“Few books are as urgent as Shon Faye’s debut … The analysis is thorough and heartbreaking … it’s a highly fact-based book backed up with statistics and case studies, but she manages to write it in a hugely emotive and powerful way … Faye has hope for the future – and maybe so should we.”


Shon Faye’s The Transgender Issue: An Argument for justice is not a memoir like many books by transgender authors are but instead a book that aims to reclaim to the term ‘transgender issue’ to reveal what it is like being a trans person in a transphobic British society, and delving into the changes that need to happen not just for equality but for trans liberation.

The book is broken up into seven sections that explore the various aspects of life and society including; Trans life in modern Britain (Trans Life Now), healthcare (Right and Wrong Bodies), issues of class (Class Struggle), Sex work (Sex Sells), crime, hate crimes, prisons and the criminal justice system (The State), Trans rights, history and liberation within the LGBTQIA+ community (Kissing Cousins), feminism and transfeminism (The Ugly Cousin).

The narrative in this book includes case studies, stories, and conversations with young trans people and their families which create a connection with the reader, showcasing examples of real lives impacted by transphobia.

Since this is not a memoir, Shon Faye admits that much of what she discusses in her book exists outside of her lived experiences, however, the use of stories, statistics, quotes, etc. allow her to amplify other trans voices who have experienced issues (or worked for charities supporting issues) such as homelessness and domestic violence, laying bare the inarguable facts and evidence in this thoroughly convincing narrative.

While the book does include a lot of information in the form of statistics, facts, and quotes from other writers and researchers to hammer home particular points the author is making, The Transgender Issue does not feel like a heavy read with lots of numbers to read. Shon Faye’s writing is easy to read and follow, and successfully weaves a small amount of prose through the information which adds a level of warmth to the book.

Shon Faye’s revolutionary and powerful début, The Transgender Issue, is not a book that will spark a culture-war but rather one that aims to bring people from minority backgrounds (Black, POC, immigrant, working-class, women, sex workers, etc.) together. Shon Faye highlights societal changes throughout her book that would benefit trans people, women, POC, disabled, LGBT+, and working-class people alike. In doing so, Shon Faye does something that the British media fail to do, unite minority groups to advocate for rights and liberation for all.


Reviewed by:

Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog

Added 4th November 2021

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Catherine Muxworthy