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Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender [Paperback]

Vern L. Bullough , Bonnie Bullough
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

January 1, 1993 0812214315 978-0812214314

In any society, the perception of femininity and masculinity is not necessarily dependent on female or male genitalia. Cross dressing, gender impersonation, and long-term masquerades of the opposite sex are commonplace throughout history.

In contemporary American culture, the behavior occurs most often among male heterosexuals and homosexuals, sometimes for erotic pleasure, sometimes not. In the past, however, cross dressing was for the most part practiced more often by women than men. Although males often burlesqued women and gave comic impersonations of them, they rarely attempted a change of public gender until the twentieth century. This phenomenon, according to Vern L. Bullough and Bonnie Bullough, has implications for any understanding of the changing relationships between the sexes in the twentieth century.

In most Western societies, being a man and demonstrating masculinity is more highly prized than being a woman and displaying femininity. Some non-Western societies, however, are more tolerant and even encourage men to behave like women and women to act like men. Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender not only surveys cross dressing and gender impersonation throughout history and in a variety of cultures but also examines the medical, biological, psychological, and sociological findings that have been presented in the modern scientific literature. This volume offers the results of the authors' research into contemporary gender issues and the search for explanations. After examining the various current theories regarding cross dressing and gender impersonation, the Bulloughs offer their own theory.

This book, widely deemed a classic in its field, is the culmination of thirty years of research by the Bulloughs into gender impersonation and cross dressing. Their groundbreaking findings will be of interest to anyone involved in the debate over nature versus nurture, and have implications not only for scholars in the various social sciences and sex and gender studies, but for educators, nurses, physicians, feminists, gays, lesbians, and general readers. This work will be of more personal interest to anyone who identifies as a transvestite or transsexual or who has been classified by medical and psychiatric professionals as suffering from gender dysphoria.

Cross Dressing, Sex, and Gender covers a wide range of cultures and periods. As the first comprehensive attempt to examine the phenomenon of cross dressing, it will be of interest to students and scholars of social history, sociology, nursing, and women's studies.

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Editorial Reviews


"For all scholars of psychology and sexuality, as well as the literate general public, historian Vern Bullough and nurse Bonnie Bullough have done an invaluable service in providing an overview of the phenomenon of cross-dressing. . . . This book is an important resource."—Contemporary Psychology

"[The book] synthesizes a vast array of original texts into a coherent picture of how culture structures gender and sexuality, even in its more uncommon forms. . . . An excellent addition to our understanding of these phenomena and a worthwhile resource for scholars, clinicians, and educators interested in sexuality and gender. The book should also prove very helpful to those struggling to understand these urges and behavior in themselves or in someone close to them."—Journal of Sex Education and Therapy

"With so much media interest . . . the publication of this book is timely. . . . It is extremely accessible and clearly structured. Every example is extensively and usually primarily referenced. The authors aspire to accuracy. . . . They demonstrate to the reader that gender-bending and blending is nothing new."—Journal of Gender Studies

"Painstakingly referenced and indexed, the book is a valuable resource for scholars and others interested in tracing gender-related phenomena through time. . . . An invaluable scholarly contribution."—Nursing History Review

About the Author

Vern L. Bullough is SUNY Distinguished Professor in History and Social Studies at the State University of New York and in the School of Nursing at the State University of New York. Bonnie Bullough is Professor in the School of Nursing at the State University of New York. The Bulloughs have coauthored a number of books on various aspects of sex and gender, including Contraception: A Guide to Birth Control Methods and Women and Prostitution. Both have also written extensively, sometimes together and other times individually, on the issues of sex and gender, health care, and the history of science, medicine, and nursing.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: University of Pennsylvania Press (January 1, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812214315
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812214314
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #164,029 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gender 501 August 4, 2001
By A Customer
This book might be a textbook for a first level graduate course in gender variance. If you've already read a lot on the subject, this book will help you to organize your thoughts (and your library). It's a wonderful survey, both from a historical standpoint and from a cross-cultural standpoint. There is also a critical, but sensible, review of the various biological, psychological and sociological explanations of gender variance. The authors suggest that no one explanation suffices; this book was written in 1993 and although a lot has been learned since then, I would guess that they would draw the same conclusion today if they were preparing a second edition. Which I hope they are! Either way, they also argue that gender variance is not a disease (but we already knew that, didn't we!) unless it causes other problems in the life of a particular individual. Although I have described this book as a "textbook", it isn't at all dry, musty and academic. There are endnotes for each chapter which you can reference for aditional reading, and rather than a bibliography the final chapter is the authors' well-thought out list of recommendations for additional reading. Because they tell you why they selected these books, you will find their recommendations very useful. An unusual book---a great textbook and a great read!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sexological history of cross dressing February 4, 2003
A marvelous read that goes well into the sexological depths of cross dressing. It resists a disease model approach discussion of gender variance and gives a more interdisciplinary account. Since the authors have been providing great contributions to the field of transgender studies for so long, they are easily able to provide historical analyses of cross dressing, sex and gender that are rivetting.
This is but one of the amazing texts in their treasure trove. It can easily be read by both scholars and a general reader since it is so accessible and well written.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My feelings December 18, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Everything I thought it would be and more. Was very close to the things I went thru And helped me not feel alone.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book! March 18, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
It's a book that everyone should read. Well written and with lots of historical facts and current ones as well.
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4.0 out of 5 stars 8 REASONS FOR CROSS-DRESSING October 1, 2010
Vern L. Bullough & Bonnie Bullough
Cross Dressing, Sex, & Gender

(Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1993)
(Library of Congress call number: HQ77.B785 1993)

This is a comprehensive book on cross-dressing
from mythological times into the early 1990's.
Every reason for cross-dressing is included:
1. transsexualism; 2. homosexuality; 3. heterosexual sex-scripts;
4. theater; 5. stage impersonation of the other sex;
6. lesbians who wanted to 'marry' other women;
7. women who wanted the advantages of living as men;
8. drag queen prostitutes.

Once the various reasons for dressing in the clothes of the other sex
are better understood and distinguished from one another,
greater clarity will emerge.
For the present, this may be the best comprehensive book.
No general theory of cross-dressing is offered.
This book basically reports the history of cross-dressing.

Discover other books in this Internet bibliography:
"Cross-Dressing Bibliography".

James Leonard Park.
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