The glamour of transvestite fashion is the epitome of 90s style, but the significance of cross-dressing and sex-changing goes much deeper than the annals of fashion. Ekins vividly details the innermost desires and the varied practices of males who wear the clothes of women for the pleasure it gives them (cross-dressers), or who wish to change sex and are actively going about it (sex-changers). This unique and fascinating book transforms an area of study previously dominated by clinical models to look instead at cross-dressing and sex-changing as a highly variable social process. Giving precedence to the processual and emergent nature of much cross-dressing and sex-changing phenomena, the book traces the phased femaling career path of the ‘male femaler’ from ‘beginning femaling’ through to ‘consolidating femaling’. Based upon seventeen years of fieldwork, life history work, qualitative analysis, archival work and contact with several thousand cross-dressers and sex-changers, the book meticulously and systematically develops a theory of ‘male femaling’ which has major ramifications for both the field of ‘transvestism’ and ‘transsexualism’, and for the analysis of sex and gender more generally. Male-Femaling provides social and cultural theorists with a lively case study for the generation of new theory. Social psychologists and sociologists interested in seeing grounded theory applied to a particular case study will be well rewarded. It will be essential reading for students of gender studies who seek to explore the interrelations between sex, sexuality and gender from the informants’ point of view.
By Richard Ekins, 1997