A timely second edition of the classic text on transgender history, with a new introduction and updated material throughout Covering American transgender history from the mid-twentieth century to today, Transgender History takes a chronological approach to the subject of transgender history, with each chapter covering major movements, writings, and events. Chapters cover the transsexual and transvestite communities in the years following World War II; trans radicalism and social change, which spanned from 1966 with the publication of The Transsexual Phenomenon, and lasted through the early 1970s; the mid-'70s to 1990-the era of identity politics and the changes witnessed in trans circles through these years; and the gender issues witnessed through the '90s and '00s. Transgender History includes informative sidebars highlighting quotes from major texts and speeches in transgender history and brief biographies of key players, plus excerpts from transgender memoirs and discussion of treatments of transgenderism in popular culture.
Stryker is a good and almost conversational writer. This could not be more accessible. There is some very edifying historical information about trans life and gender pioneers in the 19th and 20th centuries, and the advances since entering the 21st. She also presents a good framework for transgender feminism, something I think most trans feminist writers have not done terribly well. By recontextualizing feminism as not being about a history or oppression she presents a forward looking and more inclusive philosophy. However, as part of this recontextualization Stryker dismisses the concerns of 2nd wave cis-feminists about embracing transwomen as ascientifc and ungrounded, and that is not accurate, The 2nd wave POV was that transwomen grew up being identified and treated as male and therefore cannot connect to the pain which springs from the limitations visited on women by society at large. Certainly there are plenty of cis-male feminists, a penis and empathy for victims of inequity are not mutually exclusive. However, the no trans argument is not about feminism per se, but about creating safe spaces that are women-only to share in the impact of having lived in a world that limits women and which considers women only in the ways they are valued by men. Transwomen do not have the same lived experience as females assigned at birth. I don't feel the need to attend gynocentric gatherings (I went to the Michigan Womyn's festival once and found it ridiculous and cultish and also really boring) but that is me. Stryker dismisses this position entirely, advancing as a matter of fact that there is no distinction between transwomen and people assigned female at birth. I am just saying that is an opinion, not a scientific or legal fact. Stryker does this repeatedly, advances as fact things that are unproven, unprovable, or undecided, but Stryker also imparts great information about the history of trans and nonconforming people and about the current legal and policy issues to be addressed. She also makes good arguments for a road forward, I just wish she had advanced that material as opinion. An absolutely worthwhile and broadening read despite its spin!