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)Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininityby Julia Serano
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 observationsboth pre- and post-transitionto reveal the ways in which fear,/i>… See more details below
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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 observationsboth pre- and post-transitionto 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 femininityin all of its wondrous forms.
“It's official: Whipping Girl is a 21st century feminist classic. It’s also a gift to a culture (still) struggling to face its own misogyny. Serano's writing is clear, gracious, and incredibly illuminating.”
"Serano's thinking continues to challenge and delightWhipping Girl is a foundational text that will prove to be timeless.”
"Having only just come out as Transgender, I was taken by a friend to a bookstore and told to buy Whipping Girl immediately. As I read, the revelation dawned on me that experiencing my gender could be full of self-empowerment and liberation as opposed to the fear and shame I had already spent a lifetime living with. Not only was this book a light in the dark for someone jumping head-first into transition, it also served as an essential tool to pass on to family and friends to help them to better understand what it means to be Trans. I'm forever thankful for this book and its author.”
Laura Jane Grace
"Julia Serano is the wise, acerbic brain at the center of the transgender movement. The original edition of Whipping Girl forever connected trans theory to feminism and queer studies; this new edition updates that work as well as providing a compelling new preface that reflects the movement’s enormous progress as well as the progress that remains to be made. Julia Serano is more than a brilliant writer and theorist; she’s also a tremendously compassionate, humane woman whose work has enlarged the lives of all her readers. Urgent, contentious, generous, and brilliant.”
Jennifer Finney Boylan, Author of She’s Not There, and Writer in Residence at Barnard College of Columbia University
"Julia Serano did not invent transfeminism, but she's done more to promote its ideas and demonstrate its necessity than any other writer. Her analysis of the misogyny at the root of transphobia is vital. This book should be taught in every introduction to gender and women's studies class in the countryread it, teach it, learn from it, and act on it."
Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History and Director, University of Arizona Institute for LGBT Studies
Praise for the first edition:
“Serano takes to task those who categorize “femininity” as artificial rather than a natural gender expression. Her convincing analysis and personal revelations challenge us to recognize our own sexist notions.”
"Julia Serano offers a perspective sorely needed, but up until now rarely heard." Bitch Magazine
"An absorbing and essential achievement in both theory and biography.” Washington City Paper
"Whipping Girl critiques media depictions of trans people, dismantles science’s longtime characterization of transsexuality as pathology, and offers a whip-smart vision of a world that celebrates sexual difference.” AlterNet
"Julia Serano is a careful and astute critic of the ways that trans women have been stereotyped and dismissed in popular culture, feminism, and psychology, and she repeatedly surprised me with her razor-sharp observations of the pervasive hatred of trans women and all differently gendered people. This is an important text for gender studies classes, as well as for therapists, journalists, and anybody who’d like to keep updated as a sex radical.”
Patrick Califia, author of Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism
“The demonization of femininity within feminist thought has been a longtime bummer. Here comes Julia Serano, armed with a killer intellect, ample humor, and fantastic personal knowledge to rid our beloved feminism of some misguided conclusions, making it a safer place for all of us. We desperately need this book.”
Michelle Tea, author of Rose of No Man’s Land and Chelsea Whistle
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Meet the Author
Julia Serano is an Oakland, California-based writer, performer, activist, and biologist. She is best known for her 2007 book, Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity, which garnered rave reviewsThe Advocate placed it on their list of Best Non-Fiction Transgender Books,” and readers of Ms. Magazine ranked it #16 on their list of the 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of All Time.” Her second full-length book, Excluded: Making Feminist and Queer Movements More Inclusive, was a Publishing Triangle finalist for the 2013 Judy Grahn Award for Lesbian Nonfiction. Julia’s writings have appeared in over a dozen anthologies, and in magazines and news outlets such as the Guardian, the Daily Beast, AlterNet.org, The Advocate, Out, Bitch, and Ms. Magazine.
Serano's understanding of biology (she has a PhD in Biochemistry from Columbia University and worked as a researcher at UC Berkeley for seventeen years) along with her life experiences as a transgender woman give her a unique perspective on gender and sexism, and her writings have been used as teaching materials in gender and queer studies, sociology, and psychology courses across North America. Visit her website at juliaserano.com.
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I've read quite a few books on being trans, trying to figure myself out, but this is the first one I've ever read that really made me think this could be me. I love that the author's story is not conventional, and her theories about the difference between gender identity and inner sex are on point. Of course the book's primary purpose is to relate ideas about feminism in terms specifically about oppositional sexism and transmisogyny affect transpersons and the public in general. While these concepts aren't necessarily novel in and of themselves this is the first thing I've ever read that made feminism relevant to my life and easily could explain everything I've felt and seen in my own life. Highly recommended.