A Short History of the Roots of Transphobic Science

We need to understand history

I believe that if we are to liberate ourselves from the prejudices of old science, we need to know how we got into this mess in the first place.

Victorian prejudices

It seems to me that the most important historical change causing the stigmatization of trans people is rooted in new ideas about womanhood that arose in the late 19th century.

Curing hysteria

For a humorous look at the Victorian ideas about female sexuality I recommend the British comedy Hysteria from 2011.

The birth of the non-sexual woman

In the Renaissance the idea that decent women were practically non-sexual would have been considered crazy. At that time the dominant idea was that women were the really libidinous ones, while the men were the calm and rational leaders who kept civilization together.

Sin becomes biology

There was another 19th century cultural invention, besides the “unsexualization” of women, that also contributed to the stigmatization of transgender sexuality: Modern medicine now took an interest in the proper sexual behavior of men and women.

Gender variance becomes a mental illness

The “biologization” of sexuality caused transgender fantasies to become a mental disease, as opposed to a sin. Some of the doctors meant well and wanted to help, but the disease paradigm meant that there were only two types of cure for male to female transgender people:

Sex without sex

What all this meant was that sexuality got separated from gender identity.

Feminist fallacy

I am afraid the more recent “post-structuralist” approach of modern feminism, including some gender studies, may have reinforced the divide between sexual desire and gender identity.

Books on the history of sex, gender and transgender



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