Sex changes: the politics of transgenderism

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Cleis Press, 1997 - Psychology - 309 pages
9 Reviews
Ground-breaking work on gender transgression by one of the most provocative lesbian authors in the U.S.
-- Transgenderism is a hot subject, with books by Kate Bornstein, Leslie Feinberg, and others garnering national attention

This work springs from my own profound discomfort with gender. As a small child, I put Ken in Barbie's formal, tied him up, and stuck him back in the box. He had been kidnapped, I decided. Barbie got to wear Ken's suit and had a series of mad adventures trying to rescue Ken with her sidekick, a troll doll with bright green hair".

So begins Pat Califia's honest, meticulously researched analysis of the contemporary history of transsexuality. Based on in-depth interviews with gender transgressors who "opened their lives, minds, hearts, and bedroom to the gaze of strangers", this book combines a well-thought-out chronology with Pat Califia's hallmark candor and insight. "My lesbianism is largely a product of my profound emotional and erotic involvement with other women. But it was also a strategy for reducing gender dysphoria, part of a search for a place where I could be more of a man, or at least a different sort of woman".

Writing about both male-to-female and female-to-male transsexuals, Califia examines the lives of early transgender pioneers like Christine Jorgenson, Jan Morris, and Mark Rees; partners of transgendered people such as Minnie Bruce Pratt; and contemporary transgender activists, including Leslie Feinberg and Kate Bornstein.

Califia scrutinizes feminist resistance to transsexuals occupying women's space and the Christian Right's backlash against transsexuals. Finally, the book explores the future of gender. Califia's first book oforiginal material in four years, Sex Changes includes an extensive bibliography and resource list.

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Review: Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism

User Review  - Frankie Reeves - Goodreads

Astonishingly detailed and objective studies on everything transgender. This book is an amazing first step for anybody interested in understanding more about transgender and transsexual history, and parts of it definitely helped me develop a great understanding of my sense of self. Read full review

Review: Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism

User Review  - Candice - Goodreads

This is one of my absolute favorite books. Patrick Califia is a wordsmith, full of persuasive arguments and fiery passion. As usual, Califia dares to go where most won't. From highly-critical reviews ... Read full review


An Introduction
Chapter 1
Chapter 3

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About the author (1997)

Patrick Califia is a noted pornographer and cultural critic whose writing and activism have revolutionized queer sex. Among his most noted books are Coming to Power, Macho Sluts, Melting Point, No Mercy, and Speaking Sex to Power.