Between XX and XY: Intersexuality and the Myth of Two Sexes
Written by Gerald H. Callahan, a professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology at Colorado State University, this book provides a fascinating and comprehensive look at the biological variability in the sex anatomy and sex chromosome composition of human beings. Callahan suggests that there are, in fact, more than two distinct combinations of sex chromosomes, and explores the concept of binary-based gender identities and ideologies through a biological framework.
The Boy & the Bindi
Written by author, artist, and musician Vivek Shraya, this children’s book tackles gender variance in Hindu culture. At its core, Shraya’s book is about self-discovery in world that doesn’t always allow that kind of agency for boys and men of color. Shraya is a transgender woman, and has created music, art, and literature for and about trans and gender non-conforming people for the past 16 years. You can learn more about Shraya and her work, by visiting her website. If you enjoy her work, make sure to donate!
The State of Gay and Transgender Communities of Color in 2012
This study published by the Center for American Progress focuses on the larger cultural trends, including the long and complex history of the institutionalized discrimination that deeply affects LGBTQIA+ people of color in the United States. Overall, LGBTQ+ people of color face high rates of unemployment, underemployment, poverty, addiction, and abuse, while simultaneously facing discrimination and harassment in education and healthcare systems, and job and housing markets.
This report illustrates the ways in which individual factors of oppression intersect and inform one another (i.e. the statistical correlation between high rates of abuse and discrimination among LGBTQ+ youth of color, high rates of homelessness, addiction, and sexual assault, and low rates of educational attainment among those same populations.)
When considered as part of a larger pattern throughout one’s life, these common experiences of abuse, harassment, and discrimination not only help us draw connections between how and why LGBTQ+ people of color are more likely to experience negative health outcomes, homelessness, unemployment, or addiction. Additionally, in-depth reports like this one might also make solutions more attainable through targeted outreach and policy.
Growing up lgbt in america
The Human Rights Campaign conducted this groundbreaking and comprehensive youth survey. It includes research-based analysis of several key factors that impact the lived realities of young LGBTQIA+ people in the United States.
This study is not entirely intersectional, and often fails to acknowledge that ethnic background and ability affect the ways in which young LGBTQIA+ identified people experience discrimination, harassment, rejection, or violence. It focuses primarily on white LGBTQ+ identified youth, and fails to address the heightened risk of homelessness, addiction, and barriers to quality healthcare and educational opportunities that young LGBTQ+ people of color face as compared to their white peers.
However, this study is still useful in its scope and content. It reveals and discusses much about what LGBTQ+ youth struggle with in school, at home, and in religious environments as compared to their non-LGBTQ+ identified conterparts.
Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics
bell books is a cultural icon. Her influence as a feminist theorist is giant, and her focus ranges from the intersections of capitalism, race, gender, and sexuality, to critical media and film theory. This particular offering, like all of hooks’ work, lacks the heady academic language that often makes theory inaccessable. This book outlines intersectional thought and emphasizes the importance of the involvement of men in feminist movements. If you’re looking for the most intelligent and comprehensive overview of intersectional feminism there is, you've come to the right place.
Supporting and Caring for Our Gender Expansive Youth
Supporting and Caring for Our Gender Expansive Youth is a one of Growing Up LGBTQ in America’s follow-up studies. It was conducted by the Human Rights Campaign and focuses primarily on providing educators, parents, and allies with information that they might use to better support and validate gender non-conforming young people. This is a great resource if you are unfamiliar with terminology, or not used to thinking of gender as a spectrum or a constructed social identity.
This study doesn’t always account for the fact that trans, gender non-conforming and non-binary people have drastically different experiences of the world based on ethnicity, race, religion, ability, nationality, and socioeconomic status, but it does chronicle the new and shifting ways young people think and talk about gender, as well as the experiences of discrimination or rejection they might experience as a result of those identities.
Women, Race, and Class
This groundbreaking book by writer, political activist, and race and gender theorist Angela Davis is a must read. First published in 1983, Women, Race, and Class provides a complex look at the intersections of race, gender, and socioeconomic status framed by the cultural and historical context of both second wave feminism, and the Civil Rights movement. Dr. Davis is an icon, and this offering is a brilliant introduction to complex, intersectional thought.
This short documentary produced by the Guardian follows Laxmi Narayan Tripathi, an LGBTQ+ rights advocate living in Mumbai, India. Laxmi is India’s most prominent transgender rights activist, and belongs to the world’s "oldest ethnic group of transgender people," called hijra, sometimes referred to as a "third gender."
