Trans – a memoir by Juliet Jacques

TransI bought this book recently and was so pleased it came just before my short break in the lake district. I’ve been a fan of Juliet’s for ages and was absolutely thrilled when I heard she was working on a book and even more excited to get my hands on it.

For me, Juliet is one of the unsung heroes of the trans community here in the UK. Just one of those people who have moved beyond the label of transgender and lives her life. Intelligent, well written and insightful, I got through the paper copy in just under a week of night time reading and then bought the kindle copy so that I could conveniently take it around with me and return to it often, which I look forward to !!! (There’s even an audiobook now !!)

With the mainstream media adopting an increasing number of transgender personalities and their stories into their regular broadcasting, it would be easy to lose sight of  something as special as this book.  But what makes it so good ?  Well, firstly, it’s written in such a personal, enjoyable style, but if you knew her, you’d expect that.  She is a talented journalist and writer, regularly appearing in UK national newspapers and magazines.  Even with that expectation though, you still aren’t prepared for how good it is, which is for the second reason.  “Trans – a memoir” is Juliet’s own personal and very detailed account of what it’s like to be transgender.  Even being trans myself,  I learnt a huge amount from reading it, not least of which was once you pick it up, you can’t put it back down again !!!  A definite must read for anyone interested in learning about transgender issues.

I would describe it as an honest, funny, brave and moving story through gender expression and maybe even feminism.  More than that, it’s about gender variance and it’s difficult interaction with social acceptance. It beautifully describes Juliet’s experiences in such a moving way, you’re struck by not just how likeable and brave she is, but also how much you want her to be her friend (seriously – she’s SO nice !!!)  She deals with really difficult situations through her transition with an inner calm and voice which should act an inspiration and model for people going through their own transition.  It’s all in here, self acceptance, the frustration with the NHS, recognition from family and friends, feeling good in your own skin afterwards, it’s all in here.  Intimately told, it’s a fascinating personal stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after you’ve archived it back to your library shelf to look at with happy memories.

I genuinely hope you don’t just read this review, either here or on Amazon, I wish that you go out and buy it.  It’s a great addition to the increasing library of meaningful trans literature and manages to explain the intricacies of a huge variety of genders and sexualities, the history of feminism and transgender, ethical dilemmas of confessional journalism, and a lot of Trans film and culture while weaving it all through her own story. Personal and political and incredibly well executed. Her writing on depression is incredibly sensitive and eloquent.  This is written so well. Gives a very detailed experience of what it’s like to be transgender – I learnt a huge amount from reading it, and could not put it down. A definite read for everyone.

Would happily recommend this as a worthwhile addition to the libraries of trans people out there from an important woman. Read it, treasure it and celebrate it.

You can buy “Trans – a memoir” at the following link – as I said, it’s available in a variety of formats – pick your favourite and dive in !!!

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