“We should be focussing on listening to each other, listening to our unique stories, and celebrating our differences rather than trying to fix all trans people into a single theoretical model. Why not let 1000 flowers bloom?”
Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics
Transgressive is an collection of essays written by Rachel Anne Williams on her blog Transphilosopher. Rachel Anne Williams is a trans woman and ex-philosopher. And also one of my favourite people I’ve ever read a book off.
The collection is divided in parts and deals not only with Rachel’s own journey. But also every single subject you can think of that deals with a part of the trans community.
- ‘Transfeminine Blues’ is about the struggles trans feminine people in this world face and deals with topics like dysphoria and ‘passing’.
- ‘Feminist Musings’ is about trans life and feminism and why it’s so okay to be angry.
- ‘Life in Transition’ talks off Rachel’s own experience transitioning and it’s where we hear about Rachel’s struggles and thoughts that she has gone through and still continues to face.
- ‘Gender and Politics’ discussions political debates and made me so angry at times.
- In ‘Metaphysics and Epistemology’ we hear from Rachel as the philosopher, topics like what is gender identity are discussed.
- Finally ‘Autobiographical Notes’ talks about Rachel’s own experiences with different subjects, like dating women as a trans woman and mental illness.
At the end of the collection there’s also a section on further reading on gender studies and feminism.
What I found the most impressive thing about this essay collection, and Rachel’s style of writing, is that she expresses that these essays are written from her own experience and her own opinion. But at the time time it’s such a beautiful gift to the trans community. The research that was put into this is absolutely stunning. Williams doesn’t go out to write down her opinion only, but takes into account multiple perspectives and feelings on situations. She asks the reader to be critical and to add onto the discussion. This essay collection will start to lead it’s own life when people start reading it more and hopefully be the start of many discussions and eye-opening moments.
I love how this essay collection was divided in parts, it made it easier to go back and forth on the topics. Rachel writes in the preface that the collection isn’t meant to be read chronologically but that readers can go back and forth to find essays to fit their interests. And that’s what I did. Some essays are super hard to read and with some I ended up going back to read them another time when I was in a different mindset. There’s hurt in Transgressive as an essay collection, Rachel names what she lost when she started her transition, and it made my heart hurt. To think that to live someone’s truth, such a negative side comes along with it.
Some essays in Transgressive also brought completely new thoughts and expressions to my head that I hadn’t thought of before. As a cis-woman I don’t think about gender an awfully lot. But especially essays in part 5 made me take a step back and think that I actually should. And that’s just one example. Because there are so many parts of this that just opened my eyes and made me want to do further research and reading.
In her intro she tells the reader to be her critic, to think, really think, about what she has written down. And to ‘make her a shit sandwich’; a compliment, then the criticism, then another compliment. And I have been reading critically, but other than ‘man, I wish this book went on for another 100 essays’, I don’t have any complaints. Some subjects went over my head a bit, and this only tells me to educate myself more.
“My feminism will never be complete. But it is that very incompleteness which encourages me to keep learning and listening.”
Out May 21st, 2019
Transgressive is an essay collection that I will be purchasing on it’s day of release in 2019. To annotate, to put my marker and sticky notes all over it. To go back to these essays and visit Rachel Anne Williams once more. Because man, I have so much to learn and I am so willing.
Thank you to Netgalley for providing this free copy in exchange for my honest review.
Title: Transgressive: A Trans Woman on Gender, Feminism, and Politics
Author: Rachel Anne Williams
Publish date: May 21st, 2019
Publisher: Jessica Kingsley Publishers
Page Number: 272
ISBN 13: 978-1785926471