While the history of hijra individuals and communities has been documented for thousands of years in South Asia, this short documentary provides a brief cultural and historical overview of gender non-conforming and trans identities in India. It is important to remember that trans and gender non-conforming identities are ancient. They have always existed, and even appear in Hindu mythology. However, much like in other cultures and religions around the world, hijra communities and individuals experience varying levels of acceptance and rejection.
The Science of Justice: Race, Arrests, and Police Use of Force
This comprehensive 2016 study conducted by the Center for Policing Equity compiles a research and data that pertain to the intersections of race and police force in the United States. This study also functions as a national analysis of patterned police behavior, and provides an in-depth analysis of its findings.
To better understand how and why trans people of color are more than seven times more likely to experience violence at the hands of law enforcement, it is important to center conversations, data, and research-based analysis surrounding violence produced upon people of color by law enforcement. It’s also important to discuss violence produced upon people of color by law enforcement as an element of systemic institutionalized racism, and an ongoing cultural trend, rather than a string of isolated instances. This helpful in understanding oppressive systems as complex and multifaceted.
Other Boys NYC
A fifty-part documentary series focused on the lived realities of queer, trans, and gender non-conforming men of color living in New York City. This project is intersectional and deeply intimate. It navigates not only the complex intersecting identities of race, ethnicity, nationality, and sexual orientation, but also delves into the complex nature of masculinity through each participant's personal testimony. This project, created by Adbool Corlette and Adam Vazquez, is impeccably designed and wonderfully executed; thoughtful, provoking, informative, and full of joyful and heartbreaking surprises about the real experiences of queer and trans men of color.
What Would Trans Art Look Like if It Was Only Made by Trans People?
Written for Slate by Evan Urquhart, this article gives an intersectional rundown of the controversy surrounding two film projects about Marsha P. Johnson, a much beloved gay liberation activist. Urquhart dissects the complicated nature of queer history: who makes it, and who gets to tell it; breaks down the controversy, and explores the elements of racism and transmisogyny that often keep trans women of color from maintaining control over their own narratives, even within LGBTQ+ communities. Even if you've already seen one or both of the films in question, Urquhart's article is a must-read.
In January of 2017, National Geographic Magazine released a comprehensive, intersectional look at gender across the world,accompanied by a documentary film project. This issue is arguably the most comprehensive educational resource currently available. It’s packed with valuable, accurate information, an amazing list of terms and definitions, and intimate, moving portraits and profiles of trans, non-binary, genderqueer, genderfluid, agender, bigender, and gender non-conforming people from all over the world. You can access most of this context online through National Geographic’s website.
Additionally, this multi-media resource acts as teaching moment for its own host. Katie Couric, who previously asked actress, model, and transgender activist Laverne Cox inappropriate transition-related questions on her daytime talk show. Couric hosts most the video material included in the documentary film project, and broadens her own understanding along with the viewer.
Just Me and Allah
Samara Habib, a photographer who identifies as both queer and Muslim, launched this photo project over two years ago. She has travelled across North America and Europe photographing queer Muslims. Each portrait is striking, and accompanied by short interview-based statements by the subjects themselves. This project seeks to explore the complexities of race, nationality, gender, sexuality, and Islam through personal narratives, and succeeds with poignancy and grace. These gorgeous portraits illuminate the struggle, joy, and complexity of queer Muslim identities. Sit with these portraits for awhile. They’ll change you.
The Mask You Live In
This gorgeous and heartfelt documentary explores the nature of masculinity. Or, more specifically, toxic versions of masculinity that encourage violence, constant competition, and complicated relationships with pain, while simultaneously discouraging emotional literacy, close relationships with other men, and limited displays of compassion and forgiveness. The Mask You Live In explores how and why these versions of masculinity can keep men from living healthy, fulfilled lives, and produce physical and psychological violence upon girls and women in the process.
Gender theorist Jackson Katz appears in the documentary to discuss several of his theories about the nature and consequences of these toxic incarnations of masculine identities. Each person profiled in this project expresses concern about the ways in which toxic versions of masculinity manifest in his own lives, and how those versions of masculinity might be shaped and reproduced by larger cultural narratives about gender.
Seeking Shelter: The Experiences and Unmet Needs of LGBT Homeless Youth
This survey and report published by the Center for American Progress outlines the many risks that homeless LGBTQ+ youth face every day. In addition to providing readable statistics, this study includes the personal stories of respondents, and navigates complex cultural factors that contribute to the disproportionately high rate of homelessness among LGBTQ+ youth, such as a lack of social or cultural agency, and hostility, abuse, or violence within their own homes. Additionally, this study explores the effects of systemic discrimination against LGBTQ+ minors within the youth homeless shelters and the foster care and juevenille justice systems.
