The Lives of Transgender People

The Lives of Transgender People

Genny Beemyn
Susan Rankin
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 248
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7312/beem14306
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Lives of Transgender People
    Book Description:

    Responding to a critical need for greater perspectives on transgender life in the United States, Genny Beemyn and Susan (Sue) Rankin apply their extensive expertise to a groundbreaking survey-one of the largest ever conducted in the U.S.-on gender development and identity-making among transsexual women, transsexual men, crossdressers, and genderqueer individuals. With nearly 3,500 participants, the survey is remarkably diverse, and with more than 400 follow-up interviews, the data offers limitless opportunities for research and interpretation.

    Beemyn and Rankin track the formation of gender identity across individuals and groups, beginning in childhood and marking the "touchstones" that led participants to identify as transgender. They explore when and how participants noted a feeling of difference because of their gender, the issues that caused them to feel uncertain about their gender identities, the factors that encouraged them to embrace a transgender identity, and the steps they have taken to meet other transgender individuals. Beemyn and Rankin's findings expose the kinds of discrimination and harassment experienced by participants in the U.S. and the psychological toll of living in secrecy and fear. They discover that despite increasing recognition by the public of transgender individuals and a growing rights movement, these populations continue to face bias, violence, and social and economic disenfranchisement. Grounded in empirical data yet rich with human testimony, The Lives of Transgender People adds uncommon depth to the literature on this subject and introduces fresh pathways for future research.

    eISBN: 978-0-231-51261-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology, Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. FOREWORD
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    Shannon Minter

    This groundbreaking study by Genny Beemyn and Sue Rankin is the first to examine the full diversity of the transgender community— not only those who are transsexual but also the growing number of individuals who identify their genders in nonbinary ways. Through surveys and interviews with a huge sampling of transgender people from across the country, it is the first major study to combine methodological rigor with an insider’s grasp of the nuances and complexities of transgender lives. As a transgender attorney who has spent the last seventeen years advocating for transgender people, I have often wished for a book...

  4. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-13)

    People who do not identify entirely or at all with the gender assigned to them at birth have steadily achieved greater recognition over the past century. They include male-to-female (MTF) transsexuals (individuals assigned male at birth who identify as and often seek to transition to female), female-to-male (FTM) transsexuals (individuals assigned female at birth who identify as and often seek to transition to male), cross-dressers (individuals who present at least part time as a gender different from the one assigned to them at birth), drag kings and drag queens (individuals who cross-dress in traditionally masculine and feminine ways, respectively, mainly...

  6. 1 DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE SURVEY PARTICIPANTS
    (pp. 15-37)

    “Is it a boy or a girl?” In our culture, the answer is almost always dependent on what a physician or health care professional determines by someone’s anatomy at birth. If the infant has a penis, then it is a boy; if the infant does not, then it is a girl. Gender assignment is thus medicalized, phallocentric, and dichotomous. The prevalence of disorders of sex development¹ aside, this binary gender system is considered an immutable, universal fact of nature. Once established, gender assignment evokes and prescribes boundless sociocultural constructs. For example, the conflation of biological “sex” with the socially constructed...

  7. 2 EXPERIENCES OF TRANSGENDER IDENTITY
    (pp. 39-77)

    Whether transgender people identify as female-to-male (FTM) or male-to-female (MTF) transsexual individuals, cross-dressers, genderqueers, androgynes, or as other nonbinary gender identities, they feel different from others of their assigned gender and question the social expectations that result from this gender assignment. The time in their lives when transgender individuals recognize themselves as “different” varies, as do how they experience and feel about their sense of difference. Uncertainty about their gender identity leads some people to search for information about what they are experiencing and to claim a transgender identity readily. Others repress their feelings and acknowledge themselves as transgender only...

  8. 3 THE CLIMATE FOR TRANSGENDER PEOPLE
    (pp. 79-107)

    Several terms are used to describe institutional or organizational contexts, including psychological climate, organizational climate, and organizational culture (Parker et al. 2003). Climate can be conceptualized both as a perception and as a description (Rousseau 1988), and it has been a focus of organizational research since the late 1960s (Litwin & Stringer 1968). Later researchers distinguished between individual and organizational conceptualizations of climate, labeling them psychological and organizational climate, respectively (James & Jones 1974). According to William Glick (1985), “researchers concerned with individual perceptions focus on psychological climate, whereas organizational climate is investigated when organizational attributes are of interest” (602)....

  9. 4 DEVELOPMENTAL MILESTONES OF DIFFERENT TRANSGENDER GROUPS
    (pp. 109-157)

    We developed the survey that serves as the basis for this book because we recognized the need for more and better data on the processes through which people begin to identify as transgender. We also conducted this work because we wanted to offer a more inclusive and more nuanced look at the lives of transgender people. Previous research has often treated transgender people as a single, unified group—frequently in the context of research on LGBT people—or has focused on one segment of transgender communities (e.g., cross-dressing men or transsexual women). Our work sought to address the experiences of...

  10. 5 TRANSGENDER YOUTH AND IMPLICATIONS FOR HIGHER EDUCATION
    (pp. 159-166)

    In this final chapter, we focus on higher education because, as professionals in the field, we see increasing numbers of college students coming out publicly as transgender or as gender nonconforming. Twenty years ago, it was rare to find a student at any college or university who openly identified as transgender. Today, informal and organized transgender groups exist at many institutions; even small colleges, religiously affiliated schools, and military academies report having transgender students on their campuses.

    Even so, few colleges and universities have developed comprehensive policies and practices to address the needs of transgender students and acknowledge their experiences....

  11. APPENDIX A TRANSGENDER SURVEY INSTRUMENT
    (pp. 167-180)
  12. APPENDIX B INTERVIEW PROTOCOL
    (pp. 181-184)
  13. APPENDIX C REVIEW OF STATISTICAL ANALYSES
    (pp. 185-196)
  14. NOTES
    (pp. 197-200)
  15. REFERENCES
    (pp. 201-218)
  16. INDEX
    (pp. 219-230)