Synopses & Reviews
takes a bold new approach to the study of transsexualism in the twentieth century. By addressing the significance of medical technology to the phenomenon of transsexualism, Bernice L. Hausman transforms current conceptions of transsexuality as a disorder of gender identity by showing how developments in medical knowledge and technology make possible the emergence of new subjectivities.
Hausmanandrsquo;s inquiry into the development of endocrinology and plastic surgery shows how advances in medical knowledge were central to the establishment of the material and discursive conditions necessary to produce the demand for sex changeandmdash;that is, to both andquot;makeandquot; and andquot;thinkandquot; the transsexual. She also retraces the hidden history of the concept of gender, demonstrating that the semantic distinction between andquot;naturalandquot; sex and andquot;socialandquot; gender has its roots in the development of medical treatment practices for intersexualityandmdash;the condition of having physical characteristics of both sexesandmdash; in the 1950s. Her research reveals the medical institutionandrsquo;s desire to make heterosexual subjects out of intersexuals and indicates how gender operates semiotically to maintain heterosexuality as the norm of the human body. In critically examining medical discourses, popularizations of medical theories, and transsexual autobiographies, Hausman details the elaboration of andquot;gender narrativesandquot; that not only support the emergence of transsexualism, but also regulate the lives of all contemporary Western subjects. Changing Sex will change the ways we think about the relation between sex and gender, the body and sexual identity, and medical technology and the idea of the human.
andquot;Building upon earlier critiques of the medical management of gender, Hausman provides a rich analysis of the significance of technology on this centuryandrsquo;s shift from looking for the andquot;trueandquot; sex to the andquot;bestandquot; one. Having tracked down valuable and fascinating sources, she gives a previously neglected historical perspective on transsexualism and intersexuality. Gender scholars from every discipline will find this book important.andquot;andmdash;Suzanne Kessler, Purchase College, State University of New York
andquot;Changing Sex makes a landmark contribution to gender studies and the understanding of transsexualism. It is thorough and accessible in its combination of medical analysis, social criticism, and application of critical theory. It is original and provocative, and will be controversial in the best sense.andquot;andmdash;Julia Epstein, Haverford College
"Building upon earlier critiques of the medical management of gender, Hausman provides a rich analysis of the significance of technology on this century's shift from looking for the "true" sex to the "best" one. Having tracked down valuable and fascinating sources, she gives a previously neglected historical perspective on transsexualism and intersexuality. Gender scholars from every discipline will find this book important."--Suzanne Kessler, Purchase College, State University of New York
Includes bibliographical references (p. -238) and index.
About the Author
Bernice L. Hausman is Assistant Professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia.