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Imagining Transgender: An Ethnography of a Category

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  142 ratings  ·  14 reviews
Imagining Transgender is an ethnography of the emergence and institutionalization of transgender as a category of collective identity and political activism. Embraced by activists in the early 1990s to advocate for gender-variant people, the category quickly gained momentum in public health, social service, scholarly, and legislative contexts. Working as a safer-sex activi ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published August 30th 2007 by Duke University Press Books (first published 2007)
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simon
Apr 11, 2008 simon rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who has learned anything about trans identity since the 1990s
Recommended to simon by: grad class
ok i haven't even finished this book. so i'm leaving that as an out just in case it goes to hell in the next 100 pages. but i'm going to go out on a limb here and say that this is one of the first books in trans studies that is written in the "Third World Feminist" style that is actually accessible. by that i mean that it's one of the first books i've read about trans/gender-variant folks that can be read by non-theory people that asks the question "What would transgender look like if non-middle ...more
Imogen
Jul 06, 2008 Imogen added it
Yeah! A book about trans stuff that's not super contentious and which I don't hate! Everybody's all skeptical about non-trans people writing about trans stuff, but I'm halfway through and it's actually refreshing to have an anthropologist come in and be all "here are the problems with anthropology, as we know, so I'm going to use its methods as a tool to interrogate the circumstances by which the word 'transgender' caught on like GODDAM WILDFIRE in the last fifteen years with ocial service provi ...more
Megan
Oct 02, 2007 Megan marked it as to-read
who wants to get and read this with me?
Kari
Imagining Transgender by Valentine, was a challenging read for me because I’m afraid I fall into using the term transgender as a category for gender variance, and while I recognize and know it is much more than that, in analytical work it becomes easy to just attribute all others to one category.
However, what struck me the most of this was the discussions of inclusion and exclusion based on how one identifies and the importance placed on identifying the “appropriate” way for the company you kee
...more
Kayla Lessard
David Valentine’s book, Imagining Transgender, was written for an academic audience. However, the way he intertwines, history, theory, and experiences is easily understood by a more diverse audience. I think he maps out his idea of the Transgender community in a way that an audience beyond academia could read and digest the information he gives. He is able to pull from a wide range of contexts including, history of visibility and intersectionality of gender, theorists, academics who also wrote a ...more
Drew
I gave this book 2 stars partly because of the over self-reflexive style of the author and partly because it lacked an accessible style that is paramount for anthropology to bridge the gap between the academy and the general public.

There are some interesting points that the author both intentionally and unintentionally raises. He addresses the issues of advocacy organizations, especially as they focus on their policy needs, which might contradict with their founding mythos or greater goods. [I a
...more
Annalisa
A really wonderful ethnography of what "transgender" means. Valentine discovered that many of the people he met while doing research in 1990s NYC did not identify as "transgendered" but as gay, fem queen, butch lesbian and so on. Rather than assume these people just didn't understand, he took them at their word and set out to explore how race, class, gender, sexuality, politics and day to day experience influence and are influenced by the term transgender. He investigated the ways in which an um ...more
Levi
Jan 12, 2011 Levi marked it as paused-reading
Recommended to Levi by: Tim G. ("Mom")
Shelves: gender, non-fiction
The one that got me into this mess. Fascinating sociology (even if I still don't get the exact differences between a butch queen up in drags and... all the other ones), and some other interesting ideas. Not remotely a primer (oops).

Falls prey to a very typical problem with trans sociology: there's way more focus on (approximately) 'transfeminine' than (approximately) 'transmasculine' people. To his credit, Valentine talks to about two who could be classified as the latter. You have to wonder why
...more
Eden
Fantastic, fascinating storytelling disguised as anthropological discourse and vice versa. Dr. Valentine presents challenging arguements about how gender identity is perceived and addressed outside the Trans community and within it, based on honing categories such as race and class. A great way to shatter the concepts of gender identity dysphoria as a single umbrella concept. The book was also nominated for the 2008 Lambda Literary Awards, and is completely deserving of the honor.
Emily
Balanced between theory and ethnography gathered in 1990s New York City, Valentine interrogates the category of transgender, revealing that its use may in fact disadvantage many of low low-income people of color that it attempts to give voice to.
Ashleigh
Excellent book on complicating the definition of "transgender", research methods, and working to understand how people define themselves in various communities.
Badger Diva
good stories but seemed a bit too short and i think he should write more up as a retrospective
Jess
Only read a couple of chapters for a course, but it gave me a lot to think about.
Jeff
Re-reading this again. The theoretical frame of this book is awesome!
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GWS301@Bowdoin: Imagining Transgender 13 16 Feb 19, 2012 02:40PM  
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  • How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States
  • Trans Liberation: Beyond Pink or Blue
  • The Riddle of Gender: Science, Activism, and Transgender Rights
  • GenderQueer: Voices From Beyond the Sexual Binary
  • Normal Life: Administrative Violence, Critical Trans Politics and the Limits of Law
  • Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism
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  • Global Divas: Filipino Gay Men in the Diaspora
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  • Exile and Pride: Disability, Queerness, and Liberation
  • Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times
  • Scars Tell Stories: A Queer and Trans (Dis)ability Zine
  • Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality

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