Thursday, 19 July 2018

The Reading List ..

Reading List 

Ok … no excuses as I’ve just been preoccupied with life and not been adding to my Blog. So time to make amends and fill you in on some areas of things that have interested me over the last few months. 

Here are reviews of two different books that both have transgender themes, but at opposite ends of the scale. One is light fluff whilst the other is academically acclaimed – I enjoyed both for totally different reasons and would fully recommend reading Christine Burns book for the personal insights to an important period of time. 

I am not a great reader as I have been over exposed to reading medical textbooks during my studies for my nursing degree and occupational health masters, but often catch a few pages of something light before turning the bedside light off at night. 

My partner is the polar opposite and is an avid reader of mystery novels with a keen interest in strong female writers and characters. Recently we were traveling in Germany and she passed me a book suggesting that I may enjoy it. 

‘’Dangerous Crossing’’   by Rachel Rhys has been a popular book since its publishing and has been included in popular literary recommendations in the UK.
The story focuses on a woman who is sailing from the UK to Australia just before the start of the second world war, to work as a ladies maid. 

At that time there was a supported emigration program that supported individuals to travel and find work on arrival. Our heroine finds the classless society on the ship exciting when she is thrown together with a group of misfits and wealthy social outcasts.

The ship travels the exotic route south stopping off at various locations and give a glimpse of the different cultures found there at that time. 

Of course as you would expect there is a Transgender interest in the story (why else would I be reporting on it here …) an I’ll not disrupt your enjoyment by revealing it here. 
However I will discuss the areas of the concept behind the characterisation of the Transgender interest as I feel that the story was sympathetic to their issues and probably correct in its management in the period of the stories setting. 

The 1930’s was an era uneducated and intolerant of anything ‘alternative’ despite the roaring twenties having a reputation for ‘anything goes’ and the ‘beautiful people’ of the day.

I enjoyed the read and found the descriptions of the outfits and styles of the day to be exquisite, with the verbal banter and three dimensional development of the key characters  two dimensional lives. If you are looking for a light read for the summer or travel book then this would fit the bill! 

Paperback: 464 pages
Publisher: Black Swan (10 Aug. 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1784162590
ISBN-13: 978-1784162597

 Now for something completely different !

Since I have been out and proud since the 1970’s I have followed the progression of the British transgender community and have been part of its struggles and conquests. During this time a dedicated team of activists took on the British Government and pressed them to change the laws and support those who wished to have their gender reassigned legally.  One of the key members of Press For Change was Christine Burns, who, along with Steven Whittle and others such as Mark Rees, took the fight to the courts and to the members of parliament select committees to advise on what could be/should be done.  

Obviously they had some success following all their excellent work and we have been the recipients of that effort. 
Recently Christine has taken on the challenge to document the progression of the transgender movement from the early sixties to modern times by compiling ‘snap shot stories’ and memoirs from people who lived though that era. 

I was honoured to be asked to contribute to the book and provided information on my experiences of the day and provide some of the background literature to support the research and illustrate the book. 

My official review from Amazon of ’Trans Britain – our journey from the shadows’’ ''covers, what I feel, the most important time in the history of transgender in the UK.
It is set in the time before computers, internet and iPhones, when all the meetings were word of mouth, secret meetings where held to help protect identities, and early exploration into the transitioning process.

For me this was the time when I first came out, when the night club Disco was still the cool place to go and AIDs was rearing its ugly head.
Christines book captures this in her focused narration and lets others from that era add their voices to the mix giving a good overview of how life for a spectrum of transgender people was back in the day.

This includes her insight into the development of ‘Press for Change’ who lobbed governments on our behalf and the development of proper care pathways, work rights and visibility in society, things we take for granted nowadays.

I enjoyed the read and found the way the book is compiled easy to dip in and out, reading about each individuals story and build up a colourful impression of the period and put myself in their shoes with hindsight to fill in ‘what happened next’. ''

Hardcover: 400 pages
Publisher: Unbound (25 Jan. 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1783524715
ISBN-13: 978-1783524716 

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