Book review: Trans-Kin, edited by Eleanor A. Hubbard and Cameron T. Whitley

Hubbard TransKinHubbard, Eleanor A. and Cameron T. Whitley, editors. Trans-Kin: a Guide for Family & Friends of Transgender People. Boulder Press, 2012. $24.95. PB. ISBN: 9780615630670.

The editors have brought together essays and interviews from significant others, family members, friends, allies, and lastly some persons who are transgender. Each of these sections is preceded by a FAQ. The narratives are supplemented with an excellent glossary, extensive reading and viewing lists, and a list of support organizations, but no index. Poetry and artwork by the contributors is scattered throughout.

Overall, the people who are included are ethnically diverse and seem younger than those in Head over Heels: Wives Who Stay with Cross-dressers and Transsexuals, by Virginia Erhardt, in 2006. That book, however, had more to say about being married to a cross-dresser. The significant others here include both gay and straight-identifying partners and not all their relationships are successful. The writers feel very honest and self-reflective as they talk about sexual and social situations. Siblings as well as parents appear in the family section and some of the trans family members are still children. Rachael Pepper’s valuable Transitions of the Heart (2012) only included mothers.

Even for friends, changing the nature of their relationship can be a challenge. A common theme is the lack of support for family and friends who often have no one but the trans person who understands. Several of the allies address religion or spiritual support through a variety of faiths. The essays by the transgender persons are also focused on relationships.

This book will be a great comfort to anyone who has a relationship they value with a person who has or is considering gender transition. That would include several percent of the users of any public or academic library.

Carolyn Caywood, retired from Virginia Beach Public Library

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