HIST 460/560, Winter 2007
Reading and Discussion Questions, Week 9
Joanne Meyerowitz, How Sex Changed (pp. 130-286)
1. What historical role does Meyerowitz give to transsexuals themselves?
2. How does Meyerowitz explain the difference between the numbers of
MTF and FTM transsexuals? What consequences did this difference have
for their experiences in life and their encounters with medicine?
3. How would you characterize the relationship between transsexual patients
and their doctors? Explain the case of A (pp. 159-162) from the point
of view of 1) transsexuals, and 2) doctors.
4. According to the author, what two sexual revolutions reshaped transsexualism
after the Christine Jorgensen case? How were they different?
5. What significance does Meyerowitz attach to both doctors’ and
transsexuals efforts to refine the classifications for people seeking
sex change during the 1960s?
6. What was “liberal” about the liberal moment described
in chapter 6?
7. What developments altered the medical landscape of sex change in
the 1960s? What difference did these make culturally and to individuals
seeking sex reassignment surgery?
8. By 1970, what criteria were used to assess the appropriateness of
surgery for individuals who wanted it? What did these criteria indicate
about both change and continuity in views of the body, gender identity,
and sexual orientation?
9. When and where did self-defined transsexuals begin to form organizations
of their own? What kind of organizations were they? What were their goals?
10. What happened when transsexuals began presenting legal challenges
to courts and judges in the mid-1960s? Why does Meyerowitz believe that
a handful of cases about birth certificates, name changes, marriage licenses,
and passports had broad social significance for all American men and
women? Do you agree?
11. “The liberal position accommodated the requests of the transsexual
petitioner but tried to preserve intact the rest of the legal apparatus
concerning sex differences, gender, and sexuality” (252). Explain.
12. What happened to transsexuality during the 1980s? What changed with
the emergence of a transgender movement in the 1990s? What did the members
of this “next generation” share with Christine Jorgensen?
How did they differ from her?
John Colapinto, “What were the
real reasons behind David Reimer's suicide?”
1. When and why did David Reimer become a famous case in medical and
social debates about the nature and nurture of sex?
2. When and why did John Money and Milton Diamond get involved with
David’s case? What lessons did they extract from it?
3. What does David Reimer’s suicide in 2004 suggest to you about
the history of sex change?