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Kate Bornstein's Top Book Recommendations

Want to know what books Kate Bornstein recommends on their reading list? We've researched interviews, social media posts, podcasts, and articles to build a comprehensive list of Kate Bornstein's favorite book recommendations of all time.


Gender Outlaws

The Next Generation

In the 15 years since the release of Gender Outlaw, Kate Bornstein's groundbreaking challenge to gender ideology, transgender narratives have made their way from the margins to the mainstream and back again. Today's transgenders and other sex/gender radicals are writing a drastically new world into being. In Gender Outlaws, Bornstein, together with writer, raconteur, and theater artist S. Bear Bergman, collects and contextualizes the work of this generation's trans and genderqueer forward thinkers — new voices from the stage, on the streets, in the workplace, in the bedroom, and... more
Recommended by Kate Bornstein, and 1 others.

Kate BornsteinI’m proud of that book. Seal Press had been after me for a couple of years to update Gender Outlaw after 15 years. I thought about it, because there are sections of Gender Outlaws that are dated. Then I thought: There’s a whole new generation of gender outlaws who could voice the progress of the transgender movement far more eloquently than I was equipped to. Each and every article in that... (Source)

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In the updated second edition of Whipping Girl, Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist, shares her powerful experiences and observation-both pre- and post-transition-to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole.
Serano's well-honed arguments stem from her ability to bridge the gap between the often-disparate biological and social...
Recommended by Kate Bornstein, and 1 others.

Kate BornsteinThis is the first analysis that strongly ties the male-to-female transgender experience to misogyny. It goes beyond the individual narrative into a political analysis from a transwoman point of view. Julia called me out for my failure to point out the fact that trans misogyny is evident, in that transsexual women most often bear the brunt of the mainstream – or meanstream – media’s obsession with... (Source)

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Preludes & Nocturnes (The Sandman, #1)

New York Times best-selling author Neil Gaiman's transcendent series SANDMAN is often hailed as the definitive Vertigo title and one of the finest achievements in graphic storytelling. Gaiman created an unforgettable tale of the forces that exist beyond life and death by weaving ancient mythology, folklore and fairy tales with his own distinct narrative vision.

In PRELUDES & NOCTURNES, an occultist attempting to capture Death to bargain for eternal life traps her younger brother Dream instead. After his 70 year imprisonment and eventual escape, Dream, also known as Morpheus,...
Recommended by Kate Bornstein, and 1 others.

Kate BornsteinCrossing gender is not phenomenal in Neil Gaiman’s universe – it just happens. In his cosmology desire has no gender, which is a profound statement in and of itself. There are trans characters in the books, including one based on a common friend of ours, Roz Kaveney, a poet and trans activist. The Sandman doesn’t exactly make trans normal, but he makes it something that’s expected. (Source)

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Stone Butch Blues

Woman or man? This internationally acclaimed novel looks at the world through the eyes of Jess Goldberg, a masculine girl growing up in the "Ozzie and Harriet" McCarthy era and coming out as a young butch lesbian in the pre-Stonewall gay drag bars of a blue-collar town. Stone Butch Blues traces a propulsive journey, powerfully evoking history and politics while portraying an extraordinary protagonist full of longing, vulnerability, and working-class grit. This once-underground classic takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride of gender transformation and exploration and ultimately speaks to... more
Recommended by Kate Bornstein, Juliet Jacques, and 2 others.

Kate BornsteinStone Butch Blues is the trans classic. Everybody who reads it takes away something different. It’s one of those magical books that has an entrance point for every queer person. And that’s an amazing accomplishment for a book. It’s something I aspire to. (Source)

Juliet JacquesIt’s a very traumatic book, it illustrates a lot of problems of cross-gender, or gender-variant, living at the time. (Source)

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For two years Ester Newton did field research in the world of drag queens—homosexual men who make a living impersonating women. Newton spent time in the noisy bars, the chaotic dressing rooms, and the cheap apartments and hotels that make up the lives of drag queens, interviewing informants whose trust she had earned and compiling a lively, first-hand ethnographic account of the culture of female impersonators. Mother Camp explores the distinctions that drag queens make among themselves as performers, the various kinds of night clubs and acts they depend on for a living, and the social... more
Recommended by Kate Bornstein, and 1 others.

Kate BornsteinEsther Newton looked at drag queens, and an underground gay phenomenon that had been going on for an awful long time. It’s called camp. Let me tell you what a camp is. Camp is laughing to the point where we don’t have to cry about it. If you could imagine Stephen Colbert, instead of skewering politics by pretending to be a right-wing fanatic, skewering gender by pretending to be a femme fatale.... (Source)

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