The Self-Evident Truths Project
In 2010, writer and photographer iO Tillet Wright set out to photograph anyone who identifies as anything other that straight or cisgender. This beautifully inclusive project seeks to humanize queer and gender non-conforming people by confronting the viewer with the intimacy of their images. The project’s tagline, We Are You, is meant to reinforce the idea that visibility breeds compassion and is, itself, a kind of activism.
Tillett Wright also gave a TEDTalk entitled “50 Shades of Gay,” that explores his personal identity, navigates the concept of the gender binary, and chronicles the project’s conception. To date, Tillett Wright has photographed nearly 9,000 people in 73 cities. If you'd like to learn more about the project, please visit the Self-Evident Truths project’s website. If you believe in the work, make sure to donate!
This documentary follows Moises Serrano, an undocumented queer person living in North Carolina. Undocumented young people who are LGBTQIA+ face a particular set of obstacles. They exist at the intersections of violent and institutionalized racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and transphobia. They often lack consistent access to healthcare, educational opportunities, jobs, and housing, based on their immigration status and their identities as LGBTQIA+ people.
This documentary follows Moises Serrano’s story, but Serrano is far from the only undocumented LGBTQ+ person facing these debilitating struggles. According to a 2017 study published by the Williams Institute, of the estimated 75,000 DREAMers who identify as LGBTQ+, around 36,000 have participated in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, more commonly known as DACA.
A Brief History of How Drag Queens Turned Against the Trans Community
In this articles written for the queer community platform them., Samantha Riedel gives a stunningly comprehensive history of drag itself, and discuses complexity of drag's current role in both LGBTQ+ communities and larger mainstream culture. Drag’s history is equal parts beautiful and nasty. And while Riedel doesn’t attempt to dissect the harmful racialized history of drag (i.e. cultural appropriation, racism, violence etc.), they do give an important run-down of how, and where, mainstream narratives about drag, and drag itself, might have gone wrong.
Drag can, and often does, provide a queer space to celebrate the complexity of gender—or a platform by which gender non-conforming folks might explore their own identities more deeply—many people believe that the darker, cisnormative, binary-based, elements of drag culture have “poisoned the well.” Riedel lends validity to that opinion, and isn't afraid to explore it.
Furthermore, as this article acknowledges, it’s important to address the ways in which mainstream modern drag performance, though sometimes inclusive of trans and fluid identities, is often deeply harmful and invalidating for trans women and transfeminine people—especially for trans women of color. This article both explores that narrative, and posits one of hope: that drag can, and might, become the thing we’ve always needed it to be, and the porous, inclusive space it once was, should it’s frontrunners decide to wield their privilege and power accordingly.
Queer: A Graphic History
Created by Dr. Meg John Barker and Julia Scheele, this book is more of a brief intro to queer theory than an overview of queer history. If you’re interested in learning more about queer theory, which includes many of the broader themes discussed throughout this project (i.e. the gender binary, queerness, heteronormativity, cisnormativity, heteropatriarchy, intersectionality etc.), then Dr. Barker’s book is the perfect introduction. These theoretical concepts are multi-faceted and complex, but the larger concepts are easy to understand because we live with them every day. Dr. Barker's work simply breaks them down, and helps us learn how to identify them.
Serving Our Youth: Findings from a National Survey of Service Providers
This report, published by the Williams Institute, True Colors Fund, and the Palette Fund, displays data collected in a 2012 web-based survey. This collection of data is displayed in easy to read graphs and charts, and makes evident the disproportionate percentage of homeless LGBTQ+ seeking assistance from organizations on an annual basis.
Laura Jane Grace is a punk icon, activist, and frontwoman of the band Against Me!, Her memoir, written in collaboration with Dan Ozzi, navigates parenthood, relationships, the complexities of gender in punk culture, and her experience as a transgender woman in the music industry. In 2012, Grace came out to the world in Rolling Stone Magazine. Since then, she has connected with trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people all over the world in an effort to forge support networks both for herself and others.
With regards to the title of Grace’s memoir, it’s important to remember that while some terms/identifiers have been reclaimed by individuals and communities traditionally targeted by violent language, that doesn’t mean these terms are appropriate for everyone to use. It is generally unacceptable to use this term casually, or in reference to a trans, gender non-conforming, or non-binary person. It is considered to be derogatory.
