Exploring Identities Resources

  • October 15, 2021


Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More

WLF Identities Committee Book Club Presentation

Janet Mock 

New York Times Bestseller • Winner of the 2015 WOMEN'S WAY Book Prize • Goodreads Best of 2014 Semi-Finalist • Books for a Better Life Award Finalist • Lambda Literary Award Finalist • Time Magazine “30 Most Influential People on the Internet” • American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book

Janet Mock is one of culture’s most prominent trans activists, and the first black trans woman to direct an episode of television through her work on the series Pose. With unflinching honesty and moving prose, Janet Mock relays her experiences of growing up young, multiracial, poor, and trans in America, offering readers accessible language while imparting vital insight about the unique challenges and vulnerabilities of a marginalized and misunderstood population. Though undoubtedly an account of one woman’s quest for self at all costs, Redefining Realness is a powerful vision of possibility and self-realization, pushing us all toward greater acceptance of one another—and of ourselves—showing as never before how to be unapologetic and real.

Middlesex: A Novel 

Jeffrey Eugenides

Oprah's Book Club • Middlesex is the winner of the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction

"I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day of January 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of l974. . . My birth certificate lists my name as Calliope Helen Stephanides. My most recent driver's license...records my first name simply as Cal."

So begins the breathtaking story of Calliope Stephanides and three generations of the Greek-American Stephanides family who travel from a tiny village overlooking Mount Olympus in Asia Minor to Prohibition-era Detroit, witnessing its glory days as the Motor City, and the race riots of l967, before they move out to the tree-lined streets of suburban Grosse Pointe, Michigan. To understand why Calliope is not like other girls, she has to uncover a guilty family secret and the astonishing genetic history that turns Callie into Cal, one of the most audacious and wondrous narrators in contemporary fiction. Lyrical and thrilling, Middlesex is an exhilarating reinvention of the American epic.

Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women, and the Rest of Us

Kate Bornstein

“I know I’m not a man . . . and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m probably not a woman, either. . . . . The trouble is, we’re living in a world that insists we be one or the other.” With these words, Kate Bornstein ushers readers on a funny, fearless, and wonderfully scenic journey across the terrains of gender and identity. On one level, Gender Outlaw details Bornstein’s transformation from heterosexual male to lesbian woman, from a one-time IBM salesperson to a playwright and performance artist. But this particular coming-of-age story is also a provocative investigation into our notions of male and female, from a self-described nonbinary transfeminine diesel femme dyke who never stops questioning our cultural assumptions.

Gender Outlaw was decades ahead of its time when it was first published in 1994. Now, some twenty-odd years later, this book stands as both a classic and a still-revolutionary work—one that continues to push us gently but profoundly to the furthest borders of the gender frontier. 

The Left Hand of Darkness

Ursula K. Le Guin

Winner of the Hugo and Nebula Awards

A futuristic world with ambisexual inhabitants provides a setting in which the culture surrounding gender is explored, and certainly illuminates the way those from more strictly gendered societies interact with an idealized gender-neutral culture. It also postulates what the world would be like without gender roles, a perfect example of sci-fi laced with social commentary.

A lone human ambassador is sent to the icebound planet of Winter, a world without sexual prejudice, where the inhabitants’ gender is fluid. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the strange, intriguing culture he encounters...

Stone Butch Blues

Leslie Feinberg

This is definitely a classic novel that explores butch identity and the blurred lines between masculine and feminine. The novel’s protagonist, Jess, is found dressing in her father’s clothes and is sent to a psychiatric ward by her parents. Eventually she finds an affirming community of queers, drag queens, and other butches who help her learn how to navigate the world, and later begins to take testosterone and pass as male (and even later, stops this process and lives gender-neutral). Though there is trauma, Jess and her community fight for their rights and validity, all while navigating romance and relationships. 

A 20th anniversary edition was published before the writer died in 2014, and in an author’s note, Feinberg wrote that “with this novel I planted a flag: Here I am — does anyone else want to discuss these important issues?” Feinberg made the book available for free.

