(Reviewed by Ishita RC)
Trans Voices is an enlightening book that accounts the voices of those who have opted to accept their real self by transitioning.
The book is a rich account, comprised of over 100 interviews with individuals who came forward with their various challenges and experiences they faced while making the journey of transitioning – from male-to-female and female-to-male. From a range of topics like hormone treatments, reassignment surgeries, sex and sexuality, emotional and mental health, legal issues, this book is a know-it-all guidance into the world of transgenders. This will benefit those who are ignorant, biased, phobics or are currently undergoing something similar.
“It is important not to forget that being a trans person is entirely about gender and is independent of sexual orientation. Trans people can be lesbian, gay, bisexual or heterosexual, just like everybody else. These days, being trans is an issue that is steadily becoming more visible, more talked about and ultimately more acceptable, after centuries of suppression and denial.”
I am not ashamed to admit to the fact that I have been largely ignorant and little scared of the whole community of trangenders. I can attribute this mostly to the fact that the Hijra community of India (male to female trans people) have a tendency of becoming more aggressive and scare the shit out of me. As a result I have opted for ignorance. But curiosity made me pick this book, and I can safely say that I haven’t regretted my choice. This is a book that has a solid foundation on research and evidence to validate each point. There are things that I didn’t know about as a bystander, especially how to identify such a person considering the ambiguity in the gender, not to mention the general lack of awareness. Thanks to the various interviews, there are many questions that have been answered.
“With regard to what pronoun to use when speaking to or about a trans person, it is important to remember that a person’s gender identity can differ from their appearance or the pitch of their voice. We should only use gendered pronouns such as ‘he’ or ‘she’ if we are certain that a person identifies themselves in that way. If we are not sure which pronoun to use, it is better to ask politely rather than make assumptions. It is also advised to ask non-binary people what pronoun they prefer because some dislike being referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’, preferring instead the more ambiguous pronouns of ‘they’ and ‘them’. Cross-dressers like their persona to be referred to with a female pronoun when dressed in female clothing. “
The candid viewpoints provided by the various interviews helps in making the book feel like a journey; it definitely helps the reader in connecting and keeping pace. The clarity in the way the book has been divided reflects the diversity that is present within a community that is a minority and largely ignored, stigmatised and trivialised.
The only thing that didn’t sit well with me would be the referencing of some of the medical or scientific statements. Though the author has provided a list of references that has been used, it does feel inadequate considering the vastness of a subject that is rarely talked about.
In spite of that, I loved the book, and it’s much recommended!