TransForming Gender: Transgender Practices of Identity, Intimacy and Care
Policy Press, Bristol
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In TransForming gender Hines examines paradigmatic shifts in UK legislation and social policy affecting transgender people in contemporary society. Based on an original study of transgender identity formation and practices, the book draws from extensive, empirical accounts of gender transition and identity. Setting out to link social and cultural theory and gender identity formation, the book achieves this and is further successful and significant in two key areas; Hines offers the reader a rare insight into the diversity of gender identities and experiences in the UK and a unique examination of transgender practices of intimacy and care.
The book essentially grapples with three key issues; the first is concerned with apparent increased social and cultural interest in the subject of transgender. Proposing that social, cultural and legislative changes indicate an increased interest in and potential tolerance of some gender diversity. Here Hines examines popular representations of transgender in 'mainstream' television programmes and tabloid newspapers. The second theme 'troubles' the way in which transgender is addressed within social and cultural theory. The third key theme considers 'the relationship between transgender and the theories and politics of social movements that are organised around gender, sexuality and intimacy, and issues of citizenship and recognition' (p.3) It is the latter theme that really sets the book apart from other work in the field and makes for an altogether challenging and absorbing read.
Mostly accessible and clear in tone the book is arranged into eight chapters: (plus comprehensive introductory and concluding chapters) (1) Theorising transgender; (2) Analysing care, intimacy and citizenship; (3) Transgender identities and experiences; (4) Gender identities and feminism; (5) Sexual identities; (6) Partnering and parenting relationships; (7) Kinship and friendship; and (8) Transgender care networks, social movements and citizenship. At the end of each chapter is a very useful summarising paragraph, however, these chapter conclusion could have been further enhanced with suggested readings and/or bullet pointed succinct summaries.
The empirical data is drawn from two research projects conducted by Hines between 2000 and 2005. For these studies thirty participants were selected to participate in two-stage, in-depth interviews; lucid, thoughtful and at times emotionally moving testimonies provide Hines with exceptionally rich data with which to examine her three themes. While clearly contributing to important, theoretical, academic debates about transgender identity positions and the 'embodied practises that often conflict with the ideas of gendered mutability (p.4) possibly surprising, but absolutely pleasing is the 'constant hum' in the background of the 'ordinariness' of her participants; this is a powerful and moving subtext to this absorbing book.
An interesting and important book for academics or practitioners working in the fields of gender studies or social policy, or, anyone interested in contemporary approaches to the sociological analysis of (trans)gender and identity.
Leeds Metropolitan University