Blog, Book Reviews, Social Justice

The Transgender Issue: Review & Suggested Reading

The Transgender Issue and related texts

[cw: transphobia, homophobia, misogyny, sexual assault, rape, hate crime, sexual violence, suicide]

The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye ultimately acts as an extensive deep dive into the current state of politics affecting the trans community today, both in the U.S. and the U.K. Faye, a trans woman, tackles subjects such as the State, racism, classism, health care, and the media. As well, Faye uses this platform to discuss the often glossed-over exclusion of the trans community by both the “traditional” feminist scene and the LGBTQ+ community.  

The Transgender Issue should be required reading for any and all underrepresented and misrepresented communities (especially those within the LGBTQ+ community), as well as anyone who considers themselves an ally, an abolitionist, a feminist, etc. Between the application of universal health care, the decriminalization and legalization of sex work, capitalism, the prison system, and feminism — all things that affect each of us individually, every single day — there is something to be learned from this book. Most notably, this book highlights the importance of the liberation of our trans siblings because, without their freedom, we ourselves shall never be free. 

Much is tackled within this book. With each topic/chapter carrying a deep and extensive history of its own, it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the related texts mentioned in the book in order to better understand it as a whole. For this reason, I have composed this list of recommended readings: 

We Too: Essays on Sex Work and Survival | Edited by Natalie West with Tina Horn 

The conversation of sex work has been a fluid part of our (socio) politics both in the U.S. and the U.K. for forever, often in the form of commentary about class, health care, violence, and sexism, with disproportional effects on women of color and the trans community as a whole. In The Transgender Issue, there is a whole chapter dedicated to this topic. We Too, a Feminist Press publication, is a collection of essays written by current or past sex workers depicting the current state of sex work in the U.S., the highs, the lows, and the often empowering nature of the work. Through a wheel of various voices and identities, the book makes it clear that today is the perfect time to be advocating for agency and accountability within the sex industry. 

Are Prisons Obsolete? | Dr. Angela Y. Davis 

In the chapter discussing the prison system, Are Prisons Obsolete? is referenced and quoted multiple times. In just over 100 pages, Davis, an activist and scholar previously and wrongly incarcerated for a crime she did not commit, breaks down the prison system’s silent yet growing grip on western capitalism. Within this text, Davis breaks down how both sexism and gender normativity disproportionately affect women as a whole and those in the trans community as well.  

Freedom is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement | Dr. Angela Y. Davis  

Dr. Davis does not miss. Via a short collection of essays, interviews, and speeches, Davis discusses Michael Brown, the conflict in Palestine, and the industrial prison complex. Though not always directly, Davis speaks extensively about how feminism fits into these topics and concerns (and in the process accurately predicts the conversations of today). Published in 2015, this was the first feminist text I’ve ever read that explicitly went out of its way to include trans women and the non-binary community in the conversation. It is still limited in company. 

The End of Policing | Alex S. Vitale  

We have established that between the prison system and the criminalization of sex work, abolition and police reform are necessary attributes to the liberation of not only the trans community but for the liberation of us all. In The End of Policing, Vitale walks us through the history of our current police state, its issues, and — with every topic/concern presented — a city, area, and organization that is currently utilizing and/or applying a successful system of abolition and/or reform within its community. 

After Sappho | Selby Wynn Schwartz 

The LGBTQ+ community is often categorized as one, thus tossing together and (often indirectly) erasing the individual histories that make up each community involved. This has created much conflict over historical accreditation. An example of this would be Stonewall and which community gets to rep the first punch and/or the first brick tossed. The Transgender Issue explores this deeply in its chapter breaking down “the T in LGBT.” After Sappho, though a loose historical fiction, depicts both the unity and the individual success of lesbian women and the trans community in the fight for women and queer rights in 20th-century Europe.  

Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race | Reni Eddo-Lodge 

Though new to some, the critique and exclusion of women of color and the trans community in mainstream feminism run deep. Though it is generally acknowledged amongst talking circles that women of color, queer women of color, and the trans community as a whole have created and led many of the feminist campaigns and language we use today, these same people are erased from history and ignored in present-day conversations regarding issues that almost always disproportionately affect them. It is becoming quite impossible to discuss feminism today without addressing this. Thankfully for writers like Shon Faye and Eddo-Lodge, we have books like The Transgender Issue and Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race. It should be noted that both texts sit more comfortably in British society but, from personal experience, I can promise you that white is white everywhere.  


  1. Sophie

    I’ve been looking at reading this recently! I’m so glad you reviewed it. It’s seems like a fantastic read, and I can’t wait to pick it up!

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