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Self-Made Men

Identity and Embodiment among Transsexual Men

Henry Rubin

Publication Year: 2003

In Self-Made Men, Henry Rubin explores the production of male identities in the lives of twenty-two FTM transsexuals--people who have changed their sex from female to male. The author relates the compelling personal narratives of his subjects to the historical emergence of FTM as an identity category.  In the interviews that form the heart of the book, the FTMs speak about their struggles to define themselves and their diverse experiences, from the pressures of gender conformity in adolescence to being mistaken for "butch lesbians," from hormone treatments and surgeries to relationships with families, partners, and acquaintances. Their stories of feeling betrayed by their bodies and of undergoing a "second puberty" are vivid and thought-provoking. Throughout the interviews, the subjects' claims to having "core male identities" are remarkably consistent and thus challenge anti-essentialist assumptions in current theories of gender, embodiment, and identity. Rubin uses two key methods to analyze and interpret his findings. Adapting Foucault's notions of genealogy, he highlights the social construction of gender categories and identities. His account of the history of endocrinology and medical technologies for transforming bodies demonstrates that the "family resemblance" between transsexuals and intersexuals was a necessary postulate for medical intervention into the lives of the emerging FTMs. The book also explores the historical emergence of the category of FTM transsexual as distinguished from the category of lesbian woman and the resultant “border disputes” over identity between the two groups. Rubin complements this approach with phenomenological concepts that stress the importance of lived experience and the individual's capacity for knowledge and action. An important contribution to several fields, including sociology of the body, gender and masculinity, human development, and the history of science, Self-Made Men will be of interest to anyone who has seriously pondered what it means to be a man and how men become men.

Published by: Vanderbilt University Press

Cover

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Contents

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p. vii

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Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-xi

This book has taken many shapes on its way to this, the final version.Though I alone am responsible for this version, I thank the countless eyes that read each successive draft, in part or in whole, and gave me priceless feedback and endless encouragement. It is to them that I owe what intelligibility I have achieved. Without them, I never would have...

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Introduction

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pp. 1-31

Standing on the podium in her Oscar-night gown, with wispy hair and a slight figure, Hilary Swank was hardly recognizable. Seconds before, she had been a young woman with a bit part past and an attractive husband, Chad Lowe, who carried more name recognition than the nominee herself...

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Chapter 1. The Logic of Treatment

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pp. 33-62

The category of “transsexual” is a relatively recent achievement of culture and not a transhistorical phenomenon. Harry Benjamin, long considered the father of modern transsexualism, writes...

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Chapter 2.Border Wars: Lesbian and Transsexual Identity

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pp. 63-92

Early data on transsexualism indicated that it was an overwhelmingly male disease. By a significant margin, there were more biological males who identified as women than biological females who identified as men. From 1940 to 1970, reports ranged from a two-to-one ratio (Randell 1959) to an eight-to-one ratio (Benjamin 1966). The most...

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Chapter 3. Betrayed by Bodies

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pp. 93-113

In these comments, Ed makes a distinction between himself and butch women based on the specific discomfort he experiences with his female body. Like other FTMs in this study, Ed explains that there are real and empirical...

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Chapter 4.Transsexual Trajectories

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pp. 114-142

The process of becoming an FTM does not end with the early childhood identification of a male self. FTMs may feel like boys from the start, but they still need to formulate a specifically transsexual identity...

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Chapter 5.Always Already Men

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pp. 143-173

James and the other FTMs believe they have always been men, despite their female bodies. In contrast, in the eyes of most non-transsexuals, FTMs are born female and grow up as feminine girls who strangely and without explanation...

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Conclusion

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pp. 175-183

This book has been an account of the life stories of a group of FTMs and also a general meditation on identity. At one level, it is an invitation to become acquainted with the unique difficulties and triumphs of transsexual men. They demonstrate extraordinary ingenuity in order to achieve authenticity and recognition. At another level, this book...

Notes

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pp. 185-195

References

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pp. 197-205

Index

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pp. 207-217


E-ISBN-13: 9780826591739
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826514349
Print-ISBN-10: 0826514340

Page Count: 224
Publication Year: 2003

OCLC Number: 61859551
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Self-Made Men