cover image Gender Blending

Gender Blending

. Prometheus Books, $42.98 (525pp) ISBN 978-1-57392-124-4

A compendium of papers presented at a recent symposium sponsored by California State University's Center for Sex Research, this open-minded exploration of cross-dressing, transsexualism and cross-gender behavior bills itself as ""a scholarly version of Stonewall."" Combining research reports, case histories, personal narratives and manifestos, this eye-opening survey searchingly delves into trans-gender phenomena across centuries and cultures, from Joan of Arc to Native American peoples to present-day Brazil, Indonesia, Costa Rica and the U.S. The academic authors provide unusually thorough coverage of coming out, counseling, health care, the legal system, political activism and how the world's religions regard cross-gender behavior. Certain essays, however, border on the nonsensical; for instance, one academic argues that Wagner's fondness for fabrics, frills and dressing gowns is indicative of the androgyny permeating his music, while another writer concludes, on the basis of extremely slender archeological evidence, that pharaoh Akhenaten's alleged trans-gender identity led him to formulate revolutionary monotheism. Sexologist Vern Bullough is visiting professor at the University of Southern California, where the late Bonnie Bullough was a professor of nursing; Elias teaches sex therapy at California State. (Mar.)