Gender and Gender Identity

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Southern Comfort
Davis, Kate. Southern Comfort. New Video Group, 2003. Film @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
Southern Comfort is a 2001 documentary film about the final year in the life of Robert Eads, a transgender man. Eads, diagnosed with ovarian cancer, was turned down for treatment by a dozen doctors out of fear that treating such a patient would hurt their reputations. By the time Eads received treatment, the cancer was too advanced to save his life.
Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?
Davis, Heath Fogg. Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?. New York: New York University Press, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Goes beyond transgender to question the need for gender classification. Beyond Trans pushes the conversation on gender identity to its limits: questioning the need for gender categories in the first place. Whether on birth certificates or college admissions applications or on bathroom doors, why do we need to mark people and places with sex categories? Do they serve a real purpose or are these places and forms just mechanisms of exclusion? Heath Fogg Davis offers an impassioned call to rethink the usefulness of dividing the world into not just Male and Female categories but even additional categories of Transgender and gender fluid. Davis, himself a transgender man, explores the underlying gender-enforcing policies and customs in American life that have led to transgender bathroom bills, college admissions controversies, and more, arguing that it is necessary for our society to take real steps to challenge the assumption that gender matters. He examines four areas where we need to re-think our sex-classification systems: sex-marked identity documents such as birth certificates, driver's licenses and passports; sex-segregated public restrooms; single-sex colleges; and sex-segregated sports. Speaking from his own experience and drawing upon major cases of sex discrimination in the news and in the courts, Davis presents a persuasive case for challenging how individuals are classified according to sex and offers concrete recommendations for alleviating sex identity discrimination and sex-based disadvantage--Publisher's website.

Patsy
Dennis-Benn, Nicole. Patsy. New York: Liveright Publishing Corporation, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A Jamaican woman leaves her daughter behind to immigrate to New York, where the happier life she expected is difficult to find as an undocumented worker." -- adapted from jacket description.

"When Patsy gets her long-coveted visa to America, she looks forward leaving Pennyfield, the beautiful but impoverished Jamaican town where they were raised. Her plans don't include her overzealous, evangelical mother-- or her own five-year-old daughter, Tru. When Patsy arrives in Brooklyn, she survives as an undocumented immigrant, working as a bathroom attendant and nanny. Meanwhile, Tru builds a faltering relationship with her father back in Jamaica, grappling with her own questions of identity and sexuality, and trying desperately to empathize with her mother's decision." -- adapted from jacket
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The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls
Eltahawy, Mona. The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls. Boston: Beacon Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
 "A bold and uncompromising feminist manifesto that shows women and girls how to defy, disrupt, and destroy the patriarchy by embracing the qualities they've been trained to avoid. Seizing upon the energy of the #MeToo movement, feminist activist Mona Eltahawy advocates a muscular, out-loud approach to teaching women and girls to harness their power through what she calls the "seven necessary sins" that women and girls are not supposed to commit: to be angry, ambitious, profane, violent, attention-seeking, lustful, and powerful. All the necessary "sins" that women and girls require to erupt. Eltahawy knows that the patriarchy is alive and well, and she is fed the hell up: Sexually assaulted during hajj at the age of fifteen. Groped on the dance floor of a night club in Montreal at fifty. Countless other injustices in the years between. Illuminating her call to action are stories of activists and ordinary women around the world--from South Africa to China, Nigeria to India, Bosnia to Egypt--who are tapping into their inner fury and crossing the lines of race, class, faith, and gender that make it so hard for marginalized women to be heard. Rather than teaching women and girls to survive the poisonous system they have found themselves in, Eltahawy arms them to dismantle it. Brilliant, bold, and energetic, The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls is a manifesto for all feminists in the fight against patriarchy"-- Provided by publisher.

