Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity” as Want to Read:
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

4.17  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,865 Ratings  ·  329 Reviews
A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl tells the powerful story of Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist. Serano shares her experiences and observations — both pre- and post-transition — to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness
Kindle Edition, 402 pages
Published May 20th 2009 by Seal Press (first published April 23rd 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Whipping Girl, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Whipping Girl

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Sep 17, 2013 Trevor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trevor by: Laia
Shelves: social-theory
I was talking to Lorena about this book – Lorena is my go-to person for all things gender related. She lived as a lesbian for many years and so knows stuff I can’t even guess at. I told her that the strangest thing about reviewing this book (I tend to review while I read nowadays – one of the odd changes goodreads has wrought) is how each of my mock reviews started with me stressing how straight I am. It’s the strangest thing. Like someone about to review a book by a Nazi might start by mentioni ...more
Jul 04, 2007 Julian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: non-fiction, queer
COMPLETELY AWESOME IN EVERY WAY. Gender analysis and theory that is somehow not wanktastic and jargony, is fresh, clear, and not all bogged down in a bunch of agenda driven bullshit, and based on the author's experiences as a trans woman. As I read this book, my primary thoughts were "This makes SO MUCH SENSE!" Parts were like reading the inside of my own head. Parts gave me an insight into things I will never experience myself. Brilliant.
This book has two halves, one of which I loved and one of which was pretty terrible.

The parts where she discussed, analyzed, and criticized transgender issues from terminology to medical processes were awesome. Serano is a wonderful writer who really knows what she is talking about in this section. She challenges assumptions, educates, and really makes the reader think. I especially loved her final conclusions, that the focus should be on confronting gender privilege instead of simply performin
May 06, 2016 Tara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
There are things I love about this book, mostly Serano's more personal writing, and some of the writing about her experiences on estrogen are beautiful/heartbreaking. All of her writing on hormones feels very spot-on to me, as do her theories on "the scapegoating of femininity."
But there were too many little unfair jabs at non-binary/genderqueer folks, and some of them felt really hurtful and maybe she made me cry. It's pretty clear that Serano doesn't think that identifying outside of the binar
Aug 01, 2014 Zanna rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Zanna by: Alicia
I failed to distinguish personal interpretive note-making from writing for an audience here, and wrote too much about this book to fit into the space.

The full review-summary is in three parts here:
Part I
Part II
Part III

Needless to say, I found the experience too important and overwhelming to review properly. I'd like to highlight these descriptions:

Transphobia is an irrational fear of, aversion to or discrimination against people whose gendered identities, appearances or behaviours differ from s
Sherwood Smith
I am beginning to wonder if "It's good to be cis" parallels "It's good to be rich." Being rich makes all these other problems of life invisible--you want something? You get it. Or you order someone to get it for you. The wish is the deed. For the rest of us, the wish can be a receding mirage as we struggle to make a penny stretch, to squeeze time from job and other obligations, yadda. So, yeah, it's nice to be rich . . . but no one comes along and helpfully legislates that we all have to be rich ...more
Carl Vine
May 10, 2014 Carl Vine rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This book opens with a quote by Audre Lorde and, near the end, it references bell hooks to explain living as people on the margins. The latter example was the only time a woman of color living in 'white America' is acknowledged. As somebody with a PhD in Biochemistry, who has access to the time to read the political works of Lorde and hooks, Serano has failed to interrogate whiteness as an identity construct of power that seeks to further its dominance on all. Failing to understand her whiteness ...more
Nov 12, 2012 Lia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm reading this five years after it was published (in 2007) and, it seems, after loads of people I know who have discussed this book specifically and also absorbed its ideas into their critiques of so many issues (particularly in discussions around transmisogyny), so it doesn't feel as fresh as I'm sure it would have when it was first published.

Even so, it's pretty incisive. In Part 1, "Trans/Gender Theory", Serano disambiguates a lot of concepts that are confused in discourse around sex and g
jessi lee
Mar 09, 2008 jessi lee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: feminists
Recommended to jessi lee by: mr. strikeback
i love this book. i was just quoting it in my "cultural diversity" class in counseling school & now half the class promised to read it. it's the best feminist text i've read in years.

things that i'm grateful for: the term "transmisogyny"; the discussion of oppositional sexism; the sharp analysis of media representations of trans women & absence of trans men in the media; the discussion of the history of cis academics & scientists using/abusing transsexual people; the discussion of ci
Nov 24, 2010 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book for a class about gender, specifically people that identify as transsexual or transgendered. I was fairly disappointed with this book on the whole. I have to say that it was very informative about a lot of topics that I, as someone who does not identify as transsexual, hadn't even been introduced to. However, my displeasure resulted from the tone of Serano's writing. I felt like the whole time she was explaining things, she was saying, "Oh, you cissexual people can NEVER underst ...more
Emma Sea
Feb 02, 2014 Emma Sea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well. Phew. There's a lot in here. I have a lot of notes. It took me two months to read this book, because I'd get frustrated about her insistence on the biological origins of "femininity" and have to close the book. I'd really like to sit down with Julia over a bottle of wine and argue with her about that, because she makes some really interesting and valid points, but I deeply believe she's wrong.