Black on Both Sides: A Racial History of Trans Identity

C. Riley Snorton

The story of Christine Jorgensen, America’s first prominent transsexual, famously narrated trans embodiment in the postwar era. Her celebrity, however, has obscured other mid-century trans narratives—ones lived by African Americans such as Lucy Hicks Anderson and James McHarris. Their erasure from trans history masks the profound ways race has figured prominently in the construction and representation of transgender subjects. In Black on Both Sides, C. Riley Snorton identifies multiple intersections between blackness and transness from the mid-nineteenth century to present-day anti-black and anti-trans legislation and violence.

Holy Wild

Gwen Benaway

Winner of the 2019 Governor General's Literary Award for Poetry • Finalist for the 2019 Trillium Book Award for Poetry • Finalist for the 2019 Lambda Literary Awards – Transgender Poetry Category • Finalist for the 2019 Publishing Triangle Awards – Trans and Gender-Variant Literature Category • Longlisted for the 2019 Pat Lowther Memorial Award

In her third collection of poetry, Holy Wild, Gwen Benaway explores the complexities of being an Indigenous trans women in expansive lyric poems. She holds up the Indigenous trans body as a site of struggle, liberation, and beauty. A confessional poet, Benaway narrates her sexual and romantic intimacies with partners as well as her work to navigate the daily burden of transphobia and violence. She examines the intersections of Indigenous and trans experience through autobiographical poems and continues to speak to the legacy of abuse, violence, and colonial erasure that defines Canada. Her sparse lines, interwoven with English and Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe), illustrate the wonder and power of Indigenous trans womanhood in motion. Holy Wild is not an easy book, as Benaway refuses to give any simple answers, but it is a profoundly vibrant and beautiful work filled with a transcendent grace.

Alex As Well

Alyssa Brugman

Another novel featuring an intersex protagonist, this story focuses on AMAB Alex, who decides to start presenting feminine, which presents logistical complications when she enrolls in a new school. This brings up issues many trans/gender-nonconforming youth face as they simply try to exist in society. The importance placed on gender markers when it comes to birth certificates, licenses, etc. becomes a fight for rights that others take for granted. It also deals with Alex’s parents, who do not support her decision to present female, and the tension this brings into the family. This might be triggering for some, but ultimately important in the way it presents a protagonist who just wants to be accepted.

Nonbinary: Memoirs of Gender and Identity

Micah Rajunov (Editor), Scott Duane (Editor) & various contributors

What happens when your gender doesn’t fit neatly into the categories of male or female? Even mundane interactions like filling out a form or using a public bathroom can be a struggle when these designations prove inadequate. In this ground breaking book, thirty authors highlight how our experiences are shaped by a deeply entrenched gender binary.

The powerful first-person narratives of this collection show us a world where gender exists along a spectrum, a web, a multidimensional space. Nuanced storytellers break away from mainstream portrayals of gender diversity, cutting across lines of age, race, ethnicity, ability, class, religion, family, and relationships. From Suzi, who wonders whether she’ll ever “feel” like a woman after living fifty years as a man, to Aubri, who grew up in a cash-strapped fundamentalist household, to Sand, who must reconcile the dual roles of trans advocate and therapist, the writers’ conceptions of gender are inextricably intertwined with broader systemic issues. Labeled gender outlaws, gender rebels, genderqueer, or simply human, the voices in Nonbinary illustrate what life could be if we allowed the rigid categories of “man” and “woman” to loosen and bend. They speak to everyone who has questioned gender or has paused to wonder, what does it mean to be a man or a woman―and why do we care so much?

Gender Queer: A Memoir

Maia Kobabe

2020 ALA Alex Award Winner • 2020 Stonewall — Israel Fishman Non-fiction Award Honor Book.

In 2014, Maia Kobabe, who uses e/em/eir pronouns, thought that a comic of reading statistics would be the last autobiographical comic e would ever write. At the time, it was the only thing e felt comfortable with strangers knowing about em. Now, Gender Queer is here. Maia’s intensely cathartic autobiography charts eir journey of self-identity, which includes the mortification and confusion of adolescent crushes, grappling with how to come out to family and society, bonding with friends over erotic gay fanfiction, and facing the trauma and fundamental violation of pap smears.

