Trans Teen Survival Guide

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 21 Sep 2018

Member Reviews

I got a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Please note: I'm not trans, so please take what I say about this book with a grain of salt and also go read some reviews of this book by trans people.  That said, I think this book is a really great recourse for both trans teens and their parents.  I really liked how the Fishers went through different issues that can come up and different questions trans teens can have in each chapter.  I loved the chapters on dysphoria and surgery the most because I felt like they had a lot of practical information.  I learned a great deal about dysphoria, which was really good for me as I've not researched the topic much.

I don't think this book is perfect. I wish that the authors had taken the time to talk about more pronouns, especially ones that aren't currently the norm like ze/hir or others like that. I did also feel like a couple chapters were a little repetitive, but maybe that was just the ARC I read. I also felt like the books information on binding seemed a little incomplete, but like I said I'm not trans so I would recommend looking to other reviews as well as mine.

Overall though I thought that this book could be a great recourse for trans teens and I gave it 4 stars on Goodreads.
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This is such a significant topic right now. As a school librarian for teens and pre-teens who are finding themselves, it is incredibly important to create a safe space and a place of acceptance, no matter how they identify. This book helped me increase my knowledge and will be a helpful guide to students who are finding their way.
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This book was very informative which I did not mind but a lot of the info for the websites are from the UK. Regardless it is informative and it gives tips for clothes and also shares little stories from people regarding the topic. I just wish they had more information for the people living in the USA and not as much for the UK (or split it down the middle). Other stuff was basic knowledge so I kind of skipped that and read the stuff I did not know, like the surgeries and the differences.
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Thank you to Netgalley, the authors, and publisher for an advance copy of this book.  **any quotes are subject to change prior to publication**

"We only have one life, and we have to live it for ourselves."

Sometimes I just title-grab books on Netgalley.  When I saw this one, I grabbed it and honestly did not realize it was a non-fiction "self-help" book.  I actually thought it was a quirky YA contemporary, so when I started reading the prologue I was like oh wow this is actually nothing that I thought I was getting myself into.  BUT, I did really enjoy it.

Middle-class CIS white female over here, so life's been pretty easy for me with the exception of unwarranted cat-calls or groping, and misogyny in the workplace...and pretty much everywhere in life.  I enjoy diverse books, particularly those that revolve around discovering your sexual identity, but this was my first time reading a non-fiction about sexual identity.  It was an emotional experience.  It was really an all-encompassing book that would be helpful to not only those trying to find their identity and voice in a world that suffocates, but also for those who are loved ones, friends, family, co-workers of a trans individual.  There was a wealth of resources and multiple voices to make sure the reader knows they or their loved ones are not alone in this transition.

The only real criticism that I can give (and I don't even think that I would count it as criticism) is that it kind of reads like a Middle Grade textbook.  So just be aware going into it, if you ARE well-versed in what it means to be trans that this may read a little below your liking.
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Disclosure: I'm not trans, but i do want to educate my self on what it means to be transgender. 
This book was well layed out for an informative book with big headlines and subhealines for each topic. I feel that it will appeal to everyone not just teenagers which is its attended. The book covers all topics that you would wander about: coming out, clothing, dating, sex, pronouns and even more. My favourite part of the book is the personal stories that are included in each chapter. It was nice to read them and find out how they felt when they had to come our or other experiences they have had. Its so brave of them to speak out. 
I gave this book 3 stars as i did find it really interesting however I'm not keen on nonfiction books.
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I came into this book as someone who is not trans, but I always try and educate myself on topics and broaden my horizons, so to speak. Whilst I do agree that there are definitely plenty of articles and resources out there that have this same information, I feel like having it in a book form almost 'normalises' it and will help those who are going through this to feel more supported and understood. I feel like it's a really vital book and I haven't seen many like this. However, the only downside is if someone bought/borrowed this for themselves and genuinely wanted info from it, the massive title splayed across the page might be a giveaway when they're trying to hide what they're reading!
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I got an ARC of this book.

I am not so far removed from being a trans teen that I have forgotten what it is like. So I thought I would check out a book aimed at teens (except for a weird chapter at the end aimed at parents of trans kids, not teens). I was hoping that I would find something that would have helped me when I was a trans teen, but I was let down.

I have heard of these authors before, they were interviewed in another book I have read recently. Their interview was one of the few that stuck out to me when I was reading that book, so I was pretty excited to see that they had a book out. I thought they would have a great deal to say that would really get to me. Instead I read a lot of fluff and some really awful sections.

