Published by New York University Press on June 6, 2017
Genres: LGBT, Social Issues
Source: I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley for review consideration.
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Goes beyond transgender to question the need for gender classification.
Beyond Trans pushes the conversation on gender identity to its limits: questioning the need for gender categories in the first place. Whether on birth certificates or college admissions applications or on bathroom doors, why do we need to mark people and places with sex categories? Do they serve a real purpose or are these places and forms just mechanisms of exclusion? Heath Fogg Davis offers an impassioned call to rethink the usefulness of dividing the world into not just Male and Female categories but even additional categories of Transgender and gender fluid. Davis, himself a transgender man, explores the underlying gender-enforcing policies and customs in American life that have led to transgender bathroom bills, college admissions controversies, and more, arguing that it is necessary for our society to take real steps to challenge the assumption that gender matters.
He examines four areas where we need to re-think our sex-classification systems: sex-marked identity documents such as birth certificates, driver's licenses and passports; sex-segregated public restrooms; single-sex colleges; and sex-segregated sports. Speaking from his own experience and drawing upon major cases of sex discrimination in the news and in the courts, Davis presents a persuasive case for challenging how individuals are classified according to sex and offers concrete recommendations for alleviating sex identity discrimination and sex-based disadvantage.
For anyone in search of pragmatic ways to make our world more inclusive, Davis' recommendations provide much-needed practical guidance about how to work through this complex issue. A provocative call to action, Beyond Trans pushes us to think how we can work to make America truly inclusive of all people.
When I’m highlighting furiously in the introduction alone, I know things are going to be good! Beyond Trans was fantastic. It’s intersectional, radical, and incredibly thought-provoking. Heath Fogg Davis is a biracial trans man, so set aside any fears of yet another white cisgender person debating trans and non-binary existence. Fogg Davis proposes that removing “bureaucratic administration of sex markers” (whether we’re talking about government-issued IDs or college admissions or sports teams) is the only way to achieve gender equality. When we think along the binary (allowing trans people to change that marker from male to female, female to male) we’re missing the mark. We’re ignoring the root of the problem, and we’re still discriminating against gender nonconforming people who don’t fit in either of those two boxes.
Fogg Davis dismantles the most common reasons and situations in which we think sex markers are necessary. And in the cases where it still might be necessary, he calls for communication and transparency: What information specifically needs to be collected? How are they defining sex/gender? Why is this information being collected? What is it being used for?
Best of all, Fogg Davis doesn’t simply point out the flaws and discriminatory practices when it comes to gender definitions/sex markers and leave it at that. He actually presents tangible solutions, details ways to make those solutions happen, complete with resources for businesses, schools, non-profits, and other entities.
I can’t recommend this book highly enough. It highlights real life experiences of trans and gender nonconforming people to shine a light on the (often subjective) discriminatory gatekeeping that is so prevalent in our society. Beyond Trans is well-written and enjoyable to read, provocative in all the best ways, and encourages readers to stretch their minds.