Started as a way to explain to eir family what it means to be nonbinary and asexual, Gender Queer is more than a personal story: it is a useful and touching guide on gender identity—what it means and how to think about it—for advocates, friends, and humans everywhere.

"It’s also a great resource for those who identify as nonbinary or asexual as well as for those who know someone who identifies that way and wish to better understand." — SLJ (starred review)


“Disclosure”  - 2020 Netflix (1 hr 47 min) – “In this documentary, leading trans creatives and thinkers share heartfelt perspectives and analysis about Hollywood's impact on the trans community”

First Stories – Two Spirited” 2007 National Film Board of Canada (6 min) – “This short documentary presents the empowering story of Rodney "Geeyo" Poucette's struggle against prejudice as a two-spirited person (gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender.”

No Ordinary Man” - 2020 The legacy of Billy Tipton, a 20th-century American jazz musician and trans icon, is brought to life by a diverse group of contemporary trans artists. Revered jazz musician Billy Tipton gained fame throughout the United States in the 1940s and ’50s. His trans identity was not known throughout the echelons of the jazz and pop worlds, and it wasn’t revealed publicly until after his death in 1989. For decades, Tipton was portrayed as an ambitious woman “passing” as a man in pursuit of a music career at a time when the industry was dominated by men and trans representation was virtually non-existent. Since then, he has become a foundational icon of transmasculinity.


@transstudent: trans-youth led initiative 

@transjusticefp: a community-led funding initiative to support grassroots, #trans justice groups run by and for trans people.

@alokvmenon: Alok Vaid-Menon is an Indian-American writer, performance artist, and media personality who performs under the moniker ALOK. Alok is gender non-conforming and transfeminine and uses singular they pronouns.

@mx.acdumlao: AC Dumlao uses they/them pronouns. They are a queer/bi+ transgender non-binary first-generation American and child of Filipino immigrants. As an activist and educator, their focus is on centering and uplifting underrepresented and multiply marginalized people and their communities.

@lavernecox: Laverne Cox is an American actress and LGBTQ+ advocate.

@IheartErika: Erika Hart is a prominent activist for racial/social/gender justice issues

@Kenneyethanjones: Kenny Ethan Jones is a transgender writer and activist

@lgbt_history: account highlighting important moments in LGBTQ+ history

@elierlick: Eli Erlick is a queer, transgender writer, activist, and public speaker.


They & Us” CBC – “What is ‘gender identity’? How is it different from ‘gender expression’? What about ‘non-binary’? Join host Faith Fundal (formerly Wil Fundal) as they explore these questions alongside people who find themselves navigating the world of preferred pronouns, trans rights and the quest to be recognized for who they are.”

Gender Reveal” – “Gender Reveal is a podcast for nonbinary folks, for people who don't know what "nonbinary" means, and everyone in between. 

Created by journalist and educator Tuck Woodstock, Gender Reveal explores the vast diversity of trans experiences through interviews with a wide array of trans, nonbinary and two-spirit people. The show also serves as a free educational tool for anyone seeking to learn more about gender. 

Join us every Monday as we interview trans artists and activists, answer listener questions, analyze current events, and get a little bit closer to understanding what the heck gender is.”

They/Them” – “Moon Poet and Whooping Cough are genderqueer friends who spend most of their time talking about LGBTQIA+ perspectives and issues.”


Sexual orientation and gender identity” (7:02) – Video aimed at health care professionals, but translatable to a legal setting. Does a good job of setting out basic terms, and explaining why contrary to popular belief, biological sex is also a spectrum

5 Non-Binary People Explain What ‘Non-Binary’ Means To Them” (7:32) 

Why Gender Pronouns Matter” (4:20) - Trans students explain why pronouns are so important.

GLAAD Trans Awareness Week series – multiple videos featuring trans people and their experiences. 


The Struggles of Rejecting the Gender Binary” (NY Times)

Beyond the Narrow Expectations of Gender” (NY Times)

The Problematic Politics Of Style And Gender Identity In The Workplace” (Huffpost)