REVIEW | The Remedy: Queer and trans voices on health and health care

Before I share my review of this book with you I have a confession to make.

I have a totally adoring appreciation for the editor of this book, Zena Sharman.

Zena co-authored another anthology before this one, Persistence: all ways butch and femme. This book was where I first discovered what a femme was. Now, as a public femme witch who supports femme witches fighting back against the patriarchy, I have to acknowledge that Zena’s work is part of the origin story of my work and magic. She is a femme powerhouse who carries a graceful, inspirational and collaborative style of leadership that I very much strive to embody in my work.

Ok, now that I’m done gushing about how much I appreciate Zena, let me tell you how I felt about this book.

It will probably come as no surprise to you that I absolutely love this book. I believe it is a necessary and healing collection of writing that all queer and trans folks, and all the health care providers that work with us, should read.

In the midst of reading The Remedy someone in my life discovered they may be facing a new and unforeseen diagnosis. They were sharing about their process on Facebook, expressing worry and concern as they went in for testing and waited for results to come back. I asked for their address and sent them a copy of the book in the mail. I imagine this book will be shared in this same way over and over and serve as a beacon of hope in dark and confusing times.

The Remedy’s breadth is incredibly far reaching.

It includes poetry, personal essays, comic art, short stories, interviews and profiles of successful and inspiring queer and trans health initiatives. It could be read as a text book. It could be used to inform the creation of any kind of health care project that supports queer and trans people.

To me the most impressive aspect of this book is the diversity of life experiences and voices.

This is exactly why I read anthologies, to be exposed to a wide range of perspectives. The book showcases the wisdom of queer community in ways that are both intergenerational and interdisciplinary. And just as the LGBTQ community is wildly diverse, an un-endingly glittering alphabet soup, so does the book introduce you to inspiring human after inspiring human doing work to love and care for all of us.

As each piece closed and another opened I was continually impressed with the complexity of experiences the book explores. A story about a black intersex man is followed by a non-white professional gender specialist. An essay about the need for solidarity with sex workers is followed by an essay by a QPOC therapist. The book touches on suicidality, fertility, cancer, sobriety, decolonization, trauma informed community acupuncture – and all this is just skimming the surface.

Really, what I think the remedy succeeds at doing most is locating the work showcased in the book within the body.

I read most of this book while sitting in a hot bath and after each piece I would stop, take a deep breath and feel the wisdom from the book landing in my body. The book helped me feel safe to breathe deep. The book made me crave more well trained queer and trans health care workers and allies to better serve our community. Each piece reminded me of someone I love. It gave me hope that health care providers now have a resource to help them give competent, compassionate care to queer and trans people. Care that not only respects and honours our bodies, but care that will lift up the humanity of all people interacting with health care providers. Care that could help all of us heal our wounded relationships to our bodies.

In every way I find this book to be a phenomenal success at what it set out to create. I’m so grateful this book exists and I hope you all will go out and read and share it. You won’t regret it.

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