Th e Tran svestite an d th e Tr an s sexual: Public Categor ies an d Private
Id entities . By Dave King. Avebury, Alde rshot, England, 1993, 223 pp.,
Reviewed by Anne Bolin , Ph.D.
s 20 years of scholarly re search on male -to-female transsexual
and transve stite ide ntities is the backbone of an impressive inve stigation of
the cultural-hist orical construction of transvestite and transse xual social
ide ntitie s in England. This work is an invaluable contribution to beginning
the proce ss of distinguishing American medical practice s from British ones.
Too often the rubric
circumscribe s sociocultural analysis of the
interaction of clinical sector
client populations and assume s a uniformity
of practice and belie f. King
s work care fully examine s the de velopme nt of
British transse xual and transve stite ide ntities by inte grating information
from the history of British medical conceptions of these ide ntitie s with that
of American medical and subcultural influe nce s.
For those of us studying the social construction of transse xual/trans-
vestite and transge nde red ide ntitie s in America, King has not only docu-
mented the e volution of British gende r variant ide ntitie s but throughout
offers initial comparisons with American research findings. For example ,
my investigation of sociocultural change in American transse xual ide ntitie s
over 16 ye ars re ve als an early dichotomization of male -to-fe male transse x-
ual and male transvestite ide ntitie s along the dime nsion of the surgical con-
ve rsion, followe d by a cultural tre n d towards id e ntity contin uitie s
reproduce d in the burgeoning of ne w ide ntity options and configurations
such as transge nde rism and nonsurgical transse xualism (Bolin, 1988, 1994) .
On the basis of King
s discussion of important sites for ide ntity genesis and
traje ctory, rese arche rs may begin to explain the diffe rences betwee n the
English categorie s and American one s.
Archives of Sexual Behavior, Vol. 27, No . 5, 1998
1998 Pl e num Publish ing Corporation
Department of Sociology, Elon College, E lon Co llege, North Carolina 27244.