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Transgender History

4.03  ·  Rating Details  ·  972 Ratings  ·  66 Reviews
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 s ...more
ebook, 208 pages
Published January 7th 2009 by Seal Press (CA) (first published May 1st 2008)
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Nov 29, 2014 Zanna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't going to comment on this book at all, since I was already familiar with most of the material from elsewhere. I very much enjoyed reading it as a for-us (and our friends) by-us piece of loving activism excavating and preserving a body of stories in danger of being lost. As such it's a worthy journalistic project well executed.

On reflection though, my familiarity with trans histories made me insensitive to the urgency of that project. I really hope general readers pick this up, because tr
Aug 31, 2014 Red rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A history of trans people that's actually mostly about trans people?? Perposterous! Contextualizing trans history within the framework of broader human history? Now you've gone too far, Susan Stryker. Far too far.
cons: published in 2008, so the language is a bit dated – in part because the movement has already changed so dramatically in the last 7 years. like– the author is clearly writing from her perspective, through her lens, in differentiating between one's "sex" (genitals) and gender. that differentiation has come under some very valid criticism in recent years (ex), and that's something to keep in mind. as much as this text is a chronicle of history, it doesn't exist outside of it, either.

pros: EVE
May 19, 2016 Monique rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really good. I learnt a lot and it was helpful to read it in conjunction with Safe Space: Gay Neighborhood and the Politics of Violence. While this book is specifically about transgender history rather than the LGBT movement in general it talks about many of the same organisations that have been involved in LGBT activism in the US during the last 100 years. My main criticism of Safe Space was that it often didn't spend a lot of time talking about trans women and their relationships to these orga ...more
Sara Jaye
Dec 08, 2008 Sara Jaye rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: queer-studies
This book is not exactly what I was expecting, which was both a good and a bad thing. I went into it thinking it would be a fairly general overview of trans history in the united states; what it is, is actually a somewhat more idiosyncratic history of trans social justice activism in the united states. on the plus side: i thought such a brief book would cover mostly basic info that was already familiar to me, but instead i got a wealth of fascinating info that isn't really very widely available. ...more
As other reviewers have noted, sometimes this book is a bit dated. To be honest, that makes me happy - it shows the progress of the last 7 years. It would have been nice to see acknowledgement that 'hermaphrodite' is a pretty unacceptable slur when used in reference to humans. It would have been nice to see more mention of non-binary people. But overall this book does a pretty fantastic job of introducing a heck of a lot of information about trans people and trans issues in an intelligent, inter ...more
Levi Amichai
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 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, thoug ...more
I picked up this book in an effort to learn more about the history and struggle of the transgender community in the US. This is a population that I know very little about their history and their current movement for equity. As someone who is trying to work towards allyship for all transgender folks, it was a very good foundation for me. I knew in brief some of the issues; however (because of my own privilege) I did not know the most severe oppressions the transgender community faced and still fa ...more
Mar 19, 2011 Vicky rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

- didn't mention that "transvestite" is considered derogatory in the terms listed
- seems to spend more time on MTF than FTM
- being transgendered & the digital age: some kind of link, challenging assumptions
- "homosexual" coined by karl maria kertbeny in 1869
- the state regulating bodies; norms and expectations that "determine what kinds of lives are deemed livable or useful and by shutting down the spaces of possibility and imaginative transformation where people's lives begin to exceed
Danni Green
Sep 06, 2015 Danni Green rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: genderawesome
This book is an excellent introduction to transgender history in the USA, written by a transgender person. It is well-researched, well-organized, and well-written. It includes both a comprehensive overview of major events in transgender US history as well as a pretty good introductory-level explanation of commonly used terms and concepts in transgender historical discourse. The author does a particularly excellent job of representing both the struggles and the triumphs, accurately portraying the ...more
Jul 10, 2014 Dana rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Reads like the cliff notes of transgender history, focusing almost exclusively on the US, but it's a great place to start to learn about a subject. The history was compared to both feminist and gay/lesbian history in different time periods, with did a lot to better explain various events and movements. There is an extensive reference list in the back with is good for further reading. Highly recommend.
Andrew Shaffer
Jan 04, 2016 Andrew Shaffer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book offers a great introduction to trans history, placing it within a broader cultural, political, and economic history of the U.S. Stryker demonstrates how transgender movements and progress are deeply a part of American culture, connecting threads from first wave feminism to the Civil Rights movement; from 18 and 19th century economic revolutions to 20th century political upheavals.

The best thing about this book, though, is Stryker's incredible generosity as an author. The book reads mor
Sep 28, 2014 Amélie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, pratique
Very interesting, although quite technical. I was hoping for something that would start earlier in time, and talk about transgender figures from the past (since I know some have been found), but this focused more on the politics and the definition of the movement. I still learnt many, many fascinating things.

This book was written in 2007, so it's really interesting to notice what has changed since. Mostly it's in the terms used - cis/cisgender, noted by the author as being new, is now widely acc
I think books such as this one are very important for our communities. I think knowing the roots of our movement is really important, as well as remembering about the generations who paved the way for trans people of the present days, and I can say I really learned a lot when reading this book.

However (I don't want to be the person who complains all the time about problematic language, but I'm going to be this person anyway), I was pretty put-off by some of the language that was used in the boo
Apr 27, 2012 Allan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good for what it is: a popular history of transgendered individuals and communities in America since 1850. Provides basic vocabulary and a streamlined narrative of the more than occasional moments of strife between the T and the LGB portions of the LGBT community. Stryker contextualizes riots, movements, academics, and activists in a flurry of civil rights, gay liberation, feminism, and conservative backlashes to explain that while transgendered men and women have been involved in similar debate ...more
Jan 01, 2012 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First book finished in 2012! (Granted, I started it in September 2011.)

