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    A Beginner Archivist Reading List on Trans History, Culture, and Politics

    The transgender symbol, created by Nancy Nangeroni in 1994 and popularized by 2002. The original symbol was surrounded by an upside-down triangle, similar to a yield sign in the US.

    Early this morning, as I scrolled through the #trans tag on Tumblr, I encountered a post pleading for any recommendations for books on the trans movement written by trans authors. An hour later, I reblogged the post with a starter pack of books and articles for the original poster as well as anyone interested. Right after I published the post, I realized that many of y'all on this wiki, especially those who've like my posts on research and culture, would find the reading list pretty neat.

    I've adapted my post for the wiki, using some of the formatting tricks here to break up the text better than I could originally. Any links to books are to Internet Archive and other archive pages and occasionally storefront pages when digitally archived versions can't be found. The original post is available here.

    While I've put "archivist" in the title, these recommendations are just as good for someone taking a gender, women's, and sexuality studies (GWSS), history, or cultural studies course or someone just curious about trans history. Keep in mind that while trans history is pretty neat, it isn't pretty, and many accounts of trans history discuss transphobia and homophobia as well as ableism, racism, and sexism.


    Cover of Transgender Warriors.

    Without a doubt, Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue and Transgender Warriors: From Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman by Leslie Feinberg are great places to start. Both books were written in the 90s and created the modern definition of trans (as in, the trans umbrella) and trans rights (solidarity under the umbrella). Personally, I also like xir cool and casual writing style, and the gallery of images of all sorts of trans people at the end of Transgender Warriors makes me emotional.

    Other awesome history-leaning trans books by trans authors include:

    Adjacent honorable mentions include Jen Manion's Female Husbands: A Trans History on "female husbands," AFAB people attracted to and marrying women who were publicly and often privately men, and cis author Michael Bronski's A Queer History of the United States that helps place trans history within the greater context of LGBTQ history.

    Great culture- and politics-leaning trans books by trans authors include:

    These eight books (ten with the honorable mentions) have helped me build a robust foundation for studying and recognizing trans history (in the US, at least), and I believe that they are essential for anyone else interested in trans history, too.


    Page from Thomas Blount's Glossographia, or A Dictionary, 1656. The page defines transection as "a turning or passing from one sex to another" and transfeminate as "to turn from women to man, or from one sex to another."

    While the OP asked for books, I also suggested individual articles and manifestos, as well.

    Great intro scholarly articles on transness and the English language include Talia Bettcher's "Trapped in the Wrong Theory: Re-Thinking Trans Oppression and Resistance" and Joseph Gamble's "Toward a Trans Philology." An article on the relationship between trans politics and feminism, both pro-trans and trans-exclusive, that is way easier to access is Bettcher's "Feminist Perspectives on Trans Issues" in the completely online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

    Two important manifestos in the spirit of Feinberg are Emi Koyama's "The Transfeminist Manifesto" and Alyson Escalante's "Gender Nihilism."

    These five articles specifically provide a rich baseline for terminology and the philosophical culture wars around transness.

    Other Sources

    A lot of the books and articles I know about focus on the US and UK and the English language but obviously that doesn't fully encompass all trans experiences. This is where the LGBTA Wiki, especially the entries on exclusive genders helps. From experience revising the Meti page here and subsequently on Wikipedia, some pages may be copied from Wikipedia entries that are poorly constructed themselves. However, just having the terms and something about them is worth understanding non-Western trans experiences and trans experiences in the Global South.

    When all else fails, the archive Trans Reads has many digitized readings (including books, articles, and zines) on trans history, culture, and politics, including many mentioned throughout this post. Created with a similar spirit, the Tumblr blog Trans History is an archive of, well, fragments of trans history through images of writing and art, although the blog hasn't updated since June 2020.


    Trans history is super interesting, and I'm glad people want to know more. This reading list is seven years in the making, and I've got plenty more recommendations. I hope OP found it helpful and that y'all have, too.

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