Should schools, businesses, and non-profits ask us to check gender boxes on bureaucratic forms?
Do we need male and female signs on bathroom doors?
Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? provides practical strategies to help organizations of all kinds and sizes design and implement gender policies that are both trans-inclusive and institutionally smart.
In this book I question the usefulness of dividing the world into not just male and female categories but even additional categories of transgender and non-binary. I draw from legal cases, policy debates, and my own experiences as a biracial (African American and white) transgender man, to explore the underlying policies and customs in American life that have led to transgender bathroom bills, college admissions controversies, and laws banning trans girls and women from participating in female-designated sports. I argue that it’s necessary for our society to take real steps to challenge the assumption that gender matters.
I examine four areas where we should re-think our sex-classification systems:
- sex-marked identity documents such as birth certificates, driver’s licenses and passports
- sex-segregated public restrooms
- single-sex colleges
- and sex-segregated sports
“Davis avoids overly academic language as he provides case studies showing the limitations of sex segregation or sex classification. He argues that there are better methods (and suggests what those might look like) to resolve society’s legitimate need to provide identification papers, collect data, support women, provide safe bathrooms, and encourage competitive sports than insisting on segregating men and women, or expecting all humans to conform with binary gender expectations.”
Recommended as a MUST-READ Book by Newsweek
“Davis constantly challenges the value of forcing people to adhere to a binary, successfully arguing that the problems far outweigh the benefits.”
“Davis’s tremendous efforts in Beyond Trans makes for both an exceptionally readable and engaging political salvo, and one immensely useful beyond the halls of academia.”
—LA Review of Books
“We will soon be reading books that are truly new, indeed revolutionary, in arguing that the future of gender will be the end of gender binaries altogether. How can future writers debate ‘essential sex differences’ when there are more than two sexes, or when some women and men who choose to become the other, and when some people want to be both – or neither? Heath Fogg Davis’s Beyond Trans: Does gender matter?, one of the first among many that I am sure are in the pipeline, invites readers to question why we care so much about labels and categories on drivers’ licenses, passports and bathroom doors, and in sports and schools.”
—Times Literary Supplement
“Refreshing. Davis situates the struggle for transgender dignity and rights squarely within the larger framework of personal freedom and privacy concerns, and shows how removing institutional barriers to living beyond the gender binary can help everyone live fuller, freer lives.”
“In another major book about our current gender moment, Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? Heath Fogg Davis, a professor of political science at Temple University and a transgender man, makes the argument that the modern trans rights movement shouldn’t be so heavily invested in integrating trans and gender-nonconforming people into our existing gendered institutions. Instead, Davis suggests, we should use the so-called ‘transgender tipping point’ to explode our bureaucratic definitions of gender altogether.”
“Reading Beyond Trans is like having one’s window shades thrown open after a long night of sleep: The sunlight burns the eyes, but it awakens them…Beyond Trans features accessible, clear prose and direct argumentation. Anyone with an interest in trans rights and the public application of gender theory would benefit from Davis’ book. Beyond Trans is as much a call to remediate the harm done to trans, intersex, and gender non-conforming individuals as it is a plea for good reasoning.”
2017 Summer Reading List: Books to Take to the Beach
“This highly recommended work offers clear, real-world discussions of issues facing transgender people, along with practical applications and solutions. It will be useful to academics, policymakers, and general readers.”
—Starred Library Journal
“Davis challenges readers to consider why binary sex identity categories are used so persuasively in our everyday lives, and whether such routine categorization is needed…The author, a transgender man of color, approaches this topic both as an expert and an individual whose own identity has been subject to hostile scrutiny.”
—Starred Publishers Weekly
“Davis’s book is the quintessential transgender issue primer.”
“A refreshingly intersectional perspective on sex identity . . . takes a perhaps seemingly singular topic and makes it approachable through passionate and relevant analysis of modern issues. Davis time and again shows the importance of understanding transgender rights as a matter of all rights, and does so in a challenging, memorable, and accessible way.”
“Readers may not agree with all of Davis’s conclusions, but his method of discerning rational relationships provides a helpful way to create conversations about whether a particular instance of sex segregation is legitimate or problematic. It encourages us to become far more reflective about when and why we believe sex needs to be marked and managed.”
“Davis argues that current precedent that restricts discriminating against people on the basis of gender could be used to challenge laws or practices that discriminate against people perceived as falling outside the gender binary. More broadly, we can all work toward a change in perspective. Demanding that people conform to stereotypes of masculinity or femininity does everybody harm. So instead of trying to fit more people into society’s preexisting categories, we might try rethinking whether we need those categories at all.”
“Why—and when—is it important to say whether somebody is a man or a woman? Those are the provocative questions Heath Fogg Davis poses in this informative exploration of gender markers….But even more provocative are the questions of how we determine what counts as ‘man’ and ‘woman’ in the first place, and why we imagine there can be only two genders. This is a great book for students and specialists alike who are interested in the profound transformation of gender we are all experiencing in the early twenty-first century.”
— Susan Stryker, co-editor of TSQ: Transgender Studies Quarterly and author of Transgender History
“In a lively and accessible style, Davis questions the administrative and social practices of labeling individuals’ sex or gender solely in correspondence with the binary categories of female or male. He challenges the validity of sex-identifying documents and sex-segregated facilities or institutions—even competitive sports—as solutions to privacy, safety, or equality. This is a thought-provoking and highly relevant subject, perfect for today’s political and cultural debates.”