Beyond Trans pushes the conversation on gender identity to its limits: questioning the need for gender categories in the first place. Whether on birth certificates or college admissions applications or on bathroom doors, why do we need to mark people and places with sex categories? Do they serve a real purpose or are these places and forms just mechanisms of exclusion? Heath Fogg Davis offers an impassioned call to rethink the usefulness of dividing the world into not just Male and Female categories but even additional categories of Transgender and gender fluid. Davis, himself a transgender man, explores the underlying gender-enforcing policies and customs in American life that have led to transgender bathroom bills, college admissions controversies, and more, arguing that it is necessary for our society to take real steps to challenge the assumption that gender matters.
He examines four areas where we need to re-think our sex-classification systems: sex-marked identity documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports; sex-segregated public restrooms; single-sex colleges; and sex-segregated sports. Speaking from his own experience and drawing upon major cases of sex discrimination in the news and in the courts, Davis presents a persuasive case for challenging how individuals are classified according to sex and offers concrete recommendations for alleviating sex identity discrimination and sex-based disadvantage.
For anyone in search of pragmatic ways to make our world more inclusive, Davis’ recommendations provide much-needed practical guidance about how to work through this complex issue. A provocative call to action, Beyond Trans pushes us to think how we can work to make America truly inclusive of all people.
"Both clear-eyed and eye-opening, Beyond Trans challenges all of us—gender-nonconforming and cisgender, trans and gender-conforming, individuals and organizations—to ask ourselves why and how we are using sex classifications, what harm they might be doing, and just how they’re even defining ‘sex.’ A provocative and compelling book."
—Joshua Gamson, author of Modern Families: Stories of Extraordinary Journeys to Kinship
"Why—and when—is it important to say whether somebody is a man or a woman? Those are the provocative questions Heath Fogg Davis poses in this informative exploration of gender markers . . . But even more provocative are the questions of how we determine what counts as ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in the first place, and why we imagine there can be only two genders. This is a great book for students and specialists alike who are interested in the profound transformation of gender we are all experiencing in the early twenty-first century."
—Susan Stryker, co-editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly and author of Transgender History
“In this important and original book, Davis argues that most bureaucracies should get out of the business of administering sex by classifying people as Female or Male. Drawing on a number of case studies, including identity documents, bathroom bills, college admissions, and sex-testing for athletes, Davis shows most policies for sex classification are not rationally related to legitimate government interests. Drawing on a range of literatures and methods, including critical race scholarship, feminist theory, auto-ethnography, and doctrinal legal analysis, Beyond Trans is applied political theory at its best.”
—Paisley Currah, co-editor, TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly
"In a lively and accessible style, Davis questions the administrative and social practices of labeling individuals’ sex or gender solely in correspondence with the binary categories of female or male. He challenges the validity of sex-identifying documents and sex-segregated facilities or institutions—even competitive sports—as solutions to privacy, safety, or equality. This is a thought-provoking and highly relevant subject, perfect for today’s political and cultural debates."
—Jamison Green, author of Becoming a Visible Man
"Davis challenges readers to consider why binary sex identity categories are used so pervasively in our everyday lives, and whether such routine categorization is needed . . . 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."
—Starred Publishers Weekly
"This highly recommended work offers clear, real-world discussions of issues facing transgender people, along with practical applications and solutions."
—Starred Library Journal
"Davis argues that current precedent that restricts discriminating against people on the basis of gender could be used to challenge laws or practices that discriminate against people perceived as falling outside the gender binary. More broadly, we can all work toward a change in perspective. Demanding that people conform to stereotypes of masculinity or femininity does everybody harm. So instead of trying to fit more people into society’s preexisting categories, we might try rethinking whether we need those categories at all."
"Reading Beyond Trans is like having one’s window shades thrown open after arising from a long night of sleep: the sunlight burns the eyes, but it awakens them . . . Beyond Trans features accessible, clear prose and direct argumentation. Anyone with an interest in trans rights and the public application of gender theory would benefit from Davis’ book. Beyond Trans is as much a call to remediate the harm done to trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals as it is a plea for good reasoning."
"We will soon be reading books that are truly new, indeed revolutionary, in arguing that the future of gender will be the end of gender binaries altogether. How can future writers debate ‘essential sex differences’ when there are more than two sexes, or when some women and men who choose to become the other, and when some people want to be both – or neither? Heath Fogg Davis’s Beyond Trans: Does gender matter?, one of the first among many that I am sure are in the pipeline, invites readers to question why we care so much about labels and categories on drivers’ licences, passports and bathroom doors, and in sports and schools."
—Times Literary Supplement
"[R]efreshing. Davis situates the struggle for transgender dignity and rights squarely within the larger framework of personal freedom and privacy concerns, and shows how removing institutional barriers to living beyond the gender binary can help everyone live fuller, freer lives."
"A refreshingly intersectional perspective on sex identity . . . takes a perhaps seemingly singular topic and makes it approachable through passionate and relevant analysis of modern issues. Davis time and again shows the importance of understanding transgender rights as a matter of all rights, and does so in a challenging, memorable, and accessible way."
"Davis's book is the quintessential transgender issue primer."
"Davis constantly challenges the value of forcing people to adhere to a binary, successfully arguing that the problems far outweigh the benefits."
"Davis’s solution-oriented Beyond Trans is a necessary voice in current debates about the administration of sex and transgender identity. From the infamous bathroom bills to cis citizens’ objection to financing the medical expenses of trans military personnel (the specter of which Donald Trump backhandedly invoked during his transgender ban tweets), to women’s colleges determining that sex-segregation and defining the boundaries of womanhood were necessary to a feminist project of education, Davis’s book offers applicable solutions and applies the knowledge gained from the positionality of trans, intersex, and non-binary viewpoints."
—Los Angeles Review of Books
"Readers may not agree with all of Davis's conclusions, but his method of discerning rational relationships provides a helpful way to create conversations about whether a particular instance of sex segregation is legitimate or problematic. It encourages us to become far more reflective about when and why we believe sex needs to be marked and managed."
“In another major book about our current gender moment, Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? Heath Fogg Davis, a professor of political science at Temple University and a transgender man, makes the argument that the modern trans rights movement shouldn’t be so heavily invested in integrating trans and gender-nonconforming people into our existing gendered institutions. Instead, Davis suggests, we should use the so-called ‘transgender tipping point’ to explode our bureaucratic definitions of gender altogether.”
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