Changing Sex takes a bold new approach to the study of transsexualism in the twentieth century. By addressing the significance of medical technology to the phenomenon of transsexualism, Bernice L. Hausman transforms current conceptions of transsexuality as a disorder of gender identity by showing how developments in medical knowledge and technology make possible the emergence of new subjectivities. Hausman’s inquiry into the development of endocrinology and plastic surgery shows how advances in medical knowledge were central to the establishment of the material and discursive conditions necessary to produce the demand for sex change—that is, to both "make" and "think" the transsexual. She also retraces the hidden history of the concept of gender, demonstrating that the semantic distinction between "natural" sex and "social" gender has its roots in the development of medical treatment practices for intersexuality—the condition of having physical characteristics of both sexes— in the 1950s. Her research reveals the medical institution’s desire to make heterosexual subjects out of intersexuals and indicates how gender operates semiotically to maintain heterosexuality as the norm of the human body. In critically examining medical discourses, popularizations of medical theories, and transsexual autobiographies, Hausman details the elaboration of "gender narratives" that not only support the emergence of transsexualism, but also regulate the lives of all contemporary Western subjects. Changing Sex will change the ways we think about the relation between sex and gender, the body and sexual identity, and medical technology and the idea of the human.
A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of the Year
“I visited womanhood and stayed. It was not for the pleasures, though I discovered many I had not imagined, and many pains too. But calculating pleasures and pains was not the point. The point was who I am.”
Once a golden boy of conservative economics and a child of 1950s privilege, Deirdre McCloskey (formerly Donald) had wanted to change genders from the age of eleven. But it was a different time, one hostile to any sort of straying from the path—against gays, socialists, women with professions, men without hats, and so on—and certainly against gender transition. Finally, in 1995, at the age of fifty-three, it was time for McCloskey to cross the gender line.
Crossing is the story of McCloskey’s dramatic and poignant transformation from Donald to Dee to Deirdre. She chronicles the physical procedures and emotional evolution required and the legal and cultural roadblocks she faced in her journey to womanhood. By turns searing and humorous, this is the unflinching, unforgettable story of her transformation—what she lost, what she gained, and the women who lifted her up along the way.
Kessler and McKenna convincingly argue that gender is not a reflection of biological reality but rather a social construct that varies across cultures. Valuable for its insights into gender, its extensive treatment of transsexualism, and its ethnomethodological approach, Gender reviews and critiques data from biology, anthropology, sociology, and psychology.
Developed in the United States in the 1980s, facial feminization surgery (FFS) is a set of bone and soft tissue reconstructive surgical procedures intended to feminize the faces of trans- women. While facial surgery was once considered auxiliary to genital surgery, many people now find that these procedures confer distinct benefits according to the different models of sex and gender in which they intervene. Surgeons advertise that FFS not only improves a trans- woman's appearance; it allows her to be recognized as a woman by those who see her. In The Look of a Woman Eric Plemons foregrounds the narratives of FFS patients and their surgeons as they move from consultation and the operating room to postsurgery recovery. He shows how the increasing popularity of FFS represents a shift away from genital-based conceptions of trans- selfhood in ways that mirror the evolving views of what is considered to be good trans- medicine. Outlining how conflicting models of trans- therapeutics play out in practice, Plemons demonstrates how FFS is changing the project of surgical sex reassignment by reconfiguring the kind of sex that surgery aims to change.
The first famous transgender person in the United States, Christine Jorgensen, traveled to Denmark for gender reassignment surgery in 1952. Jorgensen became famous during the ascent of postwar dreams about the possibilities for technology to transform humanity and the world. In Mobile Subjects Aren Z. Aizura examines transgender narratives within global health and tourism economies from 1952 to the present. Drawing on an archive of trans memoirs and documentaries as well as ethnographic fieldwork with trans people obtaining gender reassignment surgery in Thailand, Aizura maps the uneven use of medical protocols to show how national and regional health care systems and labor economies contribute to and limit transnational mobility. Aizura positions transgender travel as a form of biomedical tourism, examining how understandings of race, gender, and aesthetics shape global cosmetic surgery cultures and how economic and racially stratified marketing and care work create the ideal transgender subject as an implicitly white, global citizen. In so doing, he shows how understandings of travel and mobility depend on the historical architectures of colonialism and contemporary patterns of global consumption and labor.
Since the mid-1980s, the Islamic Republic of Iran has permitted, and partially subsidized, sex reassignment surgery. In Professing Selves, Afsaneh Najmabadi explores the meaning of transsexuality in contemporary Iran. Combining historical and ethnographic research, she describes how, in the postrevolutionary era, the domains of law, psychology and psychiatry, Islamic jurisprudence, and biomedicine became invested in distinguishing between the acceptable "true" transsexual and other categories of identification, notably the "true" homosexual, an unacceptable category of existence in Iran. Najmabadi argues that this collaboration among medical authorities, specialized clerics, and state officials—which made transsexuality a legally tolerated, if not exactly celebrated, category of being—grew out of Iran's particular experience of Islamicized modernity. Paradoxically, state regulation has produced new spaces for non-normative living in Iran, since determining who is genuinely "trans" depends largely on the stories that people choose to tell, on the selves that they profess.
Gordene Olga Mackenzie University of Wisconsin Press, 1994 Library of Congress HQ77.M34 1994 | Dewey Decimal 305.3
In the United States we are bombarded with gender propaganda that supports a repressive dual gender system pitting the genders against each other. Transgenderists as gender nonconformists challenge us to rethink traditional discourses on sex and gender. Transgender Nation investigates the male-to-woman transgenderist and transsexual from a sociocultural and sociopolitical perspective maintaining that it is not the individual transgenderist who is sick and in need of treatment but rather the culture that must be treated.