Transsexual Grammars at the fin de siècle
Edited by Kate More and Stephen Whittle
Book review kindly provided by by Dr Tracie O'Keefe DCH
Stephen Whittle, as many will know, is a trans-man, activist and senior lecturer in law at Manchester Metropolitan University who has for many years been president of Press for Change and a high-profile campaigner. Kate More was one of the founders of Radical Deviance, a journal of transgender politics, which sought to discuss, educate and challenge models of caring, including rape crisis that had previously excluded trans-people.
This book is a collection of papers that brings together a number of ideas of gender theory that aid the demolition of bipolar notions of sex gender and sexuality. It is a very diverse book that expresses the opinions of many different people, all of whom have been immersed in different aspects of what is often referred to as the gender movement.
Now that gender theory (as it is calling itself) is splitting off in many ways from queer theory it is important that writers in this field share their ideas not only among themselves but also with academia and the general public. Gender theory is now incorporating intersex issues and assisting people in their struggle for their equal rights to identity. Gender theory has now been divorced, for much of the time, from the queer movement because of transphobia that occurs in the queer community and that fact that many issues affecting gay people do not apply to transpeople and vice versa.
There is a lot of thought and discussion in this book that is extremely academic but it also includes material that is more plain and at a street level. It is so important that members of the gender movement help society redefine the social constructs of gender, reflecting back to society the way in which it artificially constructs gender; however, at times, I do think the gender movement is often overly obsessed with gender when for many people their issues are physical sex and/or gender.
Certainly this book is a scholarly work and it is produced by heavily queer publishers Cassell so in many ways it does show that the queer movement is supporting the gender movement to criticise, deconstruct and give opportunities to reconstruct better models that can assist all individuals' struggle for their rights in the future. Historically it is so, so important that we have records of these writings that we can use and take forward to assist us in becoming the creators of our own fates that have often not been left solely in the hands of academics who may have been apart from the transgender movement itself.
Dr Tracie O'Keefe DCH is a clinical hypnotherapist, psychotherapist, and counsellor formerly practising at The London Medical Centre, Harley Street in the UK. Now the Director of the Sex, Gender, and Sexuality Identity Clinic, at The O'Keefe Institute, Sydney, Australia.
Published by Cassell London UK 1999
ISBN 0 304 33776 5
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