"In seven essays that combine memoir, polemic and cultural criticism, Mona Eltahawy explains how we must seize what she calls the feminist revolutionary moment that has galvanized women and queer people across the world through such movements as #MeToo, to support survivors of sexual assault and expose predators, the Irish women who successfully led a successful referendum to legalize abortion in their country, the South Korean women who have held the largest women's protests in their country against spycams that are used to invade their privacy, to the LGBTQ activists in India who pushed their Supreme Court to overturn British colonial era legislation criminalizing homosexuality"-- Provided by publisher.
Dear Senthuran: A Black spirit memoir
Emezi, Akwaeke. Dear Senthuran: A Black spirit memoir. New York: Riverhead Books, 2021. eBook @ Harvard Library [HarvardKey required]Abstract
"In three critically acclaimed novels, Akwaeke Emezi has introduced readers to a landscape marked by familial tensions, Igbo belief systems, and a boundless search for what it means to be free. Now, in this extraordinary memoir, the bestselling author of The Death of Vivek Oji reveals the harrowing yet resolute truths of their own life. Through candid, intimate correspondence with friends, lovers, and family, Emezi traces the unfolding of a self and the unforgettable journey of a creative spirit stepping into power in the human world. Their story weaves through transformative decisions about their gender and body, their precipitous path to success as a writer, and the turmoil of relationships on an emotional, romantic, and spiritual plane, culminating in a book that is as tender as it is brutal. Electrifying and inspiring, animated by the same voracious intelligence that distinguishes Emezi's fiction, Dear Senthuran is a revelatory account of storytelling, self, and survival." - Publisher description.
The Death of Vivek Oji
Emezi, Akwaeke. The Death of Vivek Oji. New York: Riverhead Books, 2020. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"A tender, potent, and compulsively readable novel of a Nigerian-Indian family and the deeply held secret that tests their traditions and bonds"– Provided by publisher., Southeastern Nigeria. Raised by a distant father and an understanding but overprotective mother, Vivek suffers disorienting blackouts, moments of disconnection between self and surroundings. As adolescence gives way to adulthood, Vivek finds solace in friendships with the boisterous daughters of the Nigerwives, foreign-born women married to Nigerian men. But Vivek's closest bond is with Osita, the worldly, high-spirited cousin whose teasing confidence masks a guarded private life. As their relationship deepens, an act of violence leads to a family's struggle with loss and transcendence. – adapted from jacket

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Sabrina & Corina: Stories
Fajardo-Anstine, Kali. Sabrina & Corina: Stories. New York: One World, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Kali Fajardo-Anstine's magnetic story collection breathes life into her Latina characters of indigenous ancestry and the land they inhabit in the American West. Against the remarkable backdrop of Denver, Colorado--a place that is as fierce as it is exquisite--these women navigate the land the way they navigate their lives: with caution, grace, and quiet force."

