Transgender History (Seal Studies)

by Susan Stryker

Paperback, 2008




Seal Press (2008), Edition: First Printing, 208 pages


"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"-- "A timely second edition of the classic text on transgender history, with a new introduction and updated material throughout"--… (more)


(70 ratings; 4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member Gwendydd
This is an interesting history of transgender rights. I think the most useful information I got out of it was an understanding of the relationships between various groups of people and various rights movements: how drag, gay, and feminist communities interact with the trans community. There are a
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lot of complex issues involved, and this book gave me a good understanding of why various groups do and do not support trans rights.
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LibraryThing member bness2
Well written and fascinating. I learned some things about the history of transgenderism that I had never heard before. Notably, cooperation among gay and lesbian advocates and transgendered individuals, until very recently was poor. Feminists also have been deeply split in their support for the
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transgender community, some adamantly support the belief that transgenderism is merely a social/moral issue and should not be tolerated.
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LibraryThing member b.masonjudy
Transgender History is a lucid and compelling account of the history of Transgender activism in the US. I hadn't realized the depth and breadth of the struggle until reading Stryker's book. I can't imagine a more important book to be reading in such a time as this in the United States.
LibraryThing member whatsmacksaid
Not totally what I was expecting, but still good and very informative.
LibraryThing member Narshkite
I really enjoyed this read, and learned a good deal. That said, if you are looking for objective historical reporting this is not the volume for you. There is nothing dry about this, but there is also a clear editorial slant, so if that is an issue be warned.

Stryker is a good and almost
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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!
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LibraryThing member greeniezona
This book gave me A People's History vibes, in that it portrays, over and over, how the work of progress is done NOT primarily by the men on our TV screens, in elected office, behind pulpits or podiums, but by ordinary people, banding together in ways that are somehow haphazard, inventing
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communities and services and safety nets BECAUSE THEY NEED TO, and because no one else will/has.

A few of these stories I had at least some familiarity with, but so much of this has been ignored/suppressed/distorted that this is clearly a rescue operation for endangered stories.

A remarkable work.
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LibraryThing member caedocyon
Much better than I expected! Not terribly detailed, but does a really good job of putting people and organizations like Harry Benjamin, Sharon Stone, and ACT UP in context for their times. I also appreciated the bit at the end where the origins of queer theory are outlined, although the terminology
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started to go a little over my head. (I'm embarrassed to admit I used to get Sharon Stone and Susan Stryker confused before reading this book... they have the same initials, dammit. Now I won't, though, because one of the last gray-boxed "asides" is an interesting snippet of Stryker's interview of Stone.)

"Transgender history" might be a misnomer: it's unapologetically focused on the U.S. history of transgender activism in the last century. But considering that that's where the Western word/concept of transgender mostly arose and developed, the choice makes more sense than trying to sweep what the West perceives as gender variance in non-Western cultures under the umbrella, and trying to extend the term backwards in time to people who didn't live in the same world we do.
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Lambda Literary Award (Nominee — 2009)


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

208 p.; 8.25 inches


158005224X / 9781580052245
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