Book Review: Transgender 101

10 Feb

Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue

Nicholas M. Teich

transgender 101 cover



… How does this tie into the differences between gender identity and sexual orientation?  Well queer does lump GLB in with T and others, but in this case it can be a more comfortable way for someone to identify without explaining that he is a gay transman or a straight transman.  For example, a transman who is attracted to women could be defined as straight.  However, if a transman does not feel comfortable identifying as straight because it erases his past and identity in a way, he might identify as queer.

There is a saying in the transgender community: “FTMs pass in the streets; MTFs pass in the sheets.”  What exactly does this mean?  Well,, it’s important to note that here we’re only talking about FTMs who have been on testosterone for some months and have had top surgery (or who can hide any semblance of breasts they might have) and MTFs who have been on estrogen for a while and have had lower surgery as well.  Average people on the street who walk by an FTM will not think they have just passed by a transgender person.  Testosterone and lack of breasts make a person look male- and to someone who doesn’t think about diversity of gender on a daily basis, this means an assumption that the person was born male.  This is clearly not always the case.  However, once a transman who has not had lower surgery takes off his clothes “in the sheets,” it is clear that he was not originally assigned the male sex.  MTFs often, but not always, have a harder time passing in the streets.  If puberty has already hit by the time the natal male transitions to female, she may be much taller than most other women and may have developed traditionally male features that female hormones cannot change.  These include but are not limited to large hands, full facial hair (electrolysis is often necessary), and more prominent or angular facial features.  However, “in the sheets,” an MTF who has lower surgery is often indistinguishable from a natal female.

These are two of my favorite quotes/excerpts from the book.  I had never heard about the sheets and the streets but it makes good sense.  I also have a transgender friend who didn’t know if he should identify as straight or gay and I thought this cleared it up.  I would highly recommend the book; it covers such subjects as: what the term transgender means, sexual orientation vs gender, coming out, transitioning in terms of social, emotional, and medicals, history of transgenderism, mental health and transgenderism, discrimination, and lesser known types of transgenderism such as cross-dressers, genderqueer people, drag queens and more.  The book was very comprehensive and informative.  It was also relatively short, being only 125 pages.

5 Responses to “Book Review: Transgender 101”

  1. midnightdemons7 February 10, 2015 at 12:27 PM #

    excellent review. I need to get this book now!

  2. manyofus1980 February 12, 2015 at 12:22 AM #

    Sounds like a good book! I might get it!


  1. 100 Get to know me questions: Part 3 | Marci, Mental Health, & More - April 14, 2015

    […] thing you recorded on TV? I don’t record things on TV 57. What was the last book you read? Transgender 101 58. What’s your favorite type of foreign food? Mexican or Thai 59. Are you a clean or messy […]

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