“I think anyone claiming it’s a trend has little knowledge of the hardship trans people go through”, says the author and trans activist Owl.
“These claims are made by those that have never spent any meaningful time with trans people”.
In some ways it has never been easier to come out as trans, but the number of young people transitioning has been met with very vocal and angry voices online.
Owl and their partner Fox Fisher have produced what they’re calling a survival guide for trans teenagers. The handbook they wished they’d had when they are younger.
We had nothing like this
“It would’ve helped me massively feel affirmed and recognised for who I was, as well as finding a sense of a community out there”, Owl told TransNews.
“We really hope that this book will be of help to young people and their families, and that it will be available in schools for kids to see, even if they aren’t trans”.
The “Trans Teen Survival Guide” talks about all aspects of transitioning, whether it’s to female, male or non-binary genders.
It’s written by the couple, and illustrated by Fox. And it has very personal contributions from young people, sharing their own experiences of transitioning.
Finally finding a voice
Owl believes that it’s incredibly positive that more people are now coming out as trans in their childhood or teens.
They think that means that this a lot of this generation will not have to suffer through their teenage years, as previous generations have.
There has been a large increase in the number of young people being referred to gender services in the last decade, but Owl says it’s actually still not high.
“The rise in people coming out as trans is simply because we’re finally finding a voice in society and we are having these conversations”, Owl told us.
“People finally know it’s a possibility”.
How it feels to be trans
The book begins with advice on how to know if you are trans or not.
“It’s a bit like you signed up for a French class, but when you get there everyone is speaking Spanish”, the book says.
“Something just isn’t the way it should be. So essentially, being trans means that you aren’t actually the boy or the girl everyone seems to think you are”.
The message is that there is no right or wrong way to transition. And that transitioning isn’t just about hormones and surgeries.
“Because different things work for different people and we’re all different. It’s about you, and you alone. It’s about what you want, regardless of anything else”.
The book does go into detail about the medical side of transitioning, but it’s not limited to that. There is practical advice on choosing a name, how to change it officially, and how to get it on official documents.
There’s a guide on choosing clothing to suit your personality, body and style. And there’s a whole section on coming out.
It includes examples of real coming out letters by young people, as well as practical advice on timing and safety.
“If you’re afraid your family will respond in a very negative or even an aggressive manner, making certain arrangements beforehand is good preparation for that eventuality.
“Make sure you have a safe place to go and stay for a while if that’s needed”.
“Remember that family and friends might sometimes need some time before they can come to terms with your coming out and support you”.
The book is inspired by a Tumblr page of the same name, by Chrissi Bentley. Chris took her own life in April this year, and the book is dedicated to her.
It’s out on 21st September 2018, from Jessica Kingsley publishers.
We’ll leave you with something Owl told us that we liked the sound of.
“No child, or adult for that matter, should have to hide who they are”.
Picture Credits: Owl and Fox Fisher, from Jessica Kingsley publishers. Book cover, by Fox Fisher from Jessica Kingsley publishers. Illustration, by Fox Fisher taken from the book for review purposes.