First, this is one of the few volumes I've read where the situation of transgenderists/transsexuals in Canada is explored with a certain depth. The third part of the book (Research) is invaluable.
Thanks to Dr. Namaste, we have an overview of the situation of TG/TS people with respect to:
Violence: Chapter 6, Genderbashing, focuses on the situation of TG sex-workers in Montréal and how they're related to the gay communities by the police -basically, how they are erased from view in statistics and studies;
Access to government programs in Canada: Chapter 7, Access Denied, deals with the policies of the GIC of the Clark Institute of Psychiatry in Toronto -how in the screening process and help system the input of the TS hirself is ignored (only three GIC clinics in Canada can recommend a person for government-sponsored SRS: in Toronto, Montréal and Vancouver);
Treatment of TS/TG people in these clinics: Chapter 8, Clinical Research or Community Health? -this chapter mainly delves into the way GICs are seen by the people receiving or who have received services at them at some point, in this sense it is a first;
The bureaucracy trap and how it influences care: Chapter 9, The Administration of Erasure -again centred on HIV/AIDS as a problem among TG sex workers in Québec, although the difficulties in dealing with the system are also explored.
Overall, this book is a must for any serious researcher and transsexuals/transgenderists living in Canada. The theories in the book itself (after all, Dr. Namaste is a semiotist with training in sociology) come across as rather vague and not well-founded on the research presented, in my opinion. Even so, it is a good starting point for future research.
A note: I found quite upsetting the statistics of "gaybashing" as directed to TG people. It seems that people attack others not on the basis of their sexual preferences as much as they do for their perceived gender identity. I.e., a gay male who acts masculine is less likely to be attacked than a male-to-female transgenderists who is attracted to women. That you give the "wrong" public image is what irks bigots the most. And even worse in the case of TG/TS visible minorities enaged in the sex trade:
"At one meeting I attended, residents discussed various strategies that could be employed to evict sex workers from the area. One man stood up and spoke about his plan to take a baseball bat and assault two Haitian transgendered prostitutes, known to work on the corner of Ontario and Panet Streets. Like many perpetrators of queer-bashing who target black gay men as easy victims, this attacker viewed black transgendered women as those least likely to retaliate and most worthy of assault. Notwithstanding the fact that such violence occurs within the gay village, it cannot be explained as an instance of homophobia. Rather, this proposed assault emphasizes the importance of accounting for gender, race, class, and public space in an analysis of violence." [Invisible lives, p. 154.]
Dr. Namaste had also found that gay males "of colour" are more likely to be attacked within the "gay villages" (20% vs. 9% for Caucasians). Since TG/TS males are perceived as "gay" so far they don't pass, for TG visible minorities it's like having three strikes against: colored, gay and transgendered.
People belonging to minority ethnic groups are also much less likely to go to the police -the worst horror stories of police abuse in this book are told by visible minorities, in one case a Native TS woman who was not a prostitute: "People like you should be killed at birth." [p. 169.] If after being the object of attack by a group of bigots, you are going to be attacked by the police, then what's the point of calling them?
This is one of the very few books that at least explores in part what it means to be TG and coloured in a sexist/racist society like Canada.