Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter?
Heath Fogg Davis. New York Univ, $25 (208p) ISBN 978-1-4798-5540-7
Davis (The Ethics of Transracial Adoption), a professor of political science at Temple University in Philadelphia, challenges readers to consider why binary sex identity categories are used so pervasively in our everyday lives, and whether such routine categorization is needed. Sex-identity discrimination, the author argues, happens to both transgender and cisgender individuals whose appearance is at odds with observers’ beliefs about how masculine and feminine people should look in public, and the routine sorting of individuals into sex identity categories invites discriminatory social and institutional policing of individuals’ sex identities. In four brief chapters, this work examines four common locations of sex-identity sorting: sex markers on identity documents, sex-segregated restrooms, single-sex colleges, and sex-segregated sports. Davis consistently pushes readers to consider whether the practice of sex sorting bears any rational relationship to the goals its proponents claim to further: fighting identity fraud, promoting personal health and safety, addressing sexism in higher education, and encouraging fair play in competitive sports. An appendix offers guidelines for conducting a “gender audit” of organizational policies and practices, encouraging critical self-assessment of everyday acts that unnecessarily invoke sex and gender classifications. The author, a transgender man of color, approaches this topic as both an expert scholar and an individual whose own identity has been subject to hostile scrutiny. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/03/2017