Intimate Matters: A History of Sexuality in America
Masterfully crafted by John D’Emilio and Estelle B. Freedman, this text offers in-depth look at the history of sexuality in America. D'Emilio and Freedman cover everything you’ve ever wanted to know about sexuality, and a lot of things you didn’t realize you wanted to know. This text covers all the ways in which sexuality has intersected with race, ethnicity, socioeconomic class, religion, ability, and gender over time, and, in doing so, provides an outline of American history as shaped by sexuality. IF you're interested in learning more about how and why sexuality shapes larger cultural narratives about race, gender, ethnicity, and religion; and, conversely, how cultural narratives often shape our ideas about sexuality, D'Emilio and Freedman's text is the place to start.
Suicide Attempts Among Transgender and Gender Non-Conforming Adults
Comprised of findings of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey sponsored by the Williams Institute and the American Foundation for Suicide prevention, this report provides an intersectional look at how and how transgender and gender non-conforming youth and adults experience suicide rates nearly ten times the national average among the general population.
While this study doesn’t contain in-depth analysis, these startling statistics highlight the seriousness of suicide and self-harm among trans and gender non-conforming people as compared to their cisgender counterparts. It’s important to note that this survey does account for the intersections of racism, transphobia, transmisogyny, and other forms of violence and discrimination that may lead to high suicide rates in transgender populations.
Injustice at Every Turn: A Report of the National Transgender Discrimination Survey
Published by the National Center for Transgender Equality & The Nation Gay and Lesbian Task Force, this study is perhaps the most comprehensive study and report completed to date on the subject of discrimination, harassment, and violence experienced by trans and gender non-conforming people in the United States.
Because 78% of transgender people in grades K-12 report having experience harassment, nearly 15% drop out before receiving a high school diploma. As a result, transgender people are nearly four times more likely to have an income below $10,000 a year than members of the general population. Additionally, 26% of trans identified people report having been fired based on their gender identity.
Harassment and discrimination in the housing market (which more than 19% percent of respondents reported experiencing) also contribute to disproportionately high rates of homelessness addiction, incarceration, participation in underground economies (i.e. drugs, sex work etc.) and HIV/AIDS contraction rates.
This study is intersectional, well constructed, easy to read, and perhaps does a better job of displaying connections between each of the issues that affect trans and gender non-conforming individuals than any other data-based analysis available to the public.
The Long Painful History of Police Violence in the U.S.
This article, published by Smithsonian Magazine, gives a brief yet comprehensive history of racialized police violence the United States. LGBTQIA+ people of color are particularly vulnerable to violence at the hands of law enforcement, and this article helps establish racialized police violence within a larger historical context.
While this article isn’t directly related to violence produced upon LGBTQ+ people of color by police, it’s extremely useful in stitching together a more comprehensive and instersectional look at how and why LGBTQ+ people become doubly vulnerable at the intersections of racism, homophobia, transphobia, and transmisogyny.
Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture
Writer, editor, and professor, Roxane Gay edits this anthology that aims to navigate the painful complexities of rape culture. While this anthology’s content is deeply personal, and sometimes difficult to digest, the depth with which it examines the relationship between sexual violence and gender is unmatched. It says “something in totality that we cannot say alone.”
Shunning Medical Hoops, Transgender Patients Turn to ‘Informed Consent’ Model
Written by Shay O’Reilly for Campus Progress, this article takes a look at the informed consent model, and provides a bit of context for how trans and gender non-conforming people gain access to transgender specific healthcare, such as hormone replacement therapy and other medical procedures. O’Reilly both explains the informed consent model, and places it within the contextual history of the older, and often dangerous, gatekeeper standards that have kept trans and gender non-conforming people from accessing the kind of care they desperately need, and shaped an inauthentic, uniform, narrative of “the transgender experience,” for decades.
Stone Butch Blues
Leslie Fienberg’s famous 1993 novel chronicles the complexities of life as a transgender person in the United States over several decades. Stone Butch Blues is a queer classic, but it’s important to remember that Feinberg’s fictionalization of the transgender experience speaks to a very specific time, place, experience, and racialized element.
India’s Third Gender Movement: The Zainab Salbi Project Episode 2
In the second episode of host Zainab Sabli’s documentary series produced by Huffpost, Salbi more deeply explores the secretive culture of hijra communities in India. This documentary features Laxmi Narayan Tripathi and navigates the complex intersections of discrimination, caste, violence, tradition, public policy, Hinduism, and sex work in India.
