HWO’s Radical Books series shares subversive, seminal, and seismic texts that have shaped understandings of radical history, provoked controversy in their time, or sparked social change.
‘I’d been dressing in like, you know, girl’s clothes since it first occurred to me, and I was very young, and as I got older I thought well, you know, if I’m going to have some fun, I’m going to have to be myself, so I’m going to have to be slightly open about it, and like come what may’ – Maeve
This is a moving collection of extracts of oral histories gathered from people living in the city of Brighton and Hove and identifying in various ways as trans. The testimonies provide fresh and diverse perspectives on the everyday – in relation to family, work, socialising, gender, relationships, sex, desire, age (interviewees range from 18 to 81) and much more besides.
In addition, they suggest the particularity of Brighton: many moved there precisely because of their experience of their gender; others found language, support and courage in the city to work out for themselves what that might be. Gender and space are mapped vividly on to each other, not least through the beautiful photographic work by Sharon Kilgannon. The book came out of a Heritage Lottery community history project – the first it funded specifically on trans issues. I read it from cover to cover in one sitting.
Further information and stories from participants can be found on the Brighton Transformed website.
Read more about the other Radical Books in this series here.
Professor Matt Cook is an editor of History Workshop Journal and Professor of Modern History at Birkbeck, University of London. He is a cultural historian specializing in the history of sexuality and the history of London in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
This article was first published as part of a wider piece in Times Higher Education.