‘A beautiful, brilliant, lively book that weaves together fascinating and moving examples with thoughtful analysis. Both heartfelt and rigorous, entertaining and scholarly, Before We Were Trans invites us to expand our sense of communities – past and present – in welcoming ways, rather than contracting them and policing their borders’ MEG-JOHN BARKER, author of Gender: A Graphic Guide
‘Celebrates trans history, whilst acknowledging the reality of what it means to live within our community with joy and kindness. In-depth research and personal stories tie Before We Were Trans up into a true treat for the mind’ JAMIE WINDUST, author of In Their Shoes
Across the world today, people of all ages are doing fascinating, creative, messy things with gender. These people have a rich history – but one that is often left behind by narratives of trans lives that focus on people with stable, binary, uncomplicated gender identities. As a result, these stories tend to be recent, binary, stereotyped, medicalised and white.
Before We Were Trans is a new and different story of gender, that seeks not to be comprehensive or definitive, but – by blending culture, feminism and politics – to widen the scope of what we think of as trans history by telling the stories of people across the globe whose experience of gender has been transgressive, or not characterised by stability or binary categories.
Transporting us from Renaissance Venice to seventeenth-century Angola, from Edo Japan to North America, the stories this book tells leave questions and resist conclusions. They are fraught with ambiguity, and defy modern Western terminology and categories – not least the category of ‘trans’ itself. But telling them provides a history that reflects the richness of modern trans reality more closely than any previously written.
Before We Were Trans is a history and celebration of gender in all its fluidity, ambiguity and complexity.