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Transgender History

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  2,459 ratings  ·  226 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
Paperback, 208 pages
Published May 6th 2008 by Seal Press
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Alicia Winokur There might be a few references to sex, and maybe one or two mild language uses in quotes, but I think it's overall appropriate for teens.

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May 03, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Sep 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018
First published in 2008 but recently revised and rereleased, Susan Stryker's Transgender History overviews a wide array of American individuals, events, and organizations related to trans history. The book lacks an overarching narrative that ties together all the chapters, though each proceeds chronologically. The main chapters are preceded by an introduction featuring a catalogue of terms and definitions. Stryker's meandering focus and lack of a thesis often makes her book read like a history t ...more
Jan 24, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Mar 18, 2017 added it
Shelves: trans, non-fiction
This is a really good primer on US transgender history focused on the past fifty years or so and showcasing prominent figures alongside pivotal movements. Stryker does a really good job of contextualizing the political battles and the attendant conflicts/betrayals of the larger queer community and the feminist movements.

Nuanced, readable, eminently informative: highly recommended.
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
Heidi Archer
Jan 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Transgender History” challenged me on many levels, particularly when it comes to my feminist ideals, which are admittedly evolving and being challenged frequently, and this book is no exception. I will need to think more deeply about the issues raised in this book, specifically how the whole gender and sex conversation can be quite binary and dualistic.

“Breaking apart the forced unity of sex and gender, while increasing the scope of liveable lives, needs to be a central goal of feminism and ot
Samuel Berston
May 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
Comprehensive overview of trans liberation movements with a moving final chapter.
Sara Jaye
Dec 08, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 10, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Oct 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, lgbtq
fantastic and engaging, though i’m pretty disappointed that the definition given for bisexuality in the opening chapter is the “attraction to two binary genders” nonsense
May 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
really great introductory text to transgender history! did a really clever job of successfully deploying historical terminology within the terms of the history (explaining the shift from terms like transsexual and transvestite to transgender) and carefully arcs the history of transgender exclusion within the queer community from 73 to the present. also does a really good job introducing relevant texts, including those written by trans exclusionary authors.

the biggest flaw in the book really come
Dec 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read the revised edition/2nd edition published in 2017.
Incredible book, I learnt so much. One of the best LGBTQ history books I've read, I'd recommend everyone to read this book. It's also very accessible, enjoyable and easy to read.
The only part I felt let it down was the final chapter on recent trans history, mostly because it was a lot of stuff I already knew and also because I felt it didn't push it's politics hard enough.
Sep 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbt, nonfiction
a thorough yet quick read on american trans history. provided a lot of context for issues going on today (use of the word queer, terfs, etc).
Chris Burd
Mar 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, politics
This is not a full scale "history of transgender identity" - and I think it is important to keep that in mind. (And the author makes that very clear in the opening of the book.) Instead, this is a history of the transgender political movement within the United States. While that sounds like a rather narrow perspective, it allows for a very focused and clear narrative.

I highly recommend this book for anyone with an interest in queer history - or anyone with an interest in activism.

Note: I read th
Anthony Chan
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it
Quite informative and an excellent launching point into the understanding the transgender struggle.
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
Jul 27, 2013 rated it liked it
It is the history of all the people that Stryker deems under the umbrella term "transgender" in the USA only. And only in the last 150 years. A tad limiting, but she's mainly attempting to just set up the transgender political movement how it is today and show its immediate history politically. It does it's job. I would think queer history/theory 101 textbook. not fun reading.
Jul 25, 2016 rated it liked it
This wasn't quite what I was looking for. As a cisgendered, heterosexual individual, I think I wanted to understand the story of transgender more than the actual history. There were glimmers of what I was looking for, but I think I might be looking for more of a biography than a history.
May 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
an approachable and thought-provoking read contextualizing the struggle for trans* liberation within feminist and LGBT activism ~ I learned from this book that if feminism is truly seeking gender equality, uplifting the rights of trans and non-binary folks MUST be central to this endeavor
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
We read this book in my Gay History class and I really loved it. It’s enlightening to learn, as a trans person and a queer person in general, how much of our history has been taken from us and/or been silenced by those in power. This book informed me of so many events and individuals that I had no clue existed before I read it. Growing up in the Internet age, you learn about other queer people through interactions with other queer people and through something like a tumblr post or a twitter thre ...more
Cynthia Shin
Jan 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed, sarah
An introduction to trans* history in the US. There was many surprising factors like the part on how cross-dressing was illegal and stories about Chelsea Manning. I clearly don't know enough about history nor politics. The chapter on introducing different gender/sex-related concepts was really nice! The book is simple and straightforward.

I hope this would be a starting point of many readings to come :)
Jun 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
a fantastic, well-written, and socially conscious historical text - should be required reading for everyone!
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent intro to trans history written by a trans person. I learned a lot while reading this.
Patrick French
Nov 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
Dense, but very thorough history and information.
This is dense, like a textbook. Content is good and important, though.
Mar 17, 2011 rated it really liked it

- 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 and
Aug 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: pratique, history
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
Sep 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Good 101 text but not quite what I was looking for. Saw this recently as a recommendation for a good foundation text of the history of transgender people and their history in the United States and as it was also a "quick" read it seemed like it would be a good text to add as a "general" book for knowledge.
And that's what it is. Stryker provides an overview of various people, groups, organizations, etc. in the history of transgender people in the US. Some of it was quite fascinating: the laws th
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
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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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