The Anxiety Book for Trans People by Freiya Benson aims to support trans and other non-cis identities in dealing with anxiety. Benson has previously published Trans Love, an anthology of trans and non-binary voices.
The book focuses on experiences of anxiety, and in particular anxiety related to having non-cis identities, rather specifically on anxiety disorders. As such, I think it would be just as suitable for people with “normal” levels of anxiety as for people with anxiety disorders.
Topics covered included trans-specific myths about anxiety, handling social media, coming out, dealing with washrooms and changing rooms, and getting healthcare. There was a chapter on body dysmorphia, and the author shared how self-portrait photography was empowering and helpful in reclaiming her body.
The author talked about surgery, and how she sees it as a way of correcting what went wrong due to testosterone at puberty. I wrote not long ago about a law passed in Arkansas restricting access to puberty blockers, and Benson’s framing of the issue really underscored the importance of gender-affirming care.
The book covers medication and several different forms of therapy as treatment options. The author acknowledges that, for her, dealing with gender-affirming physical issues has had to take priority financially over getting therapy. There are also plenty of D-I-Y ideas for managing anxiety that don’t necessarily cost a thing.
Interspersed throughout the book are guest narratives by other trans and non-binary authors sharing their experiences with anxiety. This provides a good picture of both shared experiences and individual diversity.
While much of the book is focused on challenges, there’s also a chapter devoted to positives, including finding joy, gratitude, and kindness. It’s positive without any toxic positivity, which is always a good thing.
Benson admits she’s not an expert, and this book is based on what she’s learned from personal experience. That’s definitely a strength with this book, as it speaks straight to the intended audience using regular, non-clinical language. At its core, this is a book for trans people, focused on the anxiety that’s almost inevitable while navigating a cis-centric world. I think this was a book that needed to be written.
The Anxiety Book for Trans People is available on Amazon.
I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.
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