Book Review

Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Realities

Resource for helping communities understand transgender issues.

By Calli Johnson

“Traversing gender: Understanding transgender realities”
by Lee Harrington, 2016

“Traversing Gender: Understanding Transgender Realities” is an excellent resource. The text is divided into three sections: "Journeys," "Health," and "The World at Large.” The introduction to the text explores the question “what is transgender,” laying the foundation for what is going to be explored throughout the book. The journeys section does vital work explaining sex, gender and orientation in an understandable and clear way. The diversity of transgender journeys is also discussed as well as time periods of transition. The health section follows a biopsychosocial model and highlights social, medical, sexual and mental health and the unique issues encountered through transgender realities. The world at large section covers law, challenges and communities and how to be a trans ally.

Packed with a glossary and further resources to move beyond this introductory text, this short book provides substantial information. The target audience of this text could be individuals exploring their gender; parents, teachers, school counselors and administrators, psychologists, social workers or other professionals with a desire to learn about transgender realities; or siblings, friends and partners of folks experiencing their transgender journey.

Written at about a ninth-grade level with language focused from a social justice framework, not all sections are relevant to every audience member, except the last chapter on how to be an ally. This text is inclusive of racial disparities affecting the trans community as well as the hardly talked about inclusion of differently-abled trans individuals. The reader does not get overwhelmed with citations or figures while reading; however the citations allow professionals to look further into what caught their interest.

A critique of the book is that those looking for more in-depth discussions of specific parts of the transgender reality will need to look elsewhere. Each chapter and section is a brief overview of all the factors of the transgender experience, and will not be advanced enough for those that have more understanding beyond the basics of transgender issues.