Male Femaling: A Grounded Theory Approach to Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing

Male Femaling: A Grounded Theory Approach to Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing

Male Femaling: A Grounded Theory Approach to Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing

Male Femaling: A Grounded Theory Approach to Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing

Synopsis

This unique and fascinating book transforms an area of study previously dominated by clinical models to look instead at cross-dressing and sex-changing as a highly variable social process. Based upon years of fieldwork, life history work, qualitative analysis, archival work and contact with several thousand cross-dressers and sex-changers,the book meticulously and systematically develops a theory of 'male femaling' which has major ramifications for both the field of 'transvestism' and 'transsexualism', and for the analysis of sex and gender more generally.

Excerpt

Questionnaires and government forms always seem to include queries about personal identity that make no sense whatever. ‘Please check the proper answer: Race (White, Black, Yellow), Sex (Male, Female), etc.’ Race reduced to one of three or four boxes! What if you are Hawaiian born, with a Spanish/Philippine father and a Japanese/Chinese mother, each of whom in turn had mixed combinations of parents? And the bodies of American ‘Blacks’ are constituted of indeterminate amounts of whiteness, but they are asked to ignore that when filling out the questionnaire. As for sex: the assumption here is that we are either male or female, that all life forms, including the human, come down to just those two classes of beings. Life is scarcely that simple—and my own prejudice is anyhow, then it would be boring—but, on the contrary, is immensely complex. To know just how complicated sexual matters are takes both experience and careful research.

One of the virtues of this systematically ordered and beautifully written account of what are commonly termed ‘transvestite’ and ‘transsexual’ men is that it is based on meticulous research, done by someone who has spent many years in close contact with the people whom he has studied. Rather than rely on distancing research methods, Richard Ekins has used a combination of methods that have brought him into close and greatly varied contact with what he has written about here. He has used not just interviews and documents, but made close observations in a host of sites that give him the data for his analyses.

One of the great virtues of the book is the vividness of that data, some of which he uses as illustrations of analytic commentaries and others which provide extended or focused data that allow for direct analyses. None of those interpretations express moral opinions, either damning or extolling the all too human behaviour about which he is writing. Inevitably you will come away from this book, whatever else your reactions might be, with an appreciation for the enormously varied forms of action that human life takes. Like it or not, condemn it or not, Ekins is saying, that is the way of the world, and he is trying to describe and understand it.

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.