George and Transgender Resources

Transgender Pride Flag made of five stripes, light blue on top, light pink, white in the center, light pink, and light blue on the bottom.

On January 11, 2016 the American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, and Transgender Round Table awarded Alex Gino’s George the Mike Morgan & Larry Romans Children’s and Young Adult Literature Award. George is a middle-grade novelthink YA’s younger siblingwritten for readers in third through seventh grades. Without giving too much away, George tells the story of a fourth-grader named Melissa who wants the world to see her as she sees herself, namely as a girl. But the world sees her as George. She hopes if she can play Charlotte in her school’s production of Charlotte’s Web her classmates and mom will understand. This proves to be more difficult than Melissa thought when her teacher denies her the role. Melissa and her best friend, Kelly, team up to make the most of the situation in a novel that is by turns funny, touching, and honest. After the award was announced author Alex Gino tweeted: “AND I just got an email from an 11-year old trans kid who found GEORGE and Melissa and wanted to thank me. That's where it's *really* at.”

Since its publication last summer, George has been the subject of critical accolades, lauded by School Library Journal as “a required purchase for any collection that serves a middle grade population.” Awarding George the Stonewall is a recognition that transgender materials and resources seldom see. Recently scholars and institutions have been working to make transgender materials and resources more easily available. On January 15, 2016 the Digital Transgender Archive uploaded its first collection, a complete run of the journal Transgender Tapestry. The Digital Transgender Archive began after creators K.J. Rawson and Nick Matte “realized that their own challenges researching transgender history were representative of systematic challenges that all researchers would face.”

The Transgender Resources LibGuide at IU brings often difficult to find materials for transgender individuals into a single resource. Divided into sections for Health Services, Counseling and Mental Health, Legal Services, Academic Resources, Student and Community Organizations, Spirituality and Shared Beliefs, Leisure, and National and Online Organizations, the LibGuide links to resources like databases, full text journals, and PDFs of information complied by community members. Resources can be specific to IU, like the Academic Resources tab, with links to databases such as Gender Studies Database and Defining Gender, 1450-1910 that provide access to scholarly articles covering transgender topics. The resources also extend to the Bloomington community, featuring a list of Trans-Friendly Health Resources created by the Gender Warriors student group. The LibGuide also provides a listing of national organizations and conferences. Resources cover topics from “I think I may be transgender,” to hormones and queer theory, among others. Each page of the LibGuide also displays recommended books and DVDs available from the collection of the GLBT Library, located on 7th Street across from Dunn Meadow. The LibGuide focuses on materials for transgender identifying individuals—there is also a section for non-transgender identifying people who want to support transgender individuals, called “Tips and Resources for Allies”.

N.b.: The glossary at the Digital Transgender Archive defines transgender as "An identity term, [describing] individuals whose gender identities and/or expressions do not align with the sociocultural expectations of their birth-assigned gender." Use of the word "transgender" within this post is by no means exclusive to one particular identity and aims to include a number of identities such as trans woman, trans man, agender, genderqueer, non-binary, transmasculine, transfeminine, and bi-gender among others—this list is not exhaustive. The glossary and global terms pages at the Digital Transgender Archive provide definitions and culturally-specfic identity terms to use when searching for materials.


by Thom Sullivan