Black on Both Sides

A look at the intersection of Black and trans studies

Black on both sides : a racial history of trans identity

Snorton, C. Riley. Minnesota, 2017
259p index, 9781517901721 $100.00, 9781517901738 $24.95, 9781452955865

Snorton (Africana studies and feminist, gender, and sexuality studies, Cornell) makes an essential contribution to gender studies and black studies. He draws from multiple epistemologies to help readers reconsider “trans” as both a term and an identity. The text is “an attempt to find a vocabulary for black and trans life … it works to do more than provide a ‘shadow history’ or blackness in trans studies or transness in black studies.” Snorton seeks vocabularies for black and trans life through the science of sexuality, through explorations of transatlantic literature, and through the afterlife of Phillip DeVine. The author shares in the acknowledgments that he wrote this book “for those of you who have made new names and found new modes of naming.” That acknowledgment is the foundation of what his book accomplishes: to create new names and new modes of engaging with the past, and to wrestle with modes of categorization in literatures and archives, and with the collective amnesia that allows mainstream memory to forget Phillip DeVine as it memorializes Brandon Teena. This book is an outstanding contribution to conversations about black and trans studies; it will transform scholarly understandings of both fields and the intersections between them.

Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates and above; professionals.
Reviewer: C. Pinto, Mount Holyoke College
Subject: Social & Behavioral Sciences – Sociology
Choice Issue: Jun 2018