Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity

Julia Serano

Language: English

Pages: 424

ISBN: 1580056229

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In the updated second edition of Whipping Girl, Julia Serano, a transsexual woman whose supremely intelligent writing reflects her diverse background as a lesbian transgender activist and professional biologist, shares her powerful 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. In this provocative manifesto, 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 activists must work to embrace and empower femininity—in all of its wondrous forms.

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cissexuals are inherently different from one another. But the vastly different ways in which we are perceived and treated by others, and the way those differences impact our unique physical and social experiences, lead many transsexuals to see and understand gender very differently than our cissexual counterparts. And while transsexuals are extremely familiar with cissexual perspectives of gender (as they dominate in our culture), most cissexuals remain largely unfamiliar with trans perspectives.

alienated by the movement in the past. And in chapter 20, “The Future of Queer/Trans Activism,” I show how certain taken-for-granted beliefs and assumptions that are prevalent in contemporary queer and transgender theory and politics ensure that trans women’s perspectives and issues will continue to take a back seat to those of other queers and transgender people. I argue that, rather than focusing on “shattering the gender binary”—a strategy that invariably pits gender-conforming and

further claims that secondary-type transsexuals are “autogynephilic”—essentially men who are attracted to women and who seek sex reassignment because they are turned on by the idea of having female bodies themselves. Despite the fact that the concept of autogynephilia (which was originally coined by fellow gatekeeper Ray Blanchard in the late 1980s) is based on dubious evidence and has never been scientifically substantiated, it also appears in the DSM.35 Of course, anyone who has spent any

sexualize femininity and femaleness in all its forms. While countless feminist writers and theorists have analyzed the ways in which the sexualization of femaleness and femininity permeates virtually every aspect of our culture and has a negative impact on most women’s lives, they have typically ignored the way this tendency creates an environment in which “male femininity” is almost always considered in purely sexual terms. For example, most popular images and impressions of trans women revolve

given that she is referring only to cissexual women. Greer grants these women cissexual privilege when she suggests that they (along with her) are equally entitled to be consulted about whether transsexual women should belong to their sex or not. It is particularly telling that Greer uses the word 167 WHIPPING GIRL “asked” in this context. After all, nobody in our society ever asks for permission to belong to one gender or another; rather, we just are who we are and other people make

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