Drag King Dreams
Feinberg, Leslie. Drag King Dreams. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
" A veteran of the women's and gay movement of the past 30 years, Max's mid-life crisis hits in the midst of the post-9/11 world. Max is lonely and uncertain about her future -- fearful, in fact, of America's future with its War on Terror and War in Iraq -- with only a core group of friends to turn to for reassurance. Max is shaken from her crisis, however, by the news that her friend Vickie, a transvestite, has been found murdered on her way home late one night. As the community of cross-dressers, drag queens, lesbian and gay men, and "genderqueers" of all kinds stand up together in the face of this tragedy, Max taps into the activist spirit she thought had long disappeared and for the first time in years discovers hope for her future."
Stone Butch Blues
Feinberg, Leslie. Stone Butch Blues. Ithaca, NY: Firebrand Books, 1993. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Jess Goldberg decides to come out as a butch in the bars and factories of the pre-feminist '60s and then to pass as a man in order to survive when she is left without work or a community in the early '70s."
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Bad Feminist: Essays
Gay, Roxane. Bad Feminist: Essays. New York: Harper Perennial, 2014. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A collection of essays spanning politics, criticism, and feminism from one of the most-watched young cultural observers of her generation, Roxane Gay. "Pink is my favorite color. I used to say my favorite color was black to be cool, but it is pink, all shades of pink. If I have an accessory, it is probably pink. I read Vogue, and I'm not doing it ironically, though it might seem that way. I once live-tweeted the September issue." In these funny and insightful essays, Roxane Gay takes us through the journey of her evolution as a woman (Sweet Valley High) of color (The Help) while also taking readers on a ride through culture of the last few years (Girls, Django in Chains) and commenting on the state of feminism today (abortion, Chris Brown). The portrait that emerges is not only one of an incredibly insightful woman continually growing to understand herself and our society, but also one of our culture. Bad Feminist is a sharp, funny, and spot-on look at the ways in which the culture we consume becomes who we are, and an inspiring call-to-arms of all the ways we still need to do better."
Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body
Gay, Roxane. Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body. New York: Harper, 2017. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Roxane Gay addresses the experience of living in a body that she calls 'wildly undisciplined.' She casts an insightful and critical eye over her childhood, teens, and twenties -- including the devastating act of violence that was a turning point at age 12 -- and brings readers into the present and the realities, pains, and joys of her daily life. With candor, vulnerability, and authority, Roxane explores what it means to be overweight in a time when the bigger you are, the less you are seen."
Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else
Giménez Smith, Carmen. Bring Down the Little Birds: On Mothering, Art, Work, and Everything Else. Camino del sol. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2010. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"How does a contemporary woman with a career as a poet, professor, and editor experience motherhood with one small child, another soon to be born, and her own mother suddenly diagnosed with a brain tumor and Alzheimer’s? The dichotomy between life as a mother and life as an artist and professional is a major theme in modern literature because often the two seem irreconcilable. In Bring Down the Little Birds, Carmen Giménez Smith faces this seeming irreconcilability head-on, offering a powerful and necessary lyric memoir to shed light on the difficulties—and joys—of being a mother juggling work, art, raising children, pregnancy, and being a daughter to an ailing mother, and, perhaps most important, offering a rigorous and intensely imaginative contemplation on the concept of motherhood as such.

Writing in fragmented yet coherent sections, the author shares with us her interior monologue, affording the reader a uniquely honest, insightful, and deeply personal glimpse into a woman’s first and second journeys into motherhood. Giménez Smith begins Bring Down the Little Birds by detailing the relationship with her own mother, from whom her own concept of motherhood originated, a conception the author continually reevaluates and questions over the course of the book.

Combining fragments of thought, daydreams, entries from notebooks both real and imaginary, and real-life experiences, Giménez Smith interrogates everything involved in becoming and being a mother for both the first and second time, from wondering what her children will one day know about her own “secret life” to meditations on the physical effects of pregnancy as well as the myths, the nostalgia, and the glorification of motherhood.

While Giménez Smith incorporates universal experiences of motherhood that other authors have detailed throughout literature, what separates her book from these many others is that her reflections are captured in a style that establishes an intimacy and immediacy between author and reader through which we come to know the secret life of a mother and are made to question our own conception of what motherhood really means."

