Rainbow Rant: New Year's resolution reading recommendations

Joy Ellison

The internet is an invaluable tool for the LGBT community, but it doesn't foster the deep listening we need to understand each other better. In 2019, take your understanding of the transgender community beyond Tumblr and make it your New Year's resolution to read an entire book by a trans author. Here are my reading recommendations:

Redefining Realness andSurpassing Certainty: What My Twenties Taught Me by Janet Mock

In her first memoir, Janet Mock provides an accessible and engrossing window into her childhood as a black, Hawaiian transgender woman. In her next book, Mock chronicles the lessons she learned in her 20s. Mock is remarkable for her ability to contextualize her experiences within black, queer and feminist literature traditions.

Normal Life by Dean Spade

Lawyer and activist Dean Spade describes how transgender people are oppressed by everyday institutions, including schools, hospitals, welfare offices and prisons. He argues for a transgender movement that demands more than civil rights and legal protections, instead focusing on addressing the needs of the most vulnerable people in our community. If you read only one book about transgender politics, make it Normal Life.

When the Chant Comes by Kay Ulanday Barrett

Kay Ulanday Barrett is a disabled, Fillipinx artist, who knows how to write poems that ease the spirit and inspire action. Their poetry weaves together queer love affairs, sick beds, family and diaspora to tell a new and necessary transgender story.

Brilliant Imperfection by Eli Clare

In this challenging book, disabled genderqueer writer Eli Clare proves that transgender people are making important contributions to our understandings of many different social identities. Clare examines the impact of the concept of “cure” on multiple oppressed communities. He argues that attempts to cure disabled people justify violence against them. He draws connections between ableist oppression and the abuse of people of color, transgender people and our planet. Clare is committed to avoiding easy answers, instead pointing out new ways to support each other. This book will change how you think about everything from top surgery, to prairie ecology, to the legacy of slavery.

The Boy & the Bindi by Vivek Shraya

If you want to start a conversation about gender with the children in your life, this exquisite picture book will help. When a 5-year-old South Asian boy becomes entranced by his mother's bindi, she encourages his curiosity. Vivek Shraya, a multitalented musician and writer, shares the cultural significance of the bindi, while encouraging children to be themselves without apology.