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Anthology Critique Essay History Humanities Law/Legal Natural Sciences Social Sciences Theory

“You’ve Changed”: Sex Reassignment and Personal Identity

By Laurie J. Shrage, 2009

The essays in this volume bring together philosophical debates about personal identity and feminist debates about gender and sex identity with emerging debates about trans identities. How can we help people make sense of profound transformations of a person’s sex or gender? Has something essential or only accidental to the person’s original self changed? What does the plasticity of sex and gender attributes tell us about the categories of male and female? Does the terminology currently in use (transman, transwoman, trans, trangender, cisgender, transsexual, intersex, etc.) carve out important distinctions, or does it further mystify human difference? How are sex, gender, and sexuality related, both conceptually and concretely? If sex, like gender, is a social construct, should the informal and formal mechanisms by which we enforce particular sex identities be changed?

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