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We Believe You: A Feminist Book List on Sexual Violence, Consent, and Masculinity


Combined photo of the covers of I still Believe Anita Hill, Ask: Building Consent Culture, and Heavy by Kiese Laymon.

Dear Beloved Community,

We see you. We see you putting in the energy to make yourself a good breakfast even though you feel nauseated. We see you smiling politely when a man on the street points at the newspaper headline and asks "can you believe this circus?" You smile because you are not sure which side of the circus he is on and you don't want to deal with his anger. We see you helping your children avoid the news and/or taking the time to explain what's happening: explain why a woman is on television in front of a panel of men calmly recounting the worst night of her life, explain why a man who was not hurt, who cannot even be bothered to remember, is so angry, so defensive. We see you calling your friends, your sister, your mother, your therapist. We see you struggling with the men in your life who just can't seem to say all the words that need to be said right now. We see you wanting to stay in bed and going to work anyway. We see you calling in sick to take care of your heart. We see you thinking about how to be a different kind of man than the men in that hearing, than the boys at those parties. We see you thinking about where you have done harm, remembering all the way back, to the very first memories. Most of all, we see in so many of your eyes the ghosts of stories that you carry with you, the ghosts of the stories you have survived whether you have ever given them voice or not.

Charis continues to be your feminist bookstore and community space for hard times like these. We believe that speaking truth to power is the only thing that has ever changed the world, and we know that speaking truth to power can absolutely destroy you without support. It is a testament to the work and power of Christine Blasey-Ford and Anita Hill before her that their testimonies cracked open space in the cultural conversation for all of us to feel alongside them and to be transformed. It is a testament to our collective power and the work of intersectional feminist movements that the way we have conversations about rape and assault and masculinity and whiteness and wealth are changing moment to moment, even as the deeply entrenched white, male, power structure does all it can to reinforce its supremacy. History is cyclical, but it does progress. We are changed and we are change-agents. 

This booklist is a starting place for all of you who are struggling to find a safe-er place to land this week, who are moving through the world with ghosts in your heart, your throat, your eyes. There are a million ways to talk about the hurt this week has brought up. We think any entry point that works for you is a good one and this is just a tiny handful of the books we carry in our store. Some of the books on this list are geared towards personal healing for survivors of sexual assault, some are histories and studies about rape culture and U.S. sexual violence, some are books designed to help children understand consent and positive boundaries, some are books written by cisgender or transgender men, gay and straight, talking about the ways in which patriarchal culture has harmed them and caused them to harm others. These books are meant to help you keep the conversation going in your own head, in your home, with your family, in schools, faith communities, and in your workplace. The only way we transform the systems that enable a person like Brett Kavanaugh to make it all the way to the Supreme Court is by starting in our communities, and by making the "boys will be boys" rape culture values he espouses so naturally, totally obsolete.  

If you need a quiet place to be, or a place to cry, to rage, to talk, to think, the physical space of Charis is here for you and the full slate of Charis Circle events and programs are here as well.

We love you. We need you. We believe you. Keep loving, keep fighting.


I Still Believe Anita Hill: Three Generations Discuss the Legacy of Speaking the Truth to Power Cover Image
By Amy Richards (Editor), Cynthia Greenberg (Editor)
ISBN: 9781558618091
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Published: Feminist Press - December 11th, 2012

In the fall of 1991, Anita Hill captured the country's attention when she testified before the US Senate Judiciary Committee describing sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas, who had been her boss and was about to ascend to the Supreme Court. We know what happened: she was challenged, disbelieved, and humiliated; he was given a life-long appointment to decide America's judicial fate.

Race-ing Justice, En-gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679741459
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Published: Pantheon - October 6th, 1992

It was perhaps the most wretchedly aspersive race and gender scandal of recent times: the dramatic testimony of Anita Hill at the Senate hearings on the confirmation of Clarence Thomas as Supreme Court Justice. Yet even as the televised proceedings shocked and galvanized viewers not only in this country but the world over, they cast a long shadow on essential issues that define America.

Speaking Truth to Power Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780385476270
Published: Anchor - October 20th, 1998

Twenty-six years before the #metoo movement, Anita Hill sparked a national conversation about sexual harassment in the workplace.

Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062413512
Published: Harper Perennial - May 1st, 2018

New York Times Bestseller

Edited and with an introduction by Roxane Gay, the New York Times bestselling and deeply beloved author of Bad Feminist and Hunger, this anthology of first-person essays from writers including Gabrielle Union, Brandon Taylor, and Lyz Lenz tackles rape, assault, and harassment head-on.

Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781580052573
Published: Seal Press - December 2nd, 2008

In this groundbreaking new look at rape edited by writer and activist Jaclyn Freidman and Full Frontal Feminism and He's A Stud, She's A Slut author Jessica Valenti, the way we view rape in our culture is finally dismantled and replaced with a genuine understanding and respect for female sexual pleasure.

Asking for It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture--and What We Can Do about It Cover Image
ISBN: 9780738217024
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Published: Da Capo Lifelong Books - August 25th, 2015

In the era of #metoo, a clear-eyed, sharp look at rape culture, sexual assault, harassment and violence against women--and what we can do about it.

"A timely and brilliant book." (Jessica Valenti)

I Never Told Anyone: Writings by Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780060965730
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - April 10th, 1991

A reissue of the now-classic anthology (with more than 60,000 copies sold) of deeply moving testimonies by survivors of child sexual abuse--with a new afterword by Ellen Bass, co-author of The Courage to Heal.

I Never Called It Rape - Updated Edition: The Ms. Report on Recognizing, Fighting, and Surviving Date and Acquaintance Rape Cover Image
By Robin Warshaw, Gloria Steinem (Foreword by), Salamishah Tillet (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780062844309
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Published: Harper Perennial - February 26th, 2019

Featuring a new preface by feminist icon Gloria Steinem, and a new foreword by Salamishah Tillet, PhD, Rutgers University Professor of African American Studies and Creative Writing

Dear Sister: Letters from Survivors of Sexual Violence Cover Image
By Lisa Factora-Borchers (Editor), Aishah Shahidah Simmons (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781849351720
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Published: AK Press - February 25th, 2014

Dear Sister,

It wasn't your fault; it was never your fault. You did nothing wrong. Hold this tight to your heart: it wasn't your fault.

At night when you lay there and your mind fills with images and you wonder if only, if you had . . . if you hadn't . . . . Remember: it wasn't your fault.

Ask: Building Consent Culture Cover Image
By Kitty Stryker, Carol Queen (Afterword by), Laurie Penny (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781944934255
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Published: Thorntree Press - October 27th, 2017

Have you ever heard the phrase “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than permission?” Violating consent isn’t limited to sexual relationships, and our discussions around consent shouldn’t be, either. To resist rape culture, we need a consent culture—and one that is more than just reactionary.

Learning Good Consent: On Healthy Relationships and Survivor Support Cover Image
By Cindy Crabb (Editor)
ISBN: 9781849352468
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Published: AK Press - June 28th, 2016

Cindy Crabb provides a DIY tour of the promise and perils of sexual relationships in Learning Good Consent. Building ethical relationships is one of the most important things we can do, but sex, consent, abuse, and support can get complicated. This collection is an indispensable guide to both preventing sexual violence and helping its survivors to heal.

Support: Feminist Relationship Tools to Heal Yourself and End Rape Culture Cover Image
ISBN: 9781621069669
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Published: Microcosm Publishing - November 28th, 2017

Support encourages everyone to take a step back, listen, think, and talk about sex, consent, violence, and abuse. If you or someone you know have ever been assaulted or victimized, how to be an ally can be confusing. These words and the connection they offer can help.

Consent on Campus: A Manifesto Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780190671150
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - September 4th, 2018

A 2015 survey of twenty-seven elite colleges found that twenty-three percent of respondents reported personal experiences of sexual misconduct on their campuses. That figure has not changed since the 1980s, when people first began collecting data on sexual violence. What has changed is the

Blurred Lines: Rethinking Sex, Power, and Consent on Campus Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328511935
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Published: Mariner Books - October 2nd, 2018

A new sexual revolution is sweeping the country, and college students are on the front lines. Few places in America have felt the influence of #MeToo more intensely. Indeed, college campuses were in many ways the harbingers of #MeToo. Grigoriadis captures the nature of this cultural reckoning without shying away from its complexity.

We Believe You: Survivors of Campus Sexual Assault Speak Out Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781627795333
Published: Holt Paperbacks - April 12th, 2016

"Me too. It happened to me too."

What We Talk about When We Talk about Rape Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620974742
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Published: New Press - November 27th, 2018

What We Talk About When We Talk About Rape is brilliant, frank, empowering, and urgently necessary. Sohaila Abdulali has created a powerful tool for examining rape culture and language on the individual, societal, and global level that everyone can benefit from reading.
--Jill Soloway

Written on the Body: Letters from Trans and Non-Binary Survivors of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Cover Image
By Lexie Bean (Editor), Dean Spade (Contribution by), Nyala Moon (Contribution by)
ISBN: 9781785927973
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Published: Jessica Kingsley Publishers - March 21st, 2018

Lambda Literary Award Finalist - LGBTQ Anthology

Written by and for trans and non-binary survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, Written on the Body offers support, guidance and hope for those who struggle to find safety at home, in the body, and other unwelcoming places.

In a Day's Work: The Fight to End Sexual Violence Against America's Most Vulnerable Workers Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620973158
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Published: New Press - March 20th, 2018

2019 Pulitzer Prize Finalist in General Nonfiction

The Courage to Heal: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse, Featuring
By Ellen Bass, Laura Davis (Joint Author)
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ISBN: 9780060950668
Published: Harper Perennial - January 1st, 1994

"The Courage to Heal" is an inspiring, comprehensive guide that offers hope and encouragement to every woman who, was sexually abused as a child -- and those who care about her. Although the effects of child sexual abuse are long-term and severe, healing "is" possible.

The Courage to Heal Workbook: A Guide for Women Survivors of Child Sexual Abuse Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060964375
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Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - February 28th, 1990

In this groundbreaking companion to The Courage to Heal, Laura Davis offers an inspiring, in-depth workbook that speaks to all women and men healing from the effects of child sexual abuse. The combination of checklists, writing and art Projects, open-ended questions and activities expertly guides the survivor through the healing process.

The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities Cover Image
ISBN: 9781849352628
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Published: AK Press - August 30th, 2016

The Revolution Starts at Home is as urgently needed today as when it was first published. This watershed collection breaks the dangerous silence surrounding the "secret" of intimate violence within social justice circles. Just as importantly, it provides practical strategies for dealing with abuse and creating safety without relying on the coercive power of the state.

C is for Consent Cover Image
By Eleanor Morrison, Faye Orlove (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780999890806
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Published: Phonics with Finn - May 1st, 2018

What Does Consent Really Mean? Cover Image
ISBN: 9781848193307
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Published: Singing Dragon - November 21st, 2017

Consent is not the absence of 'NO', it is an enthusiastic YES

While seemingly straightforward, Tia and Bryony hadn't considered this subject too seriously until it comes up in conversation with their friends and they realise just how important it is.

Tell Me about Sex, Grandma (Ordinary Terrible Things) Cover Image
By Anastasia Higginbotham (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9781558614192
Published: Feminist Press - April 11th, 2017

Patiently forthcoming with lessons your parents redacted, this necessary conversation stresses consent, sex positivity, and the right to be curious about your body. The dialogue focuses on the dynamics of sex, rather than the mechanics, as Grandma reminds readers that sex is not marriage or reproduction, and doesn't look the same for everyone.

Let's Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect: Teach children about body ownership, respect, feelings, choices and recognizing bullying behavi Cover Image
By Sarah Jennings (Illustrator), Jayneen Sanders
ISBN: 9781925089189
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Published: Educate2empower Publishing - November 10th, 2017

Teaching young children about body boundaries, both theirs and others, is crucial to a child's growing sense of self, their confidence and how they should expect to be treated by others. A child growing up knowing they have a right to their own personal space, gives that child ownership and choices as to what happens to them and to their body.

No Means No!: Teaching personal boundaries, consent; empowering children by respecting their choices and right to say 'no!' Cover Image
By Jayneen Sanders, Cherie Zamazing (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781925089226
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Published: Upload Publishing Pty Ltd - March 28th, 2015

'No Means No ' is a children's picture book about an empowered little girl who has a very strong and clear voice in all issues, especially those relating to her body and personal boundaries. This book can be read to children from 3 to 9 years. It is a springboard for discussions regarding children's choices and their rights.

Man Up: Reimagining Modern Manhood Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781592408078
Published: Avery - November 5th, 2013

Inspired by the award-winning poet and actor’s acclaimed one-man play, a powerful coming-of-age memoir that reimagines masculinity for the twenty-first-century male.

The Will to Change: Men, Masculinity, and Love Cover Image
ISBN: 9780743456081
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Published: Washington Square Press - December 21st, 2004

Everyone needs to love and be loved—even men.

Men's Work: How to Stop the Violence That Tears Our Lives Apart Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345471857
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Published: Ballantine Books - March 1st, 1995

In a world that thrives on aggression and physical force, male violence has become an all-too-frequent response to the frustrations and anxieties that fill men's lives. As a result, the lives of women and children have suffered dramatically, as society has come to tolerate their victimization.

Some Men: Feminist Allies and the Movement to End Violence Against Women (Oxford Studies in Culture and Politics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780199338771
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Published: Oxford University Press, USA - March 2nd, 2015

What does it mean for men to join with women as allies in preventing sexual assault and domestic violence? Based on life history interviews with men and women anti-violence activists aged 22 to 70, Some Men explores the strains and tensions of men's work as feminist allies. When feminist women

Conflict Is Not Abuse: Overstating Harm, Community Responsibility, and the Duty of Repair Cover Image
ISBN: 9781551526430
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Published: Arsenal Pulp Press - October 4th, 2016

From intimate relationships to global politics, Sarah Schulman observes a continuum: that inflated accusations of harm are used to avoid accountability. Illuminating the difference between Conflict and Abuse, Schulman directly addresses our contemporary culture of scapegoating.

