THE BLANK POINT—what is transsexualism?Study Guide

Laura's Compilation of
Books on Transsexualism

• Bolin, Anne. In Search of Eve: Transsexual Rites of Passage. South Hadley, Mass.: Bergin & Garvey Publishers, Inc., 1985.

A study of sixteen transsexuals in the process of transition. Bolin used participant-observation over a two-year period and found transition to be in stages she likens to the anthropological concept of "rites of passage." Being an anthropologist she brings a fresh perspective to a field of study usually the domain of the psychologist. While done as a doctorial study, she shows an empathy often lacking in many studies.

• Conn, Canary. Canary: The Story of a Transsexual. Los Angeles: Nash Publishing, 1974.

Unlike most of the many autobiographies by transsexuals, this work has the virtue of being by someone who went through the change while in her twenties, when most transsexuals undertake the process.

• Fleming, Michael and Deborah Heller Feinbloom. "Similarities in Becoming: Transsexuals and Adolescents." Adolescence. Vol. 19, No. 75: 729-747, 1984.

Interesting article comparing the upheavals of puberty with the process of transsexual transition. Both events involve social and physical changes which both groups often find just as confusing… Small wonder many transsexuals equate the transition in terms of a second puberty.

• Green, Richard and John Money, editors. Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment. Baltimore: John Hopkins Press, 1969.

The classic in the field. The first real "guide" for the medical establishment. While sadly out of date in areas such as transsexual sexuality, much of the book is still worth reading. It addresses a wide range of topics from medical/surgical to the legal/ethical.

• Kessler, Suzanne J. and Wendy McKenna. Gender: An Ethnomethodological Approach. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1985 (paper)… originally by John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1978 (hardcover).

A study of gender from a social construction viewpoint. It explores gender from several directions including cultural, biological and gender attribution development. The authors feel that "transsexuals offer the richest source of information on gender as a social construction."

• Raymond, Janice. The Transsexual Empire: The Making of a She-Male. Boston: Beacon Press, 1979.

Raymond holds that males, by means of transsexual surgery as a "male" birthing process, are involved in a conspiracy to co-opt women's power of creativity inherent in female biology. Her radical feminist approach regards transsexualism as the result of rigid sex-role stereotypes and the medical establishment. Some valid points seem lost in the rhetoric, and I offer it in this list as the ultimate in transsexual bashing.

• Steiner, Betty W., editor. Gender Dysphoria: Development, Research, Management. New York: Plenum Press, 1985.

A textbook made up of chapters written by staff of the Gender Identity Clinic, Clarke Institute of Psychiatry, Toronto. It covers a wide range of gender issues including an interesting section on gender disorders in childhood and an etiology of transsexualism.

• Stuart, Kim E. The Uninvited Dilemma: A Question of Gender. Lake Oswego, Oregon: Metamorphous Press, 1983.

Probably the most readable book on the subject, it covers transsexualism from childhood through "transition" with general information as well as material gleaned from extensive interviews with a number of transsexuals.

• Walters, William and Michael Ross, editors. Transsexualism and Sex Reassignment. Oxford University Press, 1986.

Compared with the Green and Money work from 1969, this concise book offers a much updated view of treatment, especially from the hormonal/surgical aspect. Written from the Australian experience, it is of less use in its coverage of legal/medical issues.