This episode features the first hijra mayor to serve openly in India, as well as intimate discussions with several other hijra people about their own stories of acceptance, assault, triumph, and pain. If you are interested in learning more about the history of gender non-conforming identities and communities outside of the United States, particularly in South Asia, this short documentary is a good place to start.
Hate Crimes and Violence Against Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People
Published by the Human Rights Campaign, this report provides a comprehensive, intersectional look at the anatomy of hate crime and “bias-motivated crime.” This report breaks down everything from the politics of hate-crime laws to the exact spaces in which certain LGBTQIA+ people are most vulnerable to physical, emotional, and/or psychological violence. This report also addresses larger systemic trends of violence produced upon LGBTQ+ people, examines the roots causes of implicit prejudice toward LGBTQ+ people, and works to highlight and examine common predictors of violence.
This report acknowledges that more hate crimes occur than are reported, and analyzes the complex social, cultural, and legal factors that contribute to under-reporting. The findings included in this report are vital in the crafting of policy that might better protect LGBTQ+ people from violence.
Matt Shepard is a Friend of Mine
This 2013 documentary about Matthew Shepard’s death spotlights the brutal and crushing reality of homophobic hate crimes. Matthew Shepard was murdered in the fall of 1998, and while this documentary wrestles with the national politics of his violent death, it is also a quiet remembrance of a person who was well loved.
This film provides a painful look at the “panic defense,” and our shameful lack of federal anti-hate crime laws. That is, until Matthew’s mother, Judy, helped successfully pass the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crime Prevention Act in 2009. This film is gutting, but never once feels exploitative. If you are unfamiliar with Matt’s story, this covers a lot of ground, and functions as a posthumous and hard earned goodbye.
It's also important to remember that physical, psychological, and structural violence affect LGBTQIA+ people of color at highly disproportionate rates. Matthew’s death gained national attention, but it is important to remember the many LGBTQ+ people of color who suffered the same fate in near or total silence.
Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Youth: An Epidemic of Homelessness
This report, published by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the National Coalition for Homelessness, is an intersectional look at homelessness among LGBTQIA+ youth.
While homeless youth make up around 7% of the general population, more than 40% of all homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+. This study examines the factors that contribute to such disproportionate rates of homelessness for LGBTQ+ youth, and, more specifically, LGBTQ+ youth of color.
Who Are You?: The Kids’ Guide to Gender Identity
Created by Brook Pessin-Whedbee and Naomi Bardoff, this book is a simple and helpful guide to help facilitate discussions about gender and gender identity with kids. While gender is a complex social system, dependent on many other contributing factors, children often understand many of the complexities of gender expression and performance without much prompting.
Because we teach gender through a system of social sanction and reward, kids spend the first three to five years of their lives learn how to "do" gender Most kids have formed a fairly complex version of their own gender identities by the age of three. But for kids who may be struggling with the idea of reconciling their own gender identities with the gendered expectations they see upheld in the world around them, books like this one can be a vital resource.
Providing kids with language that helps them navigate gender can be life saving! If you think your child may be struggling, are looking for a way to explain a friend of classmate’s gender identity, or are simply looking for a way to spark conversations about how to respect people of all genders, this book is a great place to start.
Hate Violence Against Transgender Communities
This simple graphic provided by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs juxtaposes statistics related violence produced upon transgender people. These stats are intersectional, taking into account the intersections of racism, transmisogyny, and transphobia. Each statistic is also accompanied by a quick explanation of how and why trans and gender non-conforming people—and, in particular, transgender people of color—are doubly, sometimes triply, affected by racism, transphobia, and transmisogyny, and therefore made more vulnerable to certain types of violence, including disproportionately high rates of HIV/AIDS contraction as compared to their straight, white, cisgender counterparts.
Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws
Hello Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws is an informal and complex suicide prevention resource. Bornstein is not a licensed doctor, but she did experience the pain and joy of a medical and social gender transition at a time when trans people were much less visible in mainstream narratives about gender, and had more limited access to resources and support networks.
Bornstein is an activist, writer, public speaker, and gender theorist. Her book isn’t perfect, but it may offer a kind of hope in the midst of the struggle, and an insight into the kind of life one might have post-transition.
Kate Bornstein’s website is a good resource for people struggling with suicidal thoughts, mental health issues, gender dysphoria, or just general growing-up-kinds of confusion. This site also offers a free PDF download of a Hello Cruel World’s mini-version.