, in fact, support the biological existence of trans people. (Theisen et al.)
I would caution you to not focus too much energy trying to understand this type of information on the trans experience. Proving the “biological existence” of a population that we know has existed since people have existed is not generally important in understanding the lived experiences of this population.
3. Determine purpose and reliability of information. – Some questions to assess the purpose and reliability of an article:
– For whom has this article been created? Scholars, scientists, or for the general public?
– What is the purpose of this article? To provide information? To argue a point? To convince the reader to support a political position? All of these purposes would result in a different article from the same source information, which is why the purpose of a piece is an important factor to consider.
– What institution (company, government, university, etc.) supports this information? A news organization is NOT itself, alone, a reliable institution. All news articles should have reliable and properly cited source materials.
-If it is an institution, have you heard of it before? Can you find more information about it?
– Is there a non-Web equivalent of this material that would provide a way of verifying its legitimacy i.e. a regularly published in print journal?
Skim through the points in this tutorial from Georgetown University on evaluating Internet sources.
Wrapping it all up
I feel I should include a good mental health and suicide hotline from the Trevor Project: 1-866-488-7386. They have a lot of experience with LGBTQ+ people and have proven helpful to me personally in the past. The trans experience does not preclude suicidality, but they do often go hand in hand, especially in people under 25, for whom this hotline was specifically made.
This is something I feel that people who love trans people don’t understand. So, if you are a parent, partner, or friend of a trans person, consider how the news of another murdered trans person affects the person you love.
Every few days there are reports of another murdered trans person and it does affect us. It’s a constant reminder that the world as a whole is not for us, because no matter how supportive the people in our lives are, there are plenty of people who would like us dead. Consider using the above hotline, or joining a group for friends and family of transgender people if you are unsure how to approach these types of conversations.
Ultimately, I hope this article can function as a jumping off point for deeper research into being transgender and understanding LGBTQ+ peoples lived experiences a little better. And remember, the best source of information on the trans experience is trans people themselves. Speak to trans people, start conversations with us about our experiences, just be sure to do so in a respectful and earnest manner.
And if someone tells you that they are not up for discussing this type of stuff, be respectful of that. Trans people already deal with a lot of rude and invasive questions, and are generally forced to advocate for ourselves and other trans people on the daily. Do your own research to get the broad strokes, and then go to your trans friends to learn about the little things if you are still genuinely curious. Be sure to let me know what else I should include in the comments below!
Complement this deep dive into queerness with another dive into queer internet history.
Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University. “Gene variants provide insight into brain, body incongruence in transgender.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 February 2020. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/02/200205084203.htm>.
Journal reference for above article:
J. Graham Theisen, Viji Sundaram, Mary S. Filchak, Lynn P. Chorich, Megan E. Sullivan, James Knight, Hyung-Goo Kim, Lawrence C. Layman. The Use of Whole Exome Sequencing in a Cohort of Transgender Individuals to Identify Rare Genetic Variants. Scientific Reports, 2019; 9 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-019-53500-y