FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society Reviews

FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society. Reviewed by Sandra S. Cole, Ph.D., University of Michigan Health Systems Director, Comprehensive Gender Services Program. 1999, The Journal of Sex Research, 36. Pp. 110-113

This publication has been long awaited in the transgender community. It is the first substantial research effort to address the life experiences of female-to-male (FTM) transsexual individuals through oral and written history interviews. While acknowledging the limited demographic composition of the respondents, the relatively small sample size, and weaknesses encountered in the interviewing process, Devor offers the most comprehensive investigation to date of FTM lifespan experiences with family, peers, school, physical health, relationships, gender issues, transsexual identity development, sex and sexuality, and transgender health care and related surgeries. This book captures much of the essence and uniqueness of the FFM journey by presenting a delicate balance of sociological analysis, social perception, facts, style, history, and feminism presented in an easy to read format. The author reveals difficult truths and inspires the need for future study and greater societal humility. Descriptions of the importance of gender sensitive language effectively reminds the reader of societal insensitivity toward language that stigmatizes. This project identifies, describes, and theorizes the life experiences of individuals who initially identify themselves as part of a social category which they perceive as socially incongruous, who then begin the process of redefining their lives in every possible way to be credible and to appear and function as though they originated in that social grouping. The reader gains a deeper appreciation of diversity and greater understanding of their own self.

Historical Perspective

Devor has a keen sense of ancient and recent historical roots pertaining to life experiences and social standards imposed on women, which necessitates the secret existence of FTM individuals. Ancient history reveals that women were thought of as less important, and they were therefore less recorded in social writings. A summary review of the social/religious values of Greek/Roman Classical history, Judaism, early Christianity, and medieval times through the twentieth century prepares the reader to understand the impact made by Christine Jorgenson in the 1950s when, she entered the newsbreaking social stream as the first publicized post-surgical male-to-female transsexual.

Native cultures have always contained third gender or mixed gender individuals, largely based on polytheistic spiritual beliefs. The first contacts in America were in the seventeenth century, although written evidence did not appear until the eighteenth century. Most writings traditionally focused on those classified as “female men.” Wars and industrial technology in the twentieth century placed women in the workplace, only to force them back to domesticity when men returned. During this time inverts,~~ women who partially crossdressed, were identified as lesbians (mannish women), a description which later included feminine women who selected other women as sexual partners. The early work of such scholars and scientists as Krafft-Ebing, Ellis, and Herschfeld mark the emergence of a transgendered presence in the culture.

Although oral and recorded history indicates that the transgender presence has always existed, only in recent history have efforts been made to diagnose and treat this condition. Science has established the differences between men and women and recognized psychological and social influences. There now seems to be an emerging and evolving struggle to discover a biological cause and to medicalize the transsexual condition.

Theories about Transsexualism

Devor is not interested in just the cause of transsexualism, although psychological and biological origins are of great importance. The social context and environment in which transsexualism is experienced is an important focus in understanding the impact and influence that culture, mores, values, and rules of normalcy have on those trying to live their own unique lives. Describing the current structure of society in which transgendered individuals live, Devor states: “At best they represent averages and approximations; at worst they function as rigid delineations which have been forced onto the rich diversity that is human life” (pg. 37). To date, most research on these topics has focused on male-to-female transsexuals (MTF). Devor emphasizes the need to recognize and question how the experiences of FTM individuals might be the same or different from MTF individuals. Because the concept of transsexualism as a public presence has only been acknowledged in any meaningful way since the l950s, it remains virtually unknown and misunderstood in contemporary society. However, theorists agree that persons who claim the title of transsexual have been present through all time and all cultures. The difference today is that medical and surgical technologies are now available to them. A vivid review of existing theories and differences of opinion among researchers and authors gives the reader an aware        ness of the complexity in understanding transsexualism. Stage theories and theoretical models abound and are briefly described, highlighting their similarities and differences, as well as noticing that most apply in concept to MTF. Awareness, information, and comparisons of FTM experiences are fewer and not fully understood. New developments, discoveries, technologies, and social wisdom are still anticipated.

