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The Lives of Transgender People Paperback – November 15, 2011

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The Lives of Transgender People + Transgender 101: A Simple Guide to a Complex Issue + The Transgender Child: A Handbook for Families and Professionals
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 248 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (November 15, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0231143079
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231143073
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.5 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #554,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


This book's greatest strengths are twofold: it outlines a wide diversity of gender identities that step outside of previous identity markers, including the experiences of young genderqueer people, and it contributes to research on trans people, which has been very out of date.

(Arlene Istar Lev, University of Albany, School of Social Welfare, and Choices Counseling and Consulting)

The authors have done an excellent job of using up-to-date references and the text is reflective of current trends.

(Gerald P. Mallon, Hunter College School of Social Work, City University of New York, and author of Social Work Practice with Transgender and Gender Variant Youth)

With their substantial empirical study, Genny Beemyn and Susan R. Rankin have accomplished what no other research has managed to do: through numerical analysis and narrative, they have represented the diversity of transgender people, explored in depth the range of experiences of these communities, and described the challenges many of us face. The Lives of Transgender People is an invaluable reference for researchers, activists, and policymakers.

(Paisley Currah, Brooklyn College, City University of New York)

The Lives of Transgender People breaks new ground.

(The Empty Closet)

...this book serves as an excellent resource for those wishing to know more about transgender experiences, as well as those endeavoring to highlight the challenges these communities continue to face in everyday life.

(GLAAD Blog)

Lives will be a rich source of data for activists, theorists, and policymakers, as well as one possible model for doing research on sex and gender that allows us to collect meaningful data without depending on the binary male/female, man/woman dichotomies that continue to unhelpfully reduce the variety of human experience to the inflexible straightjackets of innate gender difference.

(Feminist Librarian Blog)

About the Author

Genny Beemyn, the director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is a leading expert on the experiences of transgender people in the United States and on the development of transgender-inclusive college policies and practices. A gender nonconforming individual, Dr. Beemyn has published and spoken extensively on the needs of transgender students, and hir publications include Creating a Place for Ourselves: Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Community Histories and Queer Studies: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Anthology.

Susan (Sue) Rankin is an associate professor at The Pennsylvania State University and a senior research associate at the Center for the Study of Higher Education. She has presented and published widely on the impact of sexism, racism, genderism, and heterosexism in the academy and intercollegiate athletics. Her recent publications include the 2010 State of Higher Education for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People and Our Place on Campus: Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Services and Programs in Higher Education.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By David N. Parker VINE VOICE on December 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
There are few surprises in this report for those of us who have been allies or activists for many years, but this book is the best I have seen so far to help those outside our community understand transgender at least a little better. It should be required reading in all gender studies courses.
Fortunately, the authors use the term transgender in it's broadest meaning. One surprising result of their study is expressed as follows: "In our survey, respondents offered more than a hundred different descriptions for their gender identity besides the traditional categories of men, women, and transgender." Many, or perhaps most, of these unique categories are somewhere under the relatively new category genderqueer.
This is the most difficult of all for those of us who have spent much of our lives in a binary world. We understand male and female. We may even understand transition from female to male or male to female, although it may be outside our personal experience. It is the hundreds of "in-between" genders that are difficult to understand. If you share this puzzlement, "Nina Here Nor There" by Nick Krieger (available at is an outstanding book by a transgender writer whose experience places them firmly in the genderqueer category somewhat on the male side of the middle between male and female.
Authors Beemyn and Rankin do a pretty good job of explaining this category through exposition and anecdotal segments quoted from survey participants. The size of their survey group (about 3500 respondents) provides a higher statistical probability to their conclusions. The breadth of their survey - incorporating diversity in gender, ethnicity, race, and religion - further validates that transgender is endemic to all populations.
I heartily recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand the path our transgender friends have taken - or will take - in their lives.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mary Lavers on May 7, 2012
Format: Hardcover
When Geeny Beemyn and Susan Rankin set out to conduct a study of transgender people in the United States, they did something most people writing about transgender never do: they listened. They invited thousands of people to participate in surveys and to "self-identify," whether it was as transgender, transvestite, genderqueer, androgyne, drag queen or any other variation that described a gender identity other than binary male or female and in keeping with the gender one was assigned at birth. They also included people who used to identify as transgender but no longer did (as in the case of MTF or FTM transgenders who no longer identified as transgender after gender reassignment).
By casting a wide net and allowing people to self-identify, the authors include voices often not heard in other studies, particularly among young people. It doesn't hurt that at least one of the authors also identifies as a member of the transgender community herself.

For more, please visit my blog, CozyLittleBookJournal.

Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from the publisher from NetGalley. I was not obliged to write a favourable review, or even any review at all. The opinions expressed are strictly my own.
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Format: Kindle Edition
The authors Beemyn and Rankin present results of their exhaustive research in an understandable way. It shows there is no single way of being transgender but many. Since transpeople are relatively few, the lives of transgender people rely greatly on the awareness of the cisgendered. Their work would undoubtedly raise awareness in the population if widely read. Spread the word.
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