But it's a clear, articulate, engaging, awesome book, which neatly unpicks the whole "woman in a
Elizabeth S. Q. Goodman
My original review is below. My viewpoint has changed as trans activism have become much more personal to me, and this book is the best "education for trans allies" book that I know of. Furthermore, it's really good if you've ever felt constrained by social gender constructions. Seriously--it's a lot of good thinking about where stuff comes from and how to deal with it.

A friend recommended it to me; one really has to process her ideas a lot before dissenting, I think. I say this not because
Jul 04, 2012 Zoe rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: feminist, z
She's into the liberal subject, and I can't get behind that. It wasn't all terrible, but it does a lot of essentialism and demonstrates a lot of the flaws of identity politics. She dismisses performativity and construction but clearly doesn't understand the concepts, then obsesses over a real/artificial dichotomy which "makes sense" because she's trying to posit that trans women are women too, but doesn't make sense because real and artificial can't apply to gender (hence, we reach her goal but ...more
May 06, 2009 Joel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I was entirely disappointed by this book. The author is a male-to-female-spectrum transsexual woman who is also an evolutionary biologist. Due to her scientific background, I was super excited to see what she had to say about her experiences and what she feels it's all about.

Instead, however, she uses the book to make exceptionally un-thought-out claims which lead her to wildy specious conclusions. I read a friend's copy of this and wound up marking it up so much that I'm not even sure the orig
Jul 15, 2012 Teagan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone who is, knows, or loves a trans person.
Picking up this book was such an empowering moment. For the first time in my 27 years of being transgender, I saw myself reflected properly in print. Julia Serano was like a more experienced, smarter, older sister, showing me that it is ok to be myself, whatever shape that is. She showed me that we're not crazy, broken or disgusting, and some of us are clever and funny and capable. She deconstructed media representations that have troubled me since childhood and explained the origin of stereotyp ...more
Leta Blake
Apr 21, 2015 Leta Blake rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have lots of thoughts about lots of things in this book but this probably isn't the forum for them. Regardless, this book sums up a lot of my own feelings about misogyny and the role it plays in homophobia, transphobia, and sexism. It was informative in a bunch of other ways, helped clarify my own view of my subconscious gender (and it's probably not what you'd think if you know me). While there were some specific conclusions she came to (especially regarding the motivations of all cisgender p ...more
Aug 09, 2013 Cornfed rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Badly written, self-delusional and offensive claptrap. Only a man would try to claim that femininity is discriminated against, as opposed to actual womanhood! Read some real feminism instead - Andrea Dworkin, Sheila Jeffreys etc.
Jan 28, 2008 Bryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: This is kind of required reading for anyone who wants to be my friend.
Shelves: gay-gay-gay
Yes yes yes yes yes. Finally.
Feb 13, 2009 Kira rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all "MTF spectrum" people, women's studies scholars, and especially MTF crossdressers
Shelves: gender, favorites
I read most of this book in one night. The theory half of the book was astute and well-argued, but it was the second half, chapters 10, 15, 17 19, that spoke to me. Alternately sent cold shivers down my back and had me marking up the margins with "Yes!", "**", et cetera. Just a very good book on trans misogyny unless part II personally connects with you. In which case.. Best. Book. Ever.
The preceding review is not really a critique in any way, just a reaction shortly after finishing th
Jun 02, 2008 simon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this book is a breath of fresh air in the world of trans theory/non-fiction. personal and political, truly feminist all the way down. great critique of the objectification of trans people and bodies in the growing world of academic queer/trans studies. strategically argues for understanding the struggles for gender liberation as a coalition of allies rather than trying to fit everyone under one trans "umbrella". muscled it into my grad queer theory class to offer some balance to all the non-tran ...more
Oct 31, 2007 Shea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This book was recommended to me during a conference I went to for work back when I was with AmeriCorps, and I did not get a chance to read it until last week. I nearly forgot about the recommendation actually, but I stumbled across it while working and immediately decided to read it. Serano tackles two major issues in this book: 1) "mainstream" feminism in society and 2) transsexualism in society. The former I was very acquainted with and recognized many of the authors that Serano talks about, a ...more
I think this is a very important book, one that everyone should read, but: the structure and sometimes the style of writing bothered me so much that I can only give it 3 stars.

