By Julia Serano

A provocative manifesto, Whipping Girl tells the strong tale of Julia Serano, a transsexual lady whose supremely clever writing displays her varied historical past as a lesbian transgender activist biologist. Serano stocks her reports and observations—both pre- and post-transition—to show the ways that worry, suspicion, and dismissiveness towards femininity form our societal attitudes towards trans girls, in addition to gender and sexuality as a whole.

Serano's well-honed arguments stem from her skill to bridge the space among the often-disparate organic and social views on gender. She exposes how deep-rooted the cultural trust is that femininity is frivolous, susceptible, and passive, and the way this “feminine” weak spot exists in basic terms to draw and appease male desire.

In addition to debunking renowned misconceptions approximately transsexuality, Serano makes the case that today's feminists and transgender activist needs to paintings to include and empower femininity—in all of its wondrous types.

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

Example text

In other words, the media’s and audience’s fascination with the feminization of trans women is a by-product of their sexualization of all women. 45 WHIPPING GIRL The Media’s Transgender Gap There is most certainly a connection between the differing values given to women and men in our culture and the media’s fascination with depicting trans women rather than trans men, who were born female but identify as male. 5 Jamison Green, a trans man who authored a 1994 report that led to the city of San Francisco’s decision to extend its civil rights protections to include gender identity, once said this about the media coverage of that event: “Several times at the courthouse, when the press was doing interviews, I stood by and listened as reporters inquired who wrote the report, and when I was pointed out to them as the author I could see them looking right through me, looking past me to find the man in a dress who must have written the report and whom they would want to interview.

In 2003, The Oprah Winfrey Show aired a two-part special on transsexual women and their wives. The entire first episode featured a one-on-one interview with Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of the autobiography She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders. While Oprah Winfrey’s conversation with Boylan was respectful and serious, the show nonetheless opened with predictable scenes of women putting on eye makeup, lipstick, and shoes, and the interview itself was interspersed with “before” pictures of Boylan, as if to constantly remind us that she’s really a man underneath it all.

From my own experience in having transitioned from one sex to the other, I have found that women and men are not separated by an insurmountable chasm, as many people seem to believe. Actually, most of us are only a hormone prescription away from being perceived as the “opposite” sex. Personally, I welcome this idea as a testament to just how little difference there really is between women and men. To believe that a woman is a woman because of her sex chromosomes, reproductive organs, or socialization denies the reality that every single day, we classify each person we see as either female or male based on a small number of visual cues and 51 WHIPPING GIRL a ton of assumption.

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