Easy to read--my first historical overview of the trans movement as situated in the context of LGB and queer activism. I also thought it had a nice balance of MTF and FTM perspectives.

I thought the chapter "The Difficult Decades" was excellent and informative. And "Current Wave" caught me up. At least to 2008.

"As significant as participation in queer and LGBT politics has been for the transgender movement since the early 1990
Una libro chiaro e leggibile che dimostra di essere stato scritto da una storia. Molto più puntuale e diretto di altri testi simili più orientati agli studi sociali, gender studies o filosofici anche se ripercorre spesso le stesse tappe. Molto ricca e interessante la bibliografia in appendice ma "strane" le domande in coda al libro come se nascesse come libro di testo universitario completo di domande di approfondimento e test finale. Molte delle informazioni contenute le conoscevo già ma è stat ...more
Aug 20, 2014 Bryan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 transgender community, some adamantly support the belief that transgenderism is merely a social/moral issue and should not be tolerated.
Thomas Flannery
Jun 19, 2014 Thomas Flannery rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A brief but seemingly thorough history of transgender rights in the US. As a novice on the topic I found it both helpful and fascinating. I also ended up learning a lot about the roots of my own gay culture, and I have a better sense of how the trans and gay communities are similar and also very different.
Only con is sometimes the material got quite dense. Usually I just had to put it down for a minute and then tackle it again. Worth the effort.
Ramona Auble
Jun 20, 2016 Ramona Auble rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very informative, albeit slightly dense, text, offering a broad yet descriptive overview of transgender history in the United States from the early twentieth century to the present day. I really enjoyed this book for the well-researched insights that it bears, but if you wish to absorb it all, I very much recommend reading it twice.
Interesting study of the subject, there was (and undoubtedly is) definitely a wealth of information I do not know about the history of the transgender rights movement. This was a little more academic than I was in the mood for but that's in no way the fault of the author obviously. It was a quick read and seemed like a good overview.
Jul 27, 2015 Zora rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quick read for sure, but what a feat: distilling all of that knowledge into an accessible yet sophisticated short history. I learnt a lot and there are rich pickings here for those of us who teach gender and sexuality courses. I especially appreciated the primary material (I'm a historian - this is porn to me) and the various ways Stryker challenged the current preference for strictly demarcating gender from sexuality in trans discourses. The book is US-centric, but given this is her patch, an ...more
May 29, 2015 Kate rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, lgbttiqq2sa, ipad
I found this book interesting and written in a way that I could understand the basics of a very complicated topic. It is dispassionate but this makes it easier to understand. Thank you for a wonderful way for a lay person to understand this slice of our wonderful world!
Jun 23, 2012 Steph rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gender, queer, lgbtq
Susan Stryker here engages in the work of adding to a body of literature that is right now pretty small- transgender history in America. While the LGB parts of that history have slightly more documentation, the T has tended to be overlooked until the past two decades and Stryker fills in a lot of important gaps, including her original research into the early foundations of trans activism such as the uprisings of street queens. This book is very accessibly written and not at all boring, making it ...more
May 19, 2009 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
An excellent book if you're looking for an overview of transgender history (obviously), especially as it relates to various other social justice movements, such as feminism and queerness. Although it is functionally a textbook, the author does a good job keeping it interesting by adding biographical materials and excerpts from relevant documents. Because the book is trying to cover more than one hundred years of history on a global scale (although the focus is mainly on U.S. transgenderism), it ...more
Jun 29, 2016 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Good succinct version of transgender history in the United States. Some of it is starting to come across as outdated and I'd love to see a new version that includes recent history and updated terminology.
this is a decent, if cursory introduction to the trans movement in the US. there were a lot of little facts that i was unaware of, and much that i was appalled by (specifically the shunning of trans folks throughout the feminist and early gay rights movement. and interesting to hear how HRC has worked against trans people from the beginning.

there should have been more discussion towards the end about the conflation of transgender and transsexual and the difference between them, but this was an
The writing is lucid. While I did not agree with all of the points raised, the book does succeed as a historical analysis.
Connie McEntee
Apr 25, 2014 Connie McEntee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was given to me as a gift early in my coming out process. It's a great high-level overview of transgender history.
Jan 06, 2011 Travis rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009
A better title for the book would be Transgender History in the US, as there's barely any acknowledgement that other countries exist, much less that there might be trans people living there. It's also really short. The last forty pages are notes and such, and the first thirty are defining terms, so only 120 pages are actually devoted to the topic at hand. But for what it is, it's a pretty good read. While focusing primarily on white trans people, it does include PoC fairly often and acknowledges ...more
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Susan O'Neal Stryker is an American professor, author, filmmaker, and theorist whose work focuses on gender and human sexuality. She is an associate professor of Gender and Women's Studies at the University of Arizona, and is the director of the university's Institute for LGBT Studies. She has served as a visiting professor at Harvard University, University of California, Santa Cruz, and Simon Fra ...more
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“When people struggling against an injustice have no hope that anything will ever change, they use their strength to survive; when they think that their actions matter, that same strength becomes a force for positive change.” 2 likes
“Many people believe that gender rooted in biology...Many other people understand that gender is more like language than like biology; that is, while they understand us humans to have a biological capacity to use language, they point out we are not born with a hard-wired language "preinstalled" in our brains. Likewise, while we have a biological capacity to identify with and learn to "speak" from a particular location in a cultural gender system, we don't come into the world with a predetermined gender identity.” 2 likes
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