Autobiography of a Face
Grealy, Lucy. Autobiography of a Face. First Mariner Books edition. Boston: Mariner Books, 2016. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"This powerful memoir is about the premium we put on beauty and on a woman's face in particular. It took Lucy Grealy twenty years of living with a distorted self-image and more than thirty reconstructive procedures before she could come to terms with her appearance after childhood cancer and surgery that left her jaw disfigured. As a young girl, she absorbed the searing pain of peer rejection and the paralyzing fear of never being loved"– provided by publisher.
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Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts
Hall, Rebecca. Wake: The Hidden History of Women-Led Slave Revolts. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Part graphic novel, part memoir, "Wake" is an imaginative tour de force that tells the story of women-led slave revolts and chronicles scholar Rebecca Hall's efforts to uncover the truth about these warriors who, until now, have been left out of the historical record. Women warriors planned and led slave revolts on ships during the Middle Passage. They fought their enslavers throughout the Americas. And then they were erased from history. "Wake" tells the story of Dr. Rebecca Hall, a historian, granddaughter of slaves, and woman haunted by the legacy of slavery. The accepted history of slave revolts has always told her that enslaved women took a back seat to men in fighting for freedom. But Rebecca decided to look deeper, and her journey takes her through old court records, slave ship captains' logs, crumbling correspondence, and even the forensic evidence from the bones of enslaved women from the "African burial ground" uncovered in Manhattan. She finds women warriors everywhere. Using in-depth archival research and a measured approach to historical imagination, Rebecca constructs the likely pasts of women rebels who fought for freedom during the Middle Passage, as well as the stories of women who led slave revolts in colonial New York. We also follow Rebecca's own story as the legacy of slavery shapes her life, both during the time as an attorney and later as a historian seeking the past that haunts her. The exploration of both a personal and national legacy, "Wake" is a powerful reminder that while the past is gone, we still live in its wake." – jacket summary., "An historical and imaginative tour-de-force, WAKE brings to light for the first time the existence of enslaved black women warriors, whose stories can be traced by carefully scrutinizing historical records; and where the historical record goes silent, WAKE reconstructs the likely past of two female rebels, Adono and Alele, on the slave ship The Unity. WAKE is a graphic novel that offers invaluable insight into the struggle to survive whole as a black woman in today's America; it is a historiography that illuminates both the challenges and the necessity of uncovering the true stories of slavery; and it is an overdue reckoning with slavery in New York City where two of these armed revolts took place. It is, also, a transformative and transporting work of imaginative fiction, bringing to three-dimensional life Adono and Alele and their pasts as women warriors. In so doing, WAKE illustrates the humanity of the enslaved, the reality of their lived experiences, and the complexity of the history that has been, till now, so thoroughly erased"– Provided by publisher
Celestial Bodies: A Novel
Hārithī, Jūkhah, and Marilyn Booth. Celestial Bodies: A Novel. New York: Catapult, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"In the village of al-Awafi in Oman, we encounter three sisters: Mayya, who marries after a heartbreak; Asma, who marries from a sense of duty; and Khawla, who chooses to refuse all offers and await a reunion with the man she loves, who has emigrated to Canada. These three women and their families, their losses and loves, unspool ... against a backdrop of a rapidly changing Oman, a country evolving from a traditional, slave-owning society into its complex present"– provided by publisher.
The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir
Harper, Michele. The Beauty in Breaking: A Memoir. New York, NY: Riverhead Books, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"Michele Harper is a female, African American emergency room physician in a profession that is overwhelmingly male and white. Brought up in Washington, D.C., in a complicated family, she went to Harvard, where she met her husband. They stayed together through medical school until two months before she was scheduled to join the staff of a hospital in central Philadelphia, when he told her he couldn’t move with her. Her marriage at an end, Harper began her new life in a new city, in a new job, as a newly single woman.


In the ensuing years, as Harper learned to become an effective ER physician, bringing insight and empathy to every patient encounter, she came to understand that each of us is broken—physically, emotionally, psychically. How we recognize those breaks, how we try to mend them, and where we go from there are all crucial parts of the healing process.

The Beauty in Breaking is the poignant true story of Harper’s journey toward self-healing. Each of the patients Harper writes about taught her something important about recuperation and recovery. How to let go of fear even when the future is murky: How to tell the truth when it’s simpler to overlook it. How to understand that compassion isn’t the same as justice. As she shines a light on the systemic disenfranchisement of the patients she treats as they struggle to maintain their health and dignity, Harper comes to understand the importance of allowing ourselves to make peace with the past as we draw support from the present. In this hopeful, moving, and beautiful book, she passes along the precious, necessary lessons that she has learned as a daughter, a woman, and a physician." - Publisher description.

