A Radically Queer Gift Guide: Gifts for Queer Readers
While I’m not exactly a great big fan of capitalist gift-obtaining sprees, I’m pretty excited to finally have a year where I remember to post a Radically Queer Gift Guide. Why? Well, I do enjoy putting my money where my mouth is, and so many of the gifts I’ll suggest in these series come from creators and businesses I’m proud to support. Others may be from larger companies, so of course spend at your own discretion, but I am guilty as the next person of sometimes falling prey to the lure of big-box geekery.
For the first post in this series, the focus is on books, always my favorite gift to give and receive. I’m featuring some favorites both old and new that will appeal to radicals, queers, activists, and anyone on your list who appreciates a bit of mind-opening in paperback form.
decolonizing trans/gender 101 by b. binaohan
Hands down the best book I read this year. I haven’t gotten around to posting a review or the several blog posts I would like to write after reading this book because when I sit down to do so, I mostly flail my hands around a lot and think “so much to saaaay,” but this is a must-read, particularly for any white trans folks who ever lead trans 101 discussions, as well as for pretty much everyone in trans communities. B. takes on Nicholas Teich’s popular trans 101 book point by point and deconstructs and exposes many of the problems inherent both in Teich’s particular words and in the common white trans 101 narrative that many of us learn whether in formal form or not. B., who is a bakla writer and one of the folks whose criticisms led me to close #transchat and think more critically about the impossibility of “safe space” online for trans women and non-binary folks of color, focuses on the specific experiences of trans indigenous people and/or people of color and how white “umbrella” narratives appropriate and misunderstand that narrative. This is a highly accessible read.
The Inheritance Trilogy by N.K. Jemisin
If you have fantasy fans on your shopping list, including any precocious teen readers (though this is not, I should specify, a YA series), then this trilogy or at least its first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, is an easy choice. N.K. Jemisin is a woman of color who both gets into discussions that tickle me pink on Twitter and writes fantastic, thought-provoking fantasy with marvelous world-building and a diverse cast that includes many character of color, queer characters, polyamory, and characters with disabilities. She is a truly gifted storyteller who weaves myths in such a way as to seem effortless, and I couldn’t put this series down. (In truth, I’ve never reviewed it because I can’t actually talk about it without sounding like a gushing fanqueer). It’s complex but still accessible, and I wish this series had been around when I was in my early twenties. I particularly recommend this one for young-ish queer adults of color who are searching for more representation in their fantasy.
This is sort of a cop-out recommendation, I know, but I couldn’t decide which of these three books I wanted to recommend, and all of them are amazing for any activists on your list, especially younger folks who are involved in progressive activism but might need a somewhat more radical and anti-racist push. Color of Violence focuses on all forms of violence against women of color, The Revolution Will Not Be Funded looks at the non-profit industrial complex and is a great way to challenge non-profit workers to think critically about our work, and Conquest is Andrea Smith’s masterful centering of Native women in the feminist discussion of sexual violence. All three would make a fantastic gift pack.
Fucking Trans Women by Mira Bellwether
Because I’m five years old, I wanted to throw in a “naughty” recommendation, and this zine has been recommended to me by a bunch of people, though full disclosure I’ve bought but not read it yet, so it’s more of a “hey, this is a probably cool thing that exists!” recommendation. Written by trans women about their own sex lives, this is a zine that puts trans female sexuality back into trans women’s own hands.
Queer and Trans Artists of Color edited by Nia King
This is actually not a book I’ve read, but one I’m really excited to buy for myself for a holiday present, because oh my God! So exciting! It’s a collection of stories/interviews with queer and trans artists of color, like it says on the tin, and includes some of my favorite artists. I don’t know of anything else quite like it, and am especially excited to read that the book includes coverage not only of the art itself but of these artists’ lives and the circumstances that surround their creative work.