At times, I actually found myself getting annoyed at the author because of her aggressive tone regarding just about anyone who says anything about trans matters while not being trans themselves. Everyone everywhere is apparently depicting things in the wrong way. A little less aggressiveness would have made this smoother.
Mar 22, 2016 Kerri rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of essays explores the ways in which sexism acts as the predominant form of oppression of transsexual women. While the main focus is fairly narrow and does not delve into all issues relevant to everyone under the trans umbrella, it is an outstanding introduction to the topic (particularly the topic of transsexualism) and I learned a great deal. In particular, Serano's explanation of two issues were very helpful to me. The first is her differentiation of sexual orientation, gender ...more
Dec 02, 2008 ellen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am still digesting this book, it's been a long time since I've read a feminist manifesto of sorts and it's taking me some time to wrap my head around it.

First and foremost I think voices like Serano's are incredibly important, to the feminist movement, the queer movement, and within mainstream society. I agree with the majority of what she has to say, about the nature of sexism and cissexual privilege, the ways in which trans voices and experiences are silenced, and how the fears and expectati
Aug 04, 2007 Carolyn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really fantastic. In this book Julia Serano makes a series of, in my mind, exceptionally clear and persuasive arguments about gender expression, illuminating and demolishing the very problematic, deeply rooted notion that (to steal from the book's rear cover) "femininity is frivolous, weak and inherently inferior to maleness and masculinity." Her experiences as a trans woman inform much of this book but this book certainly isn't exclusively for trans people. I think this book deserves to be an e ...more
Jun 13, 2016 Lena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2016
Really fucking excellent. A crucial read for anybody at all, from the most ignorant person wondering "what being trans means" to the most erudite gender scholars. I especially love the concepts Serano puts into words and uses throughout the book, like "effemimania" and this idea of a subconscious sex versus a conscious sex and then a gender presentation. She spells everything out so clearly and breaks down what it's like to live as a trans woman in modern-day America SO DEFTLY that it's hard not ...more
Nov 11, 2013 Alexa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fab-13
A heartfelt appeal to feminists to fight more for the right to be “feminine” – however each individual person defines that for herself. She makes a valid point that femininity has been almost universally derided, laughed at, and scorned. What is this but another form of misogyny? This does not mean that we have to accept society’s definition of what femininity consists of, or its sexualization of femininity. I am embarrassed to admit just how completely oblivious I was of all of the various poli ...more
Jun 05, 2007 Imogen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is totally the best book on transwoman stuf I've ever read, but a lot of it still didn't resonate with me- specifically her experience with hormones and their effects, how easy she found it to be appropriately gendered by other folks, and her experiences with the queer/trans community. Still though, totally badass and right on, for the most part, and I would totally recommend it to anybody who's ever wondered about the reality of being a transwoman.
Because I do spend time in my negative assessment of academic books and scholarly texts, I feel like I have to note that it is obvious that Serano has truly done the research in putting this book together. Her arguments are straightforward and logical, and the references are there to back up what she is saying. This book also functions as a great overview of the literature on transsexuality. It's also extremely accessible and not difficult at all to read.

Serano suggests that trans women are "ri
Heather K (dentist in my spare time)
88% price drop to $1.00 at Amazon US! 6/16/14!
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Madison Mega-Mara...: #9 Whipping Girl by Julia Serano 1 3 Jan 20, 2014 06:56PM  
FABClub (Female A...: Whipping Girl (Monthly Memoir June '13) 10 24 Jan 15, 2014 11:59AM  
fMh: * Whipping Girl Introduction and Trans Woman Manifesto 17 75 Dec 11, 2012 07:58PM  
fMh: Whipping Girl Chapter 1: Terminology! 6 31 Dec 09, 2012 12:13PM  
fMh: Reading a book together? 6 37 Nov 24, 2012 11:31AM  
  • Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity
  • GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary
  • Gender Outlaws: The Next Generation
  • Transgender History
  • Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue
  • Feminism FOR REAL: Deconstructing the Academic Industrial Complex of Feminism
  • Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation
  • Persistence: All Ways Butch and Femme
  • The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You
  • Sexing the Body: Gender Politics and the Construction of Sexuality
  • Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism
  • Queer Theory, Gender Theory: An Instant Primer
  • Brazen Femme: Queering Femininity
  • Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People
  • Yes Means Yes!: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape
  • Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology
  • How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States
  • PoMoSexuals: Challenging Assumptions About Gender and Sexuality
Julia Serano is an Oakland, California-based writer, spoken word performer, trans activist, and biologist.
More about Julia Serano...

Share This Book

“It is offensive that so many people feel that it is okay to publicly refer to transsexuals as being “pre-op” or “post-op” when it would so clearly be degrading and demeaning to regularly describe all boys and men as being either “circumcised” or “uncircumcised.” 39 likes
“The hardest part has been learning how to take myself seriously when the entire world is constantly telling me that femininity is always inferior to masculinity” 29 likes
More quotes…