DNF Review: Trans Voices by Declan Henry

I received an eARC of Trans Voices from the publisher, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

The author of Trans Voices is a gay social worker, not a trans person, so I was hesitant at first, but I gave it a shot because he had worked & interviewed trans people, including those who identify as non-binary.

I firmly believe that awareness and knowledge break down ignorance and bigotry and can create a world where everybody can get on with their business without interference or prejudice, thus allowing people to become whoever they want to be. Therefore it is the voices in this book that will reach out to you when descriptions of their experiences are conveyed because they are coming from lived lives, rather than from me as a mere spectator. Ultimately, I hope these voices will draw closer to what it is like to be a trans person in today’s world.

I had high hopes after that statement, but the inclusion of research “connecting” being trans to being autistic killed this book for me, as someone on the autism spectrum and as a generally informed human being. Autism research is regularly badly thought out, and fails to take into account the people it’s missing with it’s study.

The study quoted [found here] is problematic because for a long time, the only reason that people assigned female at birth were taken to be diagnosed because they weren’t presenting as ladylike or as pliable as their parents wanted them to be, which plays into gender identity. It gets ignored in so many of us, or it’s misdiagnosed. None of that was discussed within any of the study writings linked above, despite that they mentioned that all of this was self-reported. Not to mention, the study was not able to prove its hypothesis, so it shouldn’t have been included except as a theory.

Because I know this about this particular study, I don’t trust the author to be accurate throughout the rest of the book, and I won’t be continuing. If this book had been just the stories from the trans people that the author interviewed, I would have enjoyed it. In fact, if that had been the book (like I thought it was when I requested it…) I would have loved it. There’s a lot of things this book could have been, and it just wasn’t.

In the future, I’ll stick to books by trans people about their own experiences. This has made me wary of other books by Jessica Kingsley Publishers, and I will definitely be hesitant before requesting other books by them. I hope they’ll do better in the future.

5 thoughts on “DNF Review: Trans Voices by Declan Henry

  1. Sheesh, I’m glad to know about this book. I get so frustrated when people report inconclusive results from bad science studies — it’s so obviously putting forth an agenda, and it really frustrates me.

    1. Seriously. And the cited study was tangentially related to the topic at hand. I expected better from this author, when this topic is so incredibly complicated. Also the idea of a “male brain” just makes me want to stab things.

  2. Hi, Ceillie! DNF reviews totally count, but they must also meet the 300 word count minimum for #ReadDiverse2017. Quotes are not included in the word count. You can update your review to have it meet the word length, if you want. If so, let me know when it’s been updated and I’ll count it! For now, it doesn’t quite get the point.

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