Transgender Scholarship Proliferates Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

The late 1990’s saw a rise in the number of scholarly texts exploring gender, transgender, and transsexuality, reflecting an increase in academic interest in transgender issues and the beginning of transgender studies in higher education.

Summary of Event

Women’s studies Women’s studies and queer studies[womens studies] and gay and lesbian studies paved the way for the emergence of the more expansive fields of queer studies and queer theory as areas of academic inquiry in universities and colleges in the 1990’s, but not all scholars or activists were satisfied with how queer studies often neglected to examine transgenderism and transsexuality. Many scholars felt that transgender and transsexual issues and concerns were either enveloped, and subsequently erased, under the umbrella of homosexuality, were labeled complicit in maintaining the male/female binary system for classifying sexed identities, or both. In response, the late 1990’s saw a proliferation of texts centered on transgender and transsexual concerns and the emergence of a new and distinct field of academic investigation called transgender studies. [kw]Transgender Scholarship Proliferates (1998) [kw]Scholarship Proliferates, Transgender (1998) Transgender scholarship Colleges and universities;transgender studies in Queer studies;and transgender studies[transgender studies] Education;transgender studies [c]Transgender/transsexuality;1998: Transgender Scholarship Proliferates[2470] [c]Publications;1998: Transgender Scholarship Proliferates[2470] [c]Cultural and intellectual history;1998: Transgender Scholarship Proliferates[2470] Prosser, Jay Halberstam, Judith Denny, Dallas

The cover of Halberstam’s Female Masculinity (1998).

(Duke University Press)

Jay Prosser’s Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality Second Skins (Prosser) (1998), was the first in-depth study of transsexual autobiography, detailing how narrative and body interact to illuminate transsexual identity. Prosser’s work examines the body Body image, transgender/transsexuality and its borders, critiques poststructuralist theories about the body and its relationship to language, and then presents his own theories of the body as transsexual. He explores and discusses a number of transsexual autobiographies and two well-known works of fiction featuring transgender characters: Radclyffe Hall’s The Well of Loneliness (1928) and Leslie Feinberg’s Stone Butch Blues (1993). Prosser’s work also contains more than thirty photographs of transsexuals.

A variety of other scholarly works that helped to illuminate the numerous and varied facets of transgender studies were published in 1998. Judith “Jack” Halberstam’s book Female Masculinity Female Masculinity (Halberstam) was the first full-length study of its kind. In the book, Halberstam argues that, rather than merely imitating masculine characteristics, female masculinity Masculinity;female constitutes its own unique configuration of various gender identity markers. The book presents a historical analysis of the development of female masculinity, starting with nineteenth century behaviors and progressing to the drag king performances of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. It also includes numerous photos, including portraits, movie stills, and shots from drag king competitions.

Also published in 1998 was the fifth version of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association’s (HBIGDA) Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders, Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders (Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association) Gender Identity Disorders, Standards of Care for (Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association) first published in 1979 (a sixth version was published in 2001). The manual, a guide for mental and medical health professionals who diagnose and treat individuals seeking gender reassignment, explores assessment and treatment for adolescents, psychotherapy, hormone therapy, breast and genital surgery, and post-transition follow up. In a significant development that improved the relationship between transsexuals and medical and other health professionals, the HBIGDA elected transgender and transsexual individuals to its board of directors in 1997.

Dallas Denny, a male-to-female transsexual, edited a collection of essays titled Current Concepts in Transgender Identity Current Concepts in Transgender Identity (Denny) (1998), which explore developments in cultural and social theories about transgender experiences and examine advancements in medical treatment and technology. Essays address topics such as mythology, cross-cultural connections, free expression, cross-dressing, sexual orientation, family therapy, and hormone treatment. In 1994, Denny published Gender Dysphoria: A Guide to Research, Gender Dysphoria (Denny) an extensive bibliography that lists works of fiction and nonfiction, including book chapters, journal articles, and legal cases on what was called “gender dysphoria.”

Also, new academic journals emerged in the late 1990’s, adding to a group of already established academic journals that were beginning to address transgender studies and transgender theories. In 1997, The International Journal of Transgenderism International Journal of Transgenderism, The Transgenderism, International Journal of, The made its debut, focusing on transgender issues and the social sciences. The academic journal GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies[GLQ A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies] published a special edition of its journal on transgenderism, edited and introduced by Susan Stryker. Stryker, Susan Contributors to this issue include Halberstam, C. Jacob Hale, Hale, C. Jacob Cheryl Chase, Chase, Cheryl and Katrina Roen. Roen, Katrina Topics ranged from the role of phenomenology in transgender studies, to questions of embodiment and politics, to mass-media dissemination of information about gender-change technology, to the “border wars” between butch lesbians and female-to-male transsexuals. At least four other academic journals addressed transgenderism in the late 1990’s: Social Text, Journal of Gender Studies, Velvet Light Trap, and Sexualities.


Transgender studies is still developing as a field of critical inquiry in universities and colleges, and its impact is still evolving, even beyond the academy. The increase in transgender scholarship has opened the door not only to more academic studies of gender and sex identity but also to the inclusion of transgender issues in social and political commentary and to transgender civil rights. Transgender scholarship Colleges and universities;transgender studies in Queer studies;and transgender studies[transgender studies] Education;transgender studies

Further Reading
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Denny, Dallas, ed. Current Concepts in Transgender Identity. New York: Garland, 1998.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______. Gender Dysphoria: A Guide to Research. New York: Garland, 1994.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Feinberg, Leslie. Stone Butch Blues: A Novel. Ithaca, N.Y.: Firebrand Books, 1993.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Halberstam, Judith. Female Masculinity. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1998.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Hale, C. Jacob. “Consuming the Living, Dis(re)membering the Dead in the Butch/FTM Borderlands.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 4, no. 2 (April, 1998): 311-328.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association. Standards of Care for Gender Identity Disorders. 6th version. http://www.hbigda .org/soc.htm.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Namaste, Viviane K. Invisible Lives: The Erasure of Transsexual and Transgendered People. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Prosser, Jay. Second Skins: The Body Narratives of Transsexuality. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______. “Skin Memories.” In Thinking Through the Skin, edited by Sara Ahmed and Jackie Stacey. New York: Routledge, 2001.
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Stryker, Susan. The Transgender Issue. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 4, no. 2 (1998).
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">_______, ed. “Transgender Studies: Queer Theory’s Evil Twin.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 10, no. 2 (2004).
  • citation-type="booksimple"

    xlink:type="simple">Wilson, Robin. “Transgendered Scholars Defy Convention, Seeking to be Heard and Seen in Academe.” Chronicle of Higher Education, February 6, 1998.

March 20, 1990: Queer Nation Is Founded

1992: Transgender Nation Holds Its First Protest

March, 2003-December, 2004: Transsexuals Protest Academic Exploitation

November 20, 2003: Transgender Day of Remembrance and Remembering Our Dead Project

Categories: History