Most theories to date imply that family dynamics and experiences are causal to FTM transsexualism. The psychological theories of transsexualism are discussed in readable terms, highlighting the works of Stoller, Green, Lothstein, Bradley, and Zucker. Most theories described identify grandparents and parents as primary influences in shaping and developing the female child into transgender adulthood and towards sex reassignment surgery. Fathers who are kind to their daughters, who are strongly masculine and aggressive, and who impart 4he message that being female is less than optimal, together with mothers who are unavailable to nurture their daughters, who are unpleasant, vulnerable, weak, or victimized, create the final formula for transsexual transition of the FTM individual from a sociologic and psychologic perspective. A partial personality split at a time of difficulty in self-development within the family is yet another theory.

Biologic theories are also reviewed, exploring genetics, “nature/critical period/nurture,” recent research on homosexuality, twin studies, H-Y antigen status, various brain structures, and hormonal differences. Recent research on developmental determinism is also examined.

Devor suggests that probably no one theory will prevail; that biological causes may be present in some; that in most cases, family dynamics play a large part in development; and most importantly that “transsexualism exists because the natural world thrives on diversity” (pg. 67). She rejects the notion that FTM transsexual individuals are pathologically ill. Reviewing the historical and contemporary perspective and knowledge of transsexualism helps facilitate the reader’s sensitivity to the illustrative and anecdotal personal stories and life truths which constitute a significant part of this publication.

The Developmental Years

In a descriptive delineation of childhood, adolescent and early adult growth and maturational years, and using social theory and research findings as a basis for discussion, Devor carefully illuminates the differences between general gender identity acquisition and the real life experiences of individuals who are FTM gender transitioned. Of particular interest is the information from Devor’s research data which suggests a disproportionate number of participants experienced traumatic family disruption or losses and extreme personal stresses during early years. However, Devor does not imply that these experiences create psychological illnesses, only that they may have influenced the shaping of gender identity for those individuals. This implied difference is critical to contemporary thinking.

Personal testimonies of life experiences as these individuals move through the developmental years of gender formation follow. Devor’s oral histories support previous transsexual theoretical concepts of awareness in early childhood that one’s biologic sex was not desired and, in fact, was not what one wanted to be. This usually coincided with a deep-seated conflict with mother and what she represented to the child. These anecdotes acknowledge feelings of being rejected by mother and turbulence in the family concurrent with awareness of gender conflict, with clear alienation from identification with femininity as the overriding theme. Men and boys in the family served as the true social and cultural role models, even relationships infused with “fear or violence or antagonism.”

Acknowledging that evidence is inconclusive, Devor identifies from this research that familial socialization dynamics strongly influence gender identity dysphoria but, rather than being causal in nature, it may be that families simply respond to an innate predisposition toward masculinity in girls. This research explores and supports the fact that masculine gender behavior is a major influence in choice of friends and activities in relationships beyond the family. The challenging years of adolescence reflect the undeniable experiences of natural changes in the body through puberty and middle and late adolescence, with the combined challenge of acquiring the skills of adulthood and attaining emotional independence. It is generally recognized as a time of insecurity, risk taking, and building adult skills, while learning “to live within the contours of their new bodies.”

Societal expectations of heterosexuality are keenly experienced by adolescent girls, as are increasing pressures toward femininity and away from tomboy activities. Societal pressures mount at this time for masculine-identifled girls, resulting in social punishment such as ridicule, shame, and stigma for not becoming feminine, which in turn create isolation and loneliness.


Detailed descriptions and discussions of vital developmental and physical issues in puberty, friendships, and relationships with adult women and men poignantly reflect the further separation of masculine-identified girls/women from other girls/women and serve to heighten their gender and sex dysphoria. Of particular interest is the depiction and discussion of adolescent sexuality and sexual exploration for the FTM transsexual-identified young girl. Incest, masturbation, heterosexual exploration, homosexual attractions, and major homosexual relationship experiences are presented in the context of societal expectation and gender-identity conflict. It is significant that two thirds of the research participants were romantically and sexually involved with women, supporting their own identity as males.

Devor discusses key factors in learning about sexuality as it relates to young FTM adolescents, noting that societal homophobia greatly influences and deters many from pursuing a sexual relationship with a woman until they achieved their transitions and became men. Few find much relief from the pressures and requirements of sexual and romantic relationships in our culture.

Early Adult Years

The early adult years of these women are spent in pursuit of community and the search for their own identities, which enable them to express themselves as naturally as possible, often finding themselves in lesbian communities and relationships. Excerpts from personal stories are sensitively presented, qualifying such experiences. Many, however, marry, have children, and try to comply with societal demands. Most depart from these heterosexual efforts to seriously pursue their own journey toward manhood and their true self identity, having exhausted their possibilities as women.

Medical Implications of Transition

The long, arduous journey of the final transition is perhaps the most difficult. Personal narratives reflect the struggle to obtain reasonable and safe medical and mental health-care, revealing the lack of consistent, comprehensive services available. Many individuals creatively try to manage their own transitions without any assistance, with varying degrees of success. Compelling personal anecdotes from research participants reveal the challenges and relief experienced by finally deciding to transition.

The physiological changes desired by most individuals who are FTM transsexuals are more complicated and complex than those of MTF transsexuals. These changes include hormone reassignment, breast binding, breast reduction or removal, hysterectomy, and possible genital reassignment with varying possibilities of developing a phallus. Again, the personal anecdotes are poignant. Enormous financial costs involved in surgical transition prevent many from achieving their personal goals. The stories reflect the frustration of the limitations of FTM surgeries (less satisfactorily developed than MTF genital surgeries) as well as the months and years it takes for surgical transformation.

Such factors create further limitations in social situations, such as locker rooms, urinals, and the doctor’s offices. However, these research respondents report that most are able to achieve their personal goals of living successfully and happily as men.


After transition and successful presentation as a male, including varying degrees of surgery, this study reveals the most vulnerable and challenging experiences for the men were clearly the practice of their sexuality. Positive and tender personal participant stories reflect the importance of experiencing sexual validation from women or men who desire and choose to be with them in intimate situations.

The self-reported outcomes are positive and beneficial. The journey from life as a woman to life as a man enabled them to see two sides of gender in a way that is simply unavailable to all but the rarest of individuals. They indicated a special sensitivity to interpersonal dynamics and to reading emotional cues, thus enabling them to easily present as credible men in society and, in addition, to avoid sexist behavior toward women. Once transitioned, the reflections of those in this study are wistful and further illuminate their courage and dignity through the hardships and travails that scarred, tempered, and strengthened them.


In her conclusion, Devor discusses the complexity and challenges of FTM transsexualism and transition in a credible and carefully presented framework. She weaves a concept which includes sociological, behavioral, historical, developmental identity and process, sexuality, cultural environment, mores, and values. She actively refrains from biologic-deterministic leanings, noting that while they have merit, our society has a distinct leaning toward scientific justification, medicalization of the human condition, and the technologies available to respond.

Acknowledging the limitations of understanding this phenomena, Devor, as a sociologist, concentrates on the human condition of transsexual individuals as products of their social condition, “a perfect fit in an imperfect world” (pg. 589), challenging society to “make room for all people to fully express the tremendous diversity of gender and sex which people experience on their own” (pg. 586). She argues that the real struggle is fitting themselves into socially known categories in which they experience “abiding anxiety, identity confusion and identity comparison” (pg. 601) from which they made decisions to further transition as female-to-male transsexuals to transsexual men.

Devor’s solid and articulate recommendations for future education, training, and service delivery of professionals are relevant, poignant, and timely, if not an obligation for us to prepare ourselves professionally to better assist this under-served community. The organizational presentation of this formidable work creates a clear picture of the intricate and complex aspects of the whole life-journey of the FTM transsexuals in this small study. Uncomplicated and descriptive language clarifies abstract concepts in life development, artistically inserting oral history anecdotes of the research participants to further illuminate the objectives. Presentation of known theories and models of transsexualism are carefully described, as is the historical grounding of contemporary thinking on the subject to date. However, the book never becomes so abstract that the reader is bored or distracted. It would be of interest to learn more about religious conflict with transsexualism, especially female-to-male, as well as how families accommodated the final transitions of these individuals. Also of interest would be discussion around parenting for those who parented as women and then transitioned. These topics alone would probably constitute another book by Dr. Devor.

This is the most comprehensive, professional book to date on FTM transsexualism and the many aspects of their life journeys. For its volume, this book is clearly understandable and reads without excessive use of scientific and academic rhetoric, thus making the book available to a broad audience. It is nonjudgmental, nonsensational, and provocative in its honesty, interpretation, and challenge to the future of societal opinion regarding FTM gender identity.

Dr. Devor is recognized and highly respected by both the academic community and the transgender community. Her work consistently challenges the social structure in which we live. Because this book addresses social history, theories, cultures, identity formation, developmental stages, sexuality, transitional stages, transsexualism, stigma, shame, disenfranchisement, and oral history—topics relevant to all helping professionals, theorists and researchers—this reviewer strongly recommends it as required reading. Not only does it demythologize and depathologize the contemporary social view, but it also provides the challenge of new, plausible perspectives.

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FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society. Reviewed by Maxine Petersen, M.A., C.Psych.Assoc., Coordinator, Gender Identity Clinic, Center for Addiction and Mental Health: Clarke Division, Toronto, ON. 1998. The Canadian Journal of Sexuality, 7(2). Pp. 116-69.

In the past forty-five years, and especially since the late 1960s, there has been a large body of published research on the subject of transsexualism. Until very recently, however, the vast majority of clinical and research reports, as well as autobiographies, have focussed on the male-to-female, rather than the female-to-male, transsexual experience. The explanation for this imbalance in the scientific literature has generally been that there are merely more male-to-female clients to study and more of these same individuals have been prepared to step forward and tell their stories. It may also be the case that the marketability of their stories is greater. In the prevailing social structure where women historically have been disadvantaged, the phenomenon of biological males going through a physical and social metamorphosis to live as women is more socially threatening, hence more interesting as well. Devor reverses this trend with her examination of female-to-male transsexuals. In her examination, she takes a qualitative, descriptive approach in which she looks at the social development of female-to-male transsexuals through their actual self-reports. This is in contrast to much of the existing work on both biological males and females which takes a rather more quantitative, biological approach to this phenomenon.

In this ambitious undertaking, Devor has made a significant contribution to at least one aspect of the female-to-male transsexual experience by describing the social-developmental histories of female-to-male transsexuals. For the first time, we get a close look at how such post-surgical males perceived themselves throughout their formative developmental years. Readers may experience some initial gender confusion of their own, since Devor shifts from the female to the male pronoun or uses a male-identified name with a female pronoun, often within the same sentence and in reference to the same individual, depending on the period of history being reported. Hence, one routinely encounters statements such as, “He enjoyed her father’s attentions” or “Bruce tried […] to earn her father’s affection.” However, this particular style conveys the many contradictions of the transsexual experience in a more honest and even poignant manner than might otherwise be possible.

In FTM: Female-to-Male Transsexuals in Society, Devor has attempted to open a window on the lives of a sample of forty-five female-to-male transsexuals who tell their stories in response to Devor’s semi-structured in-person interviews or in response to a written questionnaire. Face-to-face interviews were conducted in just over 50% of cases. She uses the participants’ responses throughout the book at length and in great detail as graphic illustrations of the gender confusion, gender role socialization, and male gender-identification which most of her subjects reported at various stages of their development. To her credit, Devor declares in the Introduction that, “[…] in innumerable ways, large and small, my attitudes, beliefs, and characteristics influenced the responses which participants offered to my questions.” The author’s bias appears to have its foundation in her own sociological view of the social-developmental understanding of female-to-male transsexuals. As such, her approach uses qualitative, rather than more quantitative, methods. This contrasts with the approach of much of the existing literature where the emphasis is on ostensibly objective measures of outcome, and where the decisions on outcome are often made by the clinician based on statistical data analyses rather than the patients’ self-reports. Of course this leaves considerable room both for contamination of the data by the author’s views and for the criticisms of this methodology that may come with such potential contamination. It is also important for the reader to understand that because of the methods Devor has used to obtain her research participants, they do not necessarily constitute a representative sample of the female-to-male population. Consequently, her results may not be entirely generalizable. Subjects were recruited through advertisements in various gender related newsletters, referrals from other participants and word of mouth. Only two subjects were recruited through actual gender clinic contacts, a situation which does enhance the generalizability of her findings. Despite whatever pitfalls there might have been in the selection process, the stories told by these transsexual men have an intuitive ring of truth and accuracy in reflecting the experiences of many others like them.

Female-to-Male is divided into six parts, with each part divided further into chapters encompassing many of the more common concerns, questions, and debates related to the dominant theme of each of these essential parts. Part I, “First Questions”, reviews the historical existence of the transsexual experience. Devor takes the reader from the early Greek and Roman concept of gender roles through the Middle Ages and up to the present. In so doing, she also includes a review of Native American cultural recognition of gender variations. She summarizes this historical journey with the conclusion that there have probably always been female-to-male transsexuals, but that it is only with the advent of medical advances and a diagnostic category that medical intervention has been available. Devor argues for a social system which can accommodate a greater range of social gender roles; however, she does not go as far as those who argue that the availability of surgical intervention and/or gender dichotomy imposed by current social norms have socially constructed the phenomenon of transsexuality. Instead, she states that, “[…] there seems little doubt that whatever the causes, there have always been and probably always will be females who are willing to risk their lives for the privilege of living in the world as men.” She does not appear to imply by this statement that she views female-to-male transsexualism as an issue of seeking male privilege, but rather that the male identity of her subjects is more a personal and internal identity which also happens to confer some additional advantages by the mere adoption of the male gender role.

Devor next attempts to present an objective overview of the theories of the etiology of transsexualism, including separate discussions about the possible social, psychological and biological explanations for the condition of transsexualism as we have come to know it. Devor credits all three of these major elements as having the potential to contribute to the etiology of transsexualism, but she concludes that, “It is unlikely that any one theory or theoretical approach will ever explain the origins of gender or sex dysphorias.” Nevertheless, while she does not dismiss the role of biology or psychology, she appears to favour the role of socialization. Devor clearly places a higher value on the impact of “family dynamics” and the “social organization of patriarchy” than on any other possible explanation for the existence of transsexualism. After presenting the possible sources of development of gender dysphoria and transsexualism, she devotes the balance of this volume to the social influences which she considers the most likely dominant factors in their etiology. These are the formative early childhood, adolescent and even adult experiences of female-to-male transsexuals, and the interpretations that transsexual individuals attribute to these experiences. The author has been comprehensive in her reporting and analysis of participants’ histories, avoiding over-emphasizing one aspect over others as far as possible.

Part II, “Childhood Years”, begins the process of examining those social influences identified in her earlier discussion of historical, cultural and etiological issues. This second major section devotes itself to a reporting of the experiences of the forty-five participants, beginning in early childhood and focussing on relationships with mothers and sisters and fathers and brothers, as well as other influential relationships and peer friendships. The overwhelming impression we are left with is that most of these forty-five female-to-males were unable or unwilling to identify with the females in their lives, and in a majority of cases, but not in all, resisted attempts to feminize their behaviour. In fact, some participants described themselves as typically female children. Despite, or perhaps because of, the fact that a significant proportion of participants related histories of physical and or sexual abuse at the hands of dominant male figures in their lives, the female-to-males in Devor’s study reported a strong identification with masculinity and the male role. For example, most participants reported a consistent preference for male companionship provided they were treated as boys or at least not expected to behave as girls. From their own histories, it is impossible to evaluate which came first, the reported reinforcement or encouragement of masculine-identified behaviours recounted by so many of these post-surgical men or their own internal male identification which compelled them to seek out male role models and activities. Devor does not overtly guide the reader to a conclusion; however, there seems an underlying theme of the pre-eminence of socialization irrevocably inching these clearly biologically female children into the role of eventual manhood. She also displays some personal bias in the language she chooses to use; for example, she expresses the view that some of these biological female children, “naively believed themselves to be boys […] subjected to masculine peer socialization […]”(p. 175), thus apparently discounting a biological etiology for gender dysphoria. For Devor, it is primarily through a complex socialization process that individuals come to identify as transsexual.

In Part III, “Adolescence”, Devor guides us through many of the developmental and social expectations imposed on young female children in general, and then proceeds to contrast this pattern with that described by the participants in her sample. In this group, the typical response to puberty is represented as a combination of denial, despondency, isolation and loneliness as a result of the increasing awareness of simply not fitting into the expected social role of young females. Here we find detailed descriptions of these young biological girls’ relationships with peers and family as they shifted with the changing expectations of a female puberty that most found emotionally devastating in its reality. Devor presents and summarizes her respondents’ relationships with peers, mothers, sisters and other significant female family members, including grandmothers and aunts, as well as fathers. Typically, the participants preferred the role of protector of, or provider to, the women in their lives, thus allowing some bond with women otherwise not easily formed. This masculine identified bonding with significant females is contrasted by distant relationships with fathers often characterized as abusive. In addition, fathers were described as, “[failing] to support them in their masculinity”, particularly once puberty arrived.

Contrary to much of the published literature and self-reports of female-to-male transsexuals in clinical settings, Devor’s participants report an eroticism not dissimilar to that reported by male-to-female transsexuals. Her accounts also contrast with the commonly accepted belief of many clinicians that transsexual female-to-males avoid touching their female genitalia, let alone engaging in masturbation. Of particular interest is the descriptions of sexual fantasies during adolescent masturbation. Devor’s participants describe autoerotic fantasies and report becoming aroused by and masturbating to images of themselves engaging in heterosexual relationships as males, of simulating a male phallus. Devor concludes that these masturbatory autoerotic male role fantasies represent a “priming” for “the sexual practices of straight men.” While she makes no mention of the similarity, these role reversal fantasies are in a great many ways characteristic of similar role reversal fantasies and desires of transsexual male-to-females so aptly described by Blanchard (1991). Blanchard coined the term “autogynephilia” to describe this phenomenon in the primarily heterosexual male-to-female transsexual group (i.e., they are sexually attracted to female partners whether or not they have had gender confirming surgery). Devor’s exposure of this sexualized role reversal fantasy among transsexual men is an important and previously un-commented upon behaviour, and is something that clearly needs more attention. Perhaps there is, in fact, a parallel to Blanchard’s autogynephilic transsexual woman, the autoandrophilic transsexual man. It certainly has great similarities if Devor’s accounts are at all accurate. At the same time, she does report that a significant minority of participants did fall into the category of avoidance of autoerotic activity. The fourth section deals with issues of these transsexual men’s finding their identities as individuals, of experimentation and of resolution of their internal identity conflicts.

Part V, “Changing Over”, relates the processes involved in making the final decision to transition fully to the male role, and how participants came to the realization they were indeed transsexual men. There is considerable discussion of the psychosocial processes involved in this transitional process. Devor describes this as a “process of elimination” of all other options, including the “failure at femininity or womanhood and at femaleness”, a conclusion not typically described in other accounts which often portray transsexual development as a pathway or a trajectory. Again, perhaps it reflects a particular preferential bias on the part of the author. On the other hand, there is likely some truth to the author’s conclusion since others report similar such attempts.

Part VI explores the many differences participants discovered in their personal social, sexual and intimate lives once they finally achieved manhood. Some common experiences include: learning how to cope with using the men’s room without exposing the fact that they lack a phallus (a majority of male-to-females do not have phalloplasty for a variety of reasons); the challenge of establishing romantic relationships; and the sometimes unhappy recognition that women frequently regard them as presenting a risk to themselves or to their children simply because they are men. There is also some discussion of the different ways society responds to the male expectation of power or status versus the female attitude of deference to a male patriarchal society. Even in the case of the transsexual male participants who had experienced the lack of power in their lives as women, there was often some expression of surprise at how pervasive this attitude is among both men and women.

The final chapter raises questions about and speculates on the origins of transsexualism. This chapter serves as the forum for the author to summarize her own views, beliefs and perhaps some sociological biases in terms of the female-to-male transsexual experience. Here, she declares once again her strong preference for a predominantly developmental process as explication for the phenomenon of transsexualism. For Devon this developmental process may begin in early childhood; however, it also clearly continues to shape the lives of transsexuals during adolescence and well into adulthood. These are not purely internal processes, but involve social interaction with others to help shape these transsexual men’s identities. Thus, for the author, there must be an inter-relationship between social interactions and the individual’s disposition in terms of how these interactions are interpreted. In this context, she states explicitly that, “Regardless, it is my contention that there must have been many subsequent events, interpretations, and decisions made by participants and the people around them without which few, if any, participants would have become transsexual.” Finally, the author proposes a hierarchy of fourteen stages in the developmental processes of becoming or identifying as transsexual culminating in “identity pride” characterized by “transsexual advocacy and activism.”

In this final section, she again expresses the view that the etiology of transsexualism is less important than focussing on ways in which “[…] persons may live in whatever modes of gender or sex expression they wish. Rather than trying to eliminate transsexualism from our midst, I vote for trying to make room for all people to fully express the tremendous diversity of gender and sex which people experience as their own” (p.586-587).

FTM: Female-to-Male Transexuals in Society represents a view of the world as one of male privilege, masculine power within the family, and the patriarchal nature of society, a position that is very hard to argue against. Whether or not one accepts or adopts the sociological developmental processes on the road to transsexualism proposed by Devon this work represents a landmark in the documentation of the personal lives of transsexual men. It is the most comprehensive view of the female-to-male transsexuals’ experiences published to date, and it documents their histories in their own words. While there is much in this book that remains open to debate, what is not debatable is its importance in the evolution of the understanding of the transsexual male experience. This book belongs on the reading list of anyone interested in how society views sex, gender, power and patriarchal society.


Blanchard, R. (1991). Clinical observations and systematic studies of autogynephilia. Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, 17, 235-251.

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