Book Review: The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye

Publisher: Allen Lane
Format: MOBI
Release Date: September 2nd, 2021

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Firstly, thank you to publishers Allen Lane for providing me with a copy of this ebook via NetGalley.

Let’s get this out of the way first, shall we? The UK media, right now, is very hostile towards trans people. This hostility is fuelled by too many ‘high profile’ people pretending concern over what the inclusion of trans women means for ‘women’s issues/spaces’. A lot of this is a load of, well, rubbish. (I would use stronger words, but I am currently trying not to swear too much on the internet.) Personally, I don’t think a lot of these people should even be given airtime – there is no debate when it comes to human rights, the vast majority of ‘anti-trans’ accounts on platforms like Twitter are sock puppets and bots, and we cannot have equality without equality for all, okay? (And yes I could rant about this all day, especially with the way white cis women – and yes I am a white cis woman – tend to focus on issues that effect them without consideration for the variety of other people experiencing discrimination and hostility and, honestly, fellow cis white women? We have to do better. But anyway!)

Shon Faye has, in this brilliant book, outlined what it means to be trans in a transphobic society. If you are cis, I highly suggest you read this book. That goes even more if you think of yourself as an ally to the trans community. We need to be more aware of what people are going through. We have to understand the type of people standing against the trans community would see all of our rights stripped away, and even with that taken out of the equation, there is absolutely no reason trans men and women should have to deal with the kind of hate they get shown on a daily basis.

Faye puts the UK and especially the UK media under a microscope, demonstrating the idea that the current anti-trans rhetoric is a moral panic. Faye doesn’t only discuss how the treatment of trans people effects all people, but she discusses each issue put into the context of other issues in our society. She ties in the facts and figures with similar numbers among other marginalized groups, as well as highlighting various experiences of both trans men and women throughout the book. The arguments for justice put forth by Shon Faye are intersectional, and truly demonstrate the need for people to work together, to keep trans rights at the forefront when discussing other issues, as well.

Faye also, to put it bluntly, absolutely rips apart the arguments many anti-trans people use, in a way that is factual and elegant. Her writing skill is absolutely fantastic, and it’s hard not to see or understand the pain and anger she must have felt while compiling the information in this book. Importantly, too, Faye acknowledges her own privilege, all too aware she is in a more fortunate situation than others.

Again, this is a must-read book. There’s a strong power here, highlighted by the experiences of people Faye spoke to, from parents of a young trans child to a woman who transitioned as an OAP, to younger trans men seeking support and who need space to talk about their own issues, too. She never discounts the fact there are a many different experiences under the ‘trans’ umbrella, and she never fails to emphasise this point. She talks about education, representation in the media, healthcare, employment, sex work and other areas, while maintaining the argument “there can be no trans liberation under capitalism.”

Faye has put together a strong, well-written, powerful book, that, as the title suggests, carries an argument for justice, one we should all pay attention to.

Goodreads / Amazon / Bookshop

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