Off Brand Review: Beyond Trans: Does Gender Matter? by Heath Fogg Davis

Goes beyond transgender to question the need for gender classification.

Beyond Trans pushes the conversation on gender identity to its limits: questioning the need for gender categories in the first place. Whether on birth certificates or college admissions applications or on bathroom doors, why do we need to mark people and places with sex categories? Do they serve a real purpose or are these places and forms just mechanisms of exclusion? Heath Fogg Davis offers an impassioned call to rethink the usefulness of dividing the world into not just Male and Female categories but even additional categories of Transgender and gender fluid. Davis, himself a transgender man, explores the underlying gender-enforcing policies and customs in American life that have led to transgender bathroom bills, college admissions controversies, and more, arguing that it is necessary for our society to take real steps to challenge the assumption that gender matters.

He examines four areas where we need to 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. Speaking from his own experience and drawing upon major cases of sex discrimination in the news and in the courts, Davis presents a persuasive case for challenging how individuals are classified according to sex and offers concrete recommendations for alleviating sex identity discrimination and sex-based disadvantage.

For anyone in search of pragmatic ways to make our world more inclusive, Davis’ recommendations provide much-needed practical guidance about how to work through this complex issue. A provocative call to action, Beyond Trans pushes us to think how we can work to make America truly inclusive of all people.

The Meta Details:
Source: Netgalley
Format: eBook
Length: 208 Pages
Publication Date: June 2nd, 2017
Genre: Non-fiction, civil rights, LGBT studies
Content Level: Teens and up
Trigger Warnings: rape, assault, gender inequality, transphobia, racism, sexism, and injustice
Featuring: Bathrooms, birth certificates, passports, driver’s licenses, bus passes, sporting events, and colleges.

Recommended for: Teens and up, but only because I don’t think anyone younger will understand the language. The concepts are still ones important to talk about with every age group
Rating: This was great. Well written, researched, thought out, and executed prompting promising talking points

Ginny Lurcock’s Thoughts: It took me a week to read Beyond Trans because whenever I stole a few moments to read I would inevitably stumble over some fascinating viewpoint and message my feminist sounding board.

And really, I’m not sure if I can give this book higher praise. An easy to jump into case study on sex segregation, sex markers, sex identity and gender expression. I’ve considered ideas that I (as someone who identifies as a cisgendered woman) had never considered before. Not because they don’t make sense, many of them do, but because I’ve never had to.

So while the ideas and conclusions may not always be ideal or easy to enact, while they won’t work for everyone, they did get me thinking and talking. I’m motivated in ways I wish I had been in my youth and provided with examples of a way to go.

I’ve been giving a starting point…

You can also feel that Davis has faced at the hands of TERFs. The radical feminists who believe trans folks are either pandering to privilege or are not entitled to our spaces because they haven’t suffered as AFAB folks have.

The book also highlights how important intersectionality is. That the people most frequently harmed by… everything, life, the whole shebang are not white folks or people who can pass as white, but POC.

Because of these two facts, it is my belief that Beyond Trans does something important to disassemble this harmful and terrifying mentality. It reminds us that unless your equality includes everyone, then it includes no one.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided in exchange for a fair and honest review via Netgalley.

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