The Macho Paradox: Why Some Men Hurt Women and How All Men Can Help Cover Image
ISBN: 9781402204012
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Published: Sourcebooks - April 1st, 2006

Praise for The Macho Paradox
"An honest, intellectually rigorous and insightful work that challenges readers to truly engage in a political discourse that can change lives, communities and nations."
--Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes

The Mask of Masculinity: How Men Can Embrace Vulnerability, Create Strong Relationships, and Live Their Fullest Lives Cover Image
ISBN: 9781623368623
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Published: Rodale Books - October 31st, 2017

Standing between you and the man you CAN be is one thing: The Mask of Masculinity. 

Black Mask-ulinity; A Framework for Black Masculine Caring (Black Studies and Critical Thinking #72) Cover Image
By Lisa Bass (Editor)
ISBN: 9781433126543
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Published: Peter Lang Us - June 5th, 2016

Black Mask-ulinity: A Framework for Black Masculine Caring is a collection of research, narratives, essays, and conceptual works to lay the foundation for an important emerging theoretical framework: Black Masculine Caring (BMC).

Dissolving Toxic Masculinity Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780982156865
Published: Personal Power Press - May 15th, 2018

Our society is riddled with men behaving badly. Sexual harassment, sexual abuse, domestic violence, and misogyny run rampant through politics, Hollywood, professional and amateur sports, college campuses, and our daily work environment. The societal standards dictating that men be strong, unemotional, aggressive, and dominant over women have created toxic masculinity.

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781580056229
Published: Seal Press - March 8th, 2016

In this updated second edition, biologist and trans woman Julia Serano reveals a unique perspective on femininity, masculinity, and gender identity.

Amateur: A True Story About What Makes a Man Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781501168741
Published: Scribner - August 14th, 2018

*Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Nonfiction
*Shortlisted for the Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Memoir/Biography
*Shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize

One of The Times UK’s Best Memoirs of 2018, BuzzFeed’s Best Nonfiction of 2018, Autostraddle’s Best LGBT Books of 2018, Book Riot’s Best Queer Books of 201

Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man (City Lights/Sister Spit) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780872866249
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Published: City Lights Books - September 9th, 2014

Winner - Best Transgender Nonfiction - 2015 Lambda Literary Awards

Best Books of 2014 - Publishers Weekly

Best Books of 2014 - NPR Books

Best Nonficton Books of 2014 - Kirkus Reviews

10 Best Transgender Non-Fiction Books - Advocate

Real Man Adventures Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781938073755
Published: McSweeney's - November 26th, 2013

T Cooper's Real Man Adventures is not a memoir. It's an adventure story--and one packed with all the requisite dark alleys, disguises, leading ladies, and plot twists.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones Cover Image
ISBN: 9780544570115
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Published: Mariner Books - September 1st, 2015

New York Times Notable Book | Lambda Literary Award Winner | Long-listed for the PEN Open Book Award

“Charles Blow is the James Baldwin of our age.” — Washington Blade

“[An] exquisite memoir . . .

Heavy: An American Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501125652
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Published: Scribner - October 16th, 2018

*Named a Best Book of 2018 by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Buzzfeed (Nonfiction), The Undefeated, Library Journal (Biography/Memoirs), The Washington Post (Nonfiction), Southern Living (Southern), Entertainment Weekly, and The New York Times Critics*

*WINNER of the Andrew Carnegie Medal and FINALIST

How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781932841770
Published: Agate Bolden - August 13th, 2013

Author and essayist Kiese Laymon is one of the most unique, stirring, and powerful new voices in American writing. How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America is a collection of his essays, touching on subjects ranging from family, race, violence, and celebrity to music, writing, and coming of age in Mississippi.

No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black and Free in America Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781568589480
Published: Bold Type Books - May 29th, 2018

From a leading journalist and activist comes a brave, beautifully wrought memoir.

Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform Cover Image
ISBN: 9781849350884
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Published: AK Press - January 31st, 2012

Gay culture has become a nightmare of consumerism, whether it's an endless quest for Absolut vodka, Diesel jeans, rainbow Hummers, pec implants, or Pottery Barn. Whatever happened to sexual flamboyance and gender liberation, an end to marriage, the military, and the nuclear family?

I'm Afraid of Men Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735235939
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Published: Penguin Canada - August 28th, 2018

Named a Best Book by: The Globe and Mail, Indigo, Out Magazine, Audible, CBC, Apple, Quill & Quire, Kirkus Reviews, Brooklyn Public Library, Writers’ Trust of Canada, Autostraddle, Bitch, and BookRiot.

Finalist for the 2019 Lambda Literary Award, Transgender Nonfiction
Nominated for the 2019 Forest of Reading Evergreen Award