These are Love(d) Letters
Hawkins, Ames. These are Love(d) Letters. Made in Michigan writers series. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract

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"Ames Hawkins's These are Love(d) Letters is a genre-bending visual memoir and work of literary nonfiction that explores the questions: What inspires a person to write a love letter? What inspires a person to save a love letter even when the love has shifted or left? And what does it mean when a person uses someone else's love letters as a place from which to create their own sense of self? Beginning with the "simple act" of the author receiving twenty letters written by her father to her mother over a six-week period in 1966, These are Love(d) Letters provides a complex pictorial and textual exploration of the work of the love letter. Through intimate and incisive prose-the letters were, after all, always intended to be a private dialogue between her parents-Hawkins weaves her own struggles with gender, sexuality, and artistic awakening in relation to the story of her parents' marriage that ended in divorce. Her father's HIV diagnosis and death by complications related to AIDS provide the context for an unflinchingly honest look at bodily disease and mortality. Hawkins delicately and relentlessly explores the tensions in a father-daughter relationship that stem from a differently situated connection to queer identity and a shared struggle with artistic desire. In communion with queer and lesbian writers from Emily Dickinson and Virginia Woolf to Alison Bechdel and Maggie Nelson, Hawkins pushes exploration of the self with the same intellectual rigor that she critiques the limits of epistolarity by continually relocating all the generative and arresting creative powers of this found art with scholarly rhetorical strategies. Exquisitely designed by Jessica Jacobs, These are Love(d) Letters presents an affective experience that reinforces Hawkins's meditations on the ephemeral beauty of love letters. As poetic as it is visually enticing, the book offers both an unconventional and queer(ed) understanding of the documentarian form, which will excite both readers and artists across and beyond genres."

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Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women's Fight for their Rights
Kendall, Mikki, A. D'Amico, Shari Chankhamma, and Erica Schultz. Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists: A Graphic History of Women's Fight for their Rights. California: Ten Speed Press, 2019. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A bold and gripping graphic history of the fight for women's rights The ongoing struggle for women's rights has spanned human history, touched nearly every culture on Earth, and encompassed a wide range of issues, such as the right to vote, work, get an education, own property, exercise bodily autonomy, and beyond. Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is a fun and fascinating graphic novel-style primer that covers the key figures and events that have advanced women's rights from antiquity to the modern era. In addition, this compelling book illuminates the stories of notable women throughout history–from queens and freedom fighters to warriors and spies–and the progressive movements led by women that have shaped history, including abolition, suffrage, labor, civil rights, LGBTQ liberation, reproductive rights, and more. Examining where we've been, where we are, and where we're going, Amazons, Abolitionists, and Activists is an indispensable resource for people of all genders interested in the fight for a more liberated future"– provided by publisher.
Everybody Else is Perfect: How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes
Korn, Gabrielle. Everybody Else is Perfect: How I Survived Hypocrisy, Beauty, Clicks, and Likes. First Atria Paperback edition. New York: Atria Paperback, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"From the director of fashion and culture at Refinery29 comes a provocative and intimate collection of personal and cultural essays featuring eye-opening explorations of hot-button topics for modern women, including the uptick in internet feminism versus ongoing impossible beauty standards in media, the battle against anorexia, shifting ideals about sexuality, and much more"-- Provided by publisher.
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Whereabouts: A Novel
Lahiri, Jhumpa. Whereabouts: A Novel. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2021. Book @ Harvard LibraryAbstract
"A marvelous new novel from the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Lowland and Interpreter of Maladies–her first in nearly a decade. Exuberance and dread, attachment and estrangement: in this novel, Jhumpa Lahiri stretches her themes to the limit. The woman at the center wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. The city she calls home, an engaging backdrop to her days, acts as a confidant: the sidewalks around her house, parks, bridges, piazzas, streets, stores, coffee bars. We follow her to the pool she frequents and to the train station that sometimes leads her to her mother, mired in a desperate solitude after her father's untimely death. In addition to colleagues at work, where she never quite feels at ease, she has girl friends, guy friends, and "him," a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. But in the arc of a year, as one season gives way to the next, transformation awaits. One day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun's vital heat, her perspective will change. This is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel she wrote in Italian and translated into English. It brims with the impulse to cross barriers. By grafting herself onto a new literary language, Lahiri has pushed herself to a new level of artistic achievement"– provided by publisher.

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