Cover via Amazon
Welcome to (a belated, sorry about that) April, everyone! Lets talk about one of my favorite books of all time!
Why Whipping Girl?
Well, to put it succinctly, I recommended that Whipping Girl be included in the Feminist Classics Project because it changed my entire understanding of the intersection of feminism, femininity, and trans identities. This book is kiiiind of a big deal to me and the prospect of discussing it with the fabulous FCP participants was too enticing to resist. (Don’t you love when I pander?)
There are two books I recommend to anyone who is interested in learning more about being transgender: Sex Changes: Transgender Politics by Patrick Califia and Whipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity by Julia Serano. I read both books for the first time in 2007, while I was living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, and struggling to understand my ex-girlfriend’s recent announcement that he was a trans man. While Sex Changes helped me understand more about what this whole trans thing actually meant (that book includes a chapter where Califia compares and contrasts two of my favorite books of all time, Stone Butch Blues by Leslie Feinberg and S/He by Minnie Bruce Pratt, and oh boy, is it dreamy), Whipping Girl was able to help me connect my understanding of feminism and my personal experience as a cisgender, femme-identified queer person with trans identities. It was… mind-blowing.
So no pressure or anything to enjoy this book, people. You may not agree with every argument (or most arguments), but I can promise that Whipping Girl will make you think and will challenge your understanding of feminism.
About Julia Serano
Julia Serano is an Oakland, California-based writer, spoken word performer, trans activist, and biologist. Julia is the author ofWhipping Girl: A Transsexual Woman on Sexism and the Scapegoating of Femininity (Seal Press, 2007), a collection of personal essays that reveal how misogyny frames popular assumptions about femininity and shapes many of the myths and misconceptions people have about transsexual women. Her other writings have appeared in anthologies (including Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and A World Without Rape, BITCHfest: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine and Word Warriors: 30 Leaders in the Women’s Spoken Word Movement) and in magazines and websites such as Bitch, AlterNet.org, Out, Feministing.com, Clamor, Kitchen Sink, make/shift, other, LiP and Transgender Tapestry. In recent years, Julia has gained noteriety in transgender, queer, and feminist circles for her unique insights into gender. She has been invited to speak about transgender and trans women’s issues at numerous univerisites, at queer, women’s studies, psychology and philosophy-themed conferences, and her writings have been used as teaching materials in college- and graduate-level gender studies, queer theory, human sexuality and psychology courses across the North America.
Discussion Questions: Introduction & Trans Woman Manifesto
1. The Introduction begins with a quote from the amazing Audre Lorde: ” If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive.” Can you find a way that this quote could apply to your own experience, either with feminism or as a member of a sexist society?
2. Whipping Girl introduced a new phrase to the feminist lexicon: “trans-misogyny” (p. 15). What are some examples of trans-misogyny that you’ve witnessed?
3. What do you hope to learn or explore within Whipping Girl? What are your initial impressions of the book? What are your expectations for the essays?