Synopses & Reviews
A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl
tells the powerful story of Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist. Serano shares her experiences and observations both pre- and post-transition to reveal the ways in which fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness toward femininity shape our societal attitudes toward trans women, as well as gender and sexuality as a whole.
Serano's well-honed arguments stem from her ability to bridge the gap between the often-disparate biological and social perspectives on gender. She exposes how deep-rooted the cultural belief is that femininity is frivolous, weak, and passive, and how this "feminine" weakness exists only to attract and appease male desire.
In addition to debunking popular misconceptions about transsexuality, Serano makes the case that today's feminists and transgender activist must work to embrace and empower femininity in all of its wondrous forms.
"'With her first full-length book, biologist, writer and musician Serano positions herself as a Betty Friedan of the transsexual community. Making a case that trans discrimination is steeped in sexism and that trans activism is a feminist movement, Serano delivers a series of articulate, compelling and provocative essays that unmask many of the misconceptions surrounding transsexualism, gender and feminism. Where most books on the topic focus either on first-person accounts or clinical observations, Serano approaches her topic from multiple angles. Tempering her own experience as a transsexual woman with psychological documentation, historical research and sociological data, she explores the debate on biology versus socialization; the media's 'lurid,' 'superficial' and 'contrived' depictions of trans women; the psychology of transitioning; 'boygasms' versus 'girlgasms'; nonacceptance and marginalization of transsexual women by the feminist community; and the subtle shades of gray between masculinity and femininity. Though her writing is dense at times, Serano largely succeeds in breaking down complex issues and offering deep insights that will be valued by anyone interested in transsexualism or gender studies. (June)' Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Serano has...either opened a door into a new world or widened the scope of an already informed discussion of gender, transsexuality and femininity. From either perspective, her work is worth investigating." San Francisco Chronicle
About the Author
Julia Serano is a writer and spoken-word artist on the subject of gender with a PhD in biochemistry from Columbia University. She is a researcher at UC Berkeley in the field of evolutionary and developmental biology and has performed her spoken word at such high-profile events as the National Queer Arts Festival, San Francisco Trans and Dyke March Stages, Ladyfest Bay Area, and The Vagina Monologues. Serano's work has appeared in Bitch magazine's BITCHFest, Clamor, Kitchen Sink, The Believer, The San Francisco Chronicle, and on Invisible Ink Radio (NPR). Julia lives in the Bay Area.