Lets start with the awful: the book was inconsistent, focused greatly on one aspect at the detriment of others, and offered dangerous advice. The dangerous advice was the part that got me though. I expected two trans people to be able to realize what they were telling young trans teens to do with their transition was dangerous. At one point in the book they talk about binding with TAPE. They go on about how a transman has made tape that is better to bind with than normal tape. They do not discuss the dangers of binding with tape at all. Later in the book, one of the write-ins mentioned in more detail about how dangerous binding with tape is. The write-in in ANOTHER section of the book contradicts the authors with accurate information. I was floored. Binding safety should have been basic trans 101. A quick google search will tell you that ace bandages and tape are dangerous, especially in long term bind situations, using during a show for drag is slightly different though there are still risks. The book would randomly have write-in testimonials, but in weird chapters. They never added anything and for all I know they were all faked, I don't believe they were, but it was just so random and plopped in that it felt off. 

My biggest issue with the book boils down to the focus of the book. The chapter on binding, packing, and padding (no mention of tucking at all, which is also odd) was shorter than the chapter on what to do if someone wants to interview you on TV. I was literally the poster boy for trans youth when I was younger. I had my face on posters, I was in newspapers, I traveled to give speeches. The other trans youth around me, didn't. So why is there such a focus on interviews and media rules (one must always have a pre-approved positive message that all trans people can agree with so be sure to check with this ONE group before you say anything) when that isn't the norm that trans teens will face. Including it was great, but having it be one of the longest chapter when the basic social transition stuff was glossed over was awful. 

More dangerous advice being: It is ALWAYS better to come out than hide. That is not the case. Some people staying stealth or not coming out makes them safer, which the authors admit, but then repeatedly through the rest of the book romanticize the idea of coming out being this magical event and how everyone should come out and how bad stuff can be easily remedied. There is a small section, one or two sentences, about how people have been attacked or kicked out, but the bad again is glossed over. Has Brandon Teena been forgotten? Has Gwen Araujo been relegated to a lifetime movie? What about me (raped, attacked, beaten, and abused by family and classmates alike for coming out as trans and transitioning at 15)? What about all of the homeless trans kids? What about the whole culture of trans women who have turned to sex work to survive? So many bad things can happen, but this book made it seem like they were in the past. I'm not saying someone shouldn't come out because of these bad things, but don't pretend it doesn't happen. Don't gloss over it. Kids can and will get hurt after coming out, but without that coming out no one stands a chance of a happy life. Coming out is a bold, brave, and powerful move of self-acceptance and a push forward for trans rights. I love seeing all the trans kids that are coming out now. I love seeing that my transition is being pushed away from the norm. I am fiercely protective of those kids. So this idea that coming out is all sunshine and rainbows and you should always come out, is dangerous. I don't want these kids hurt or homeless because they followed the glib advice of two adults. 

A quick google search, a blog on Tumblr, or checking Facebook for trans groups would give all the information of this book and then some. This book may help some people, but it wouldn't have helped me. I was the only trans kid in my school and in my immediate area. I could only see other trans people once a year at a conference or at a support group that was an hour away. This book still wouldn't have helped me. I was given all of the information this book provided from someone who didn't identify as trans (at the time, he does now) in a five minute conversation. It reaffirms that community is wonderful and necessary, it repeatedly says there is no right or wrong way to be trans (while focusing on a very transsexual binary experience of transitioning and no mention of how clothing can work). So this isn't the worst trans book I have read, but it should not be your only source of information. Seek out another trans person. There are a lot of online big brother/big sister/big sibling programs. I have multiple "younger" brothers that I have mentored over the years. They are all older than me, but I am older in trans years. We share, we have a community. They pass on the stuff we have learned as a group and as individuals to others. All of that works better than this book which is so basic that if you have watched modern TV or read a YA you would already know half of it.
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Very detailed and informative guide about being trans. Will definitely keep this on my kindle to re-read, and also recommend it to my friends.
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I think this is a really important book to have in any school collection, but honestly I feel as though it could have been done better. It reads very dry and is aged by the dated pop culture references (Britney and Justin etc), There is a lot of good information here, and perhaps reading it cover to cover just isn't the way to go. Maybe it's more of a book to refer to as needed rather than to read all the way through. Edited to add: I am a non-binary trans person, so this is the perspective reflected in this review.
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This is a book that is needed in many schools. Not only for those considering transitioning, but for those who want an insight into something they know nothing about.
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A fantastic insight into the reality of trans teen life. A brilliant book for ANYONE who is or has a trans person in their lives.
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Seriously helped the trans teen in my life and gave them practical tools to deal with all facets of their lives and the changes they were facing.
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I haven't finished yet. I will. But I'm so annoyed at this point I had to respond. Firstly it's a bit patronising. I think that most people reading this book will be a sensible teen so why make statements like "genitals (yuck!)" I may have slightly misquoted bu this was the tone. Really?!
But worse than this the non fiction advice book for teens advises young, probably vulnerable people to seek out others on social media sites like Instagram, Facebook etc. Has the writer looked into what makes young people vulnerable? Because we're talking about a vulnerable teen who may not be able to talk to anyone around them, reaching out to strangers on the Internet for reassurance and acceptance. Doesn't this scream danger? There are so many authorised websites that offer support and shared experiences why wouldn't the writer research these and offer something safe, checked out and useful? I'm pretty annoyed that this isn't just an important opportunity missed but actually a risk to teens. Please please do some research and edit this.
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I'm not trans but I like to be informed and be educated on important topics. I found this to be so informative and helpful to really be aware of the things trans youth go through and to know that everyone journey is different.
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What I liked most about the book was how the book has been presented, it has short chapters containing the relevant information on specific topics followed by people sharing their own personal stories relating to that specific topic. The friendly, encouraging tone makes it very accessible and although they deal with some difficult issues, the book manages to remains
 upbeat and optimistic. It is made clear that there is no one way to be trans and that the most important thing is to be free to be who you are. Readers are encouraged to seek out accepting and authentic friends, the support of the trans community and to practise self-care.  There is also practical advice about how to change your legal name, as well as advice on emotional wellbeing such as hobbies, taking care of your mental health and eating well.

The books constantly informs the reader that, no matter how they identify and express themselves, they are queer/trans, which is a really important thing. There has been a lot of "discussion" on social media by keyboard warriors in the past few years about how some people are supposedly not queer enough. This micromanaging and negativity is extremely hurtful to the LGBT+ community, and I am glad that they address this in the book. They also remind the reader that having surgery or not is a personal choice and doesn't affect the fact that they ARE trans.

I honestly think this book is extremely important and was presented brilliantly. There is plenty of resources listed and trans readers are reminded that it gets better, they will be alright, they matter, they are valid and they are enough. I think it's vital that we have more books like this exploring each and every aspect of the LGBT+ community.
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** I'm not trans, but as a future educator/ librarian I do make it a point to educate myself thoroughly on trans issues. I loved this book. I think its very educational, and could do a lot of help for someone struggling to understand or someone struggling with themselves. I loved the format and all the resources that were provided through out the book. I think this book is going to be very important and could save a few lives along the way.
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A go-to book for every young trans. 

It touched all the important subjects that raise questions, it gave tips on clothing and stuff that helps with passing. It explained the terminology. The personal stories added a nice realness, variety and comfort to it all. 

What I loved most about the book was that it constantly teaches you that any way to be is okay. No one cant tell you you're not trans enough or don't apply to some standards. I would recommend it to anyone with body-image issues. I felt better in my skin after that cause it didn't exclude anyone so any reader can somewhat relate. Its also important to mention that not only is it okay to be yourself but this book taught me that its also feel like some parts don't feel yours. For example I've always had a problem with my voice. It doesn't sound feminine enough to me. And I've thought that I just have to learn to love it and accept it as a part of me. But no. This book helped me realize that I don't have to. I can be mad at it. I have the right to feel like it isn't part of me. And I have the right to change it to make it sound more like me. 

But is it for the good parts in the book. It was kind of too general and has new information only to very young trans or to people who are very new to this world. Also the information in this book might age quickly due to it having a lot of web links and organisations in it. 

As the first part of the book was aimed for trans in young ages just finding the courage to read/speak about it it felt out of place to me that almost 50% of the books end was about being a media spoke person for trans. How to be, how to act and what to say. This was unnecessary in this particular book with that kind of target readers. It is an important subject though and could've just been a totally separate book. 

"TV shows and films focus solely on the fact that people are trans. Their entire storyline centers around the fact of people being trans and there isn't any other depth to them."
This quote is so important cause its a common problem in many books and movies when it comes to minorities. I hope to live in a day where we are all just people.
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4* Written in a non-heavy way, but with all the essentials & sound practical advice. 

