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Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism

3.87 of 5 stars 3.87  ·  rating details  ·  319 ratings  ·  16 reviews
Patrick Califia is one of the most outspoken and intelligent commentators on sexual politics writing today. Writing about both male-to-female and female-to-male transsexuals, he examines the lives of early transgender pioneers like Christine Jorgensen, Jan Morris, Renee Richards and Mark Rees; and contemporary transgender activists like Leslie Feinberg and Kate Bornstein. ...more
Paperback, 300 pages
Published August 20th 2003 by Cleis Press (first published 1997)
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It's been a bit since I read this book, but I'd have to say the only reason Pat Calfia is considered 'provocative' might be because he attacks other trans writers as not being 'trans enough,' or not trans 'in the right way.' I was fine with him complaining about Janice Raymond (definitely not a trans writer, just an idiot who writes ABOUT trans people), but when he attacked Kate Bornstein - one of my favourite writers - simply for being open about her past as a male, it was not okay. This is an ...more
Bean Delphiki
I haven't read this book in years, and so cannot give an especially detailed review of it. I gave it five stars simply because it had such an enormous, and deeply personal, influence on me when I read it.

I read this book when I was 16 and just coming out as an FtM to my friends and family. I read passages from this book out loud to my mother, and she was able to relate to them from a feminist perspective even while she felt conflicted about my announcement that I am transsexual. I believe this
A staggeringly sweeping overview of trans memoir and theory, I also found this book to be completely approachable. (Parenthetically, this is another book written by Califia pre-transition -- though the author does frankly discuss their considerations about transition and their decision not to pursue it at that time.) Starting with the famous Christine Jorgensen bio and other trans biographies, Califia moves from there into the complicated roles of medical professionals, anti-trans sentiment in l ...more
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 of transgender narratives to uncovering the truth about Janice Ryamond, to challenging the medical industrial complex to the rarely-discussed topic of partners of trans and gender-noncomforming people (which, by the way, gets its own chapter), he gets it right every time.

I cannot emphasize enough ho
Aug 26, 2007 Tobi rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: those wanting to learn about trans/transphobic history
Shelves: trans
I actually read this for a class on trans issues. It goes devotes each chapter to a segment of the population and their interactions with trans people: historians, medical professionals, feminists, etc.

I'm not fond of the assertion that gender variant people of past cultures would have obtained hormones and surgery if they were available to them, but it's encouraging to know that isn't a position the author continues to support.

Other than that, very well cited and deconstructs anti-trans and tra
Sarah Sammis
While I enjoyed the book thoroughly and learned a great deal I felt at times that the author's personal agenda clouded some of her discussions, especially those involving women (whether straight, lesbian, transgendered or otherwise). While I agree that women have been and in some places still are dominated and or repressed by men, I cannot agree that the experiences are as uniform and unilateral as she insists they are. Chapter three is the worst offender and quickly goes from being an academic ...more
J Baker
Patrick Califia's book was surprisingly insightful. I know he's received a lot of flak since he transitioned, but for me that doesn't lessen the impact or value of his historical attention to transgender issues, even if it does call into account, in some way I find irrelevant, his objectivity. He is clearly very passionate about it. It isn't a book mired in theory, which is part of its charm.
Aug 14, 2007 Jazzy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who want to learn more about transgendered people
Shelves: queer
this is a amazing collection of essays about the politics of transgererism. Califa is very unbiased in their writing. many of the essays talk about the negitive and possitive reactions to trans people. the history of the first out trannies, and the first out trannyphobs.
it is a great book of theory and i hate theory.
read it.
An insightful and brave book. It also includes a very informative and detailed history of trans people in America in the past half century. The author is not afraid to share opinions and ideas, even very controversial ones. In fact, I think they really enjoy de-simplifying an already complex issue. I'm appreciating this.
I gave this to my mom to read - it's the only transgender reader I've found that represents a wide enough variety of experience that it's pretty much approachable by everybody. Not perfect though, and I prefer the reader called "genderqueer" but felt most of those stories were too racy or personal for a parent.
Frankie Reeves
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.
Much of this book is dated, especially the preface to the second edition (the newest, I think) and the feminist section - Janice Raymond really isn't taken serious anymore. Even so, Sex Changes is interesting keeping in mind the 1997 perspective.
I tried REALLY hard to get through this book, but I have yet to.
It's a topic about which I am very curious, and of course no one writes about gender and sexuality like Pat/rick, but it did not hold my interest.
I'll try again some day.
Oz Barton
A rare find: a book about trans people, by a trans person, that isn't an autobiography and doesn't suck. Academic, rigorous, critical, and dense text.

By far one of my favorites on the topic.
Pretty good, although it tried to be too comprehensive and ended up a little unfocused. I wish he'd had more of a thesis or argument, though I know it was meant to be an overview kind of book.
Nov 14, 2008 Laura rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: smart, politically saavy queers
Recommended to Laura by: boifriend
a great book for anyone who wants to better understand transgenderism (i read it while dating a tranny-boi).
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