The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye - Review

When thinking about the article I wanted to write this month for trans pride, my first instinct as a cisgender woman was to write about the struggles and hardships trans people face living in the UK due to Conservative Party reviews of government policies. Barely even a week into his prime ministerial term, Rishi Sunak supposedly wants to scrap trans rights from the 2010 Equality Act, which removes the legal right of transgender people to access same-sex facilities, as “it would also mean clarifying that self-identification for transgender people does not have legal force,” according to The Telegraph. While the legislative change threatened by Sunak’s new government is an incredibly important topic, the main media outlets discussing the potential change lack one thing: transgender perspectives.


And that’s exactly what Shon Faye’s debut book, “The Transgender Issue: An Argument for Justice”, does - shed light on the unheard voices of trans people. In the UK, trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people have been turned into some sort of monolith, endlessly stereotyped as predators, or simply seen as a debate topic. Faye’s book masterfully cuts through the bigoted noise of mainstream media, scrapping the all too common ‘bathroom’ arguments, by emphasising the stories of a range of trans people, interweaving her own anecdotes as a trans woman throughout her writing. By focusing on the experiences of trans people that are seen as too ‘taboo’ to discuss on daytime television talk shows - such as homelessness or the reliance of some trans people on sex work as their livelihood - Faye highlights how trans individuals are often not only neglected from mainstream society, but from feminist and queer spaces alike. The last two chapters, entitled ‘Kissing Cousins: The T in LGBT’ and ‘The Ugly Sister: Trans People in Feminism’ particularly focus on this exclusion.


As both a cis woman and an intersectional feminist, this feels like an essential read to further my allyship of trans people, and fully understand the main goal for the future lives of transgender individuals across the UK; liberation. Trans people deserve to not only survive, but live freely and comfortably in our society - whether it be with access to life-saving gender affirming healthcare, the right to housing, or simply the feeling of safety when walking down the street. This can only be achieved by solidarity - not just amongst the general population, but also across minority groups. By including non-cis voices within the media, we can topple the negative narratives of trans people on their heads, and rather focus on trans joy, trans freedom, and trans pride.


“We are not an ‘issue’ to be debated and derided. We are symbols of hope for many non-trans people, too, who see in our lives the possibility of living more fully and freely. That is why some people hate us: they are frightened by the gleaming opulence of our freedom. Our existence enriches this world.” - Shon Faye


Sources

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2022/10/27/age-appropriate-sex-education-set-enforced-sunak-administration/


https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2022/11/01/rishi-sunak-trans-equality-act/


Images

Cover image courtesy of Charlotte Green.


Writer

Avid reader, cat lover, and intersectional feminist. She/Her

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