I'm not a teen and I'm not trans, but I was certainly interested more about learning about trans people and non-binary people, and this book, aimed at teens, made it easy to understand. 

I can't begin to imagine what it must be like to be trans, but this book feels full of support, perhaps because it's written by people who've 'walked the walk and can talk the talk'. It features anecdotes from trans teens, both sad and happy, and with what felt like total honesty and without making things seem either too easy or too insurmountable. It also has plenty of information about sources of help and support, and pros and cons for considering how to go about commencing one's transition, whether this be physical or not. 

It was an enlightening read, especially as I was already familiar with Fox and Owl Fisher. 

ARC courtesy of Jessica Kingsley Publishers and NetGalley, for my reading pleasure.
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The best aspect of this book is way the authors continually assert that there's no one way to be transgender/non-conforming and that gender stereotyping is over - 'You Be You' is the best possible message anyone could be promoting in my opinion.

The next best thing is the inclusion of illustrations by the lovely Sophie Labelle, who's 'Assigned Male' books/comic strips I have admired for some time.

Some good advice is given, rather repetitive but that could be a good thing in pushing home a point and ensuring that book can be picked up and dipped into as well as read beginning to end.

Criticisms include:

A huge amount of this book is devoted to media work and activism - stating that at some point *every* transgender person will be approached to do media work of some description and stressing how documenting your journey on some form of social media is so helpful to others.

Well yes, maybe, but there must be plenty of transgender people (of all ages) out there who are just wanting to quietly live their own lives.

The section on self-care reads rather like obvious filler too.

There is no definitions or description of terms and how they differ from each other.

This book could be useful for teens who have already done some research and have a good idea how they identify  - but equally, most of what's included here is then probably already known by that point too. The most useful things in that case are the personal stories from other youths, contact details for various organisations and the aforementioned stress upon not feeling pressurised to some conform and be a certain way to fit in.
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Important note: I am not a trans person. I suggest you also read reviews by trans people to get their own feelings about the book.

5 ⭐️

As a future teen/YA librarian, I am constantly trying to find books I could add to a library that are inclusive and informative, and aren't necessarily the best-sellers "must-have". I am also wary of LGBT+ rep guides, because a lot of them are great at representing the sexual or gender orientation they are written for, but can be incredibly hurtful to other orientations in the process (mainly through erasure). This is not the case with Trans Teen Survival Guide. It touches LGBT+ as a whole, while still maintaining all subtleties about each and every orientation.

They go deep into the explanation of what sex, gender, gender orientation and gender expression are, the differences between them, and how there isn't a good or bad way to be a certain gender. It is not only an explanation of what gender is, but also how ti's viewed in (contemporary western) society and how  hurtful some of the stereotypes are. It rightfully warn trans teens about people who might be obsessed with their genitals vs their gender, and about the dangers of stereotyping.

They constantly remind the reader that, no matter how they identify and express themselves, they are queer/trans enough, which is a really important thing. There has been a lot of "discussion" (using the term loosely here) on social media in the past few years about how some people are supposedly not queer enough for this or that reason. This kind of gatekeeping it extremely hurtful to the LGBT+ community, and I am glad that they address the issue in this book.

In fact, they address pretty much every issue in the book. Sexual orientation (with the exception of asexuality, which seems absent), fatness, degrees of gender expression (tomboy, feminine, butch, etc.) and just every different way a person who is trans could present as. All those points are used to remind readers that - no matter who you are - you are valid.

They talk about surgery in details, the pros and the cons and what each procedure is about.They also remind the reader that having surgery or not is a personal choice and doesn't affect the fact that they ARE trans. They are very open about everything, even when they don't encourage some of them. For example, they discourage resorting to the internet to gain access to hormones and hormones blocker, but they explain why some people could want/need to do that. While mentioning the dangers, they also make sure readers are not left in the dark.

They finish with a few advices for parents or people close to trans people. They remind those people to let kids be kids and not try to put them in boxes depending on the gender they were assigned at birth. They also tell parents to take their children seriously if they express a serious want or need to change gender, and educate themselves on the matter. It is really important not to dismiss this, as it can lead children to mental illnesses based on self-hate and guilt.

The whole book is extremely important and was presented brilliantly. There is plenty of resources listed and trans readers are constantly reminded that it gets better, they will be alright, they matter, they are valid and they are enough. I think it's important that we have more books like this exploring each and every aspect of the LGBT+ community.
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