Histories of the Transgender Child

Julian Gill-Peterson. Univ. of Minnesota, $24.95 trade paper (288p) ISBN 978-1-5179-0467-8
University of Pittsburgh professor Gill-Peterson’s scholarly intersectional review of the 20th-century history of trans children, both their lived experience and how medicine treated them and conceptualized sex and gender, puts the lie to the idea that trans children are a new phenomenon. Drawing on the records of such institutions as the Brady Urological Institute and Gender Identity Clinic at Johns Hopkins Hospital, the Harriet Lane Home, and the Gender Identity Research Clinic at UCLA, Gill-Peterson tracks the changes in the medical understanding of sex, medical treatments for trans people, and the social rise of gender as a concept distinct from sex, but still defined as binary. Gill-Peterson also brings to light first- and secondhand accounts of the experience and self-understanding of patients retrospectively understood as trans, including fascinating correspondence between trans teens and doctors. This analysis highlights the racial elements of medical concepts surrounding sex and gender, and the stark differences in the care received by white children, who made up the majority of those treated in gender clinics, and black children, who were often labeled deviant and shunted into psychiatric facilities. This work fills a gap in queer history; older trans, intersex, and nonbinary people who work through the dense, theoretical prose may find their experiences reflected in Gill-Peterson’s history, and younger ones may discover that the author's “uncovering of a century of untold stories” provides a tether to an underexplored legacy. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/27/2018
Release date: 10/01/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 288 pages - 978-1-5179-0466-1
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