Rankin co-authors book on the experiences of transgender people

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - A new book co-authored by Sue Rankin, associate professor in education policy studies at Penn State, details the experiences of transgender people in today’s society.

Rankin and Genny Beemyn, director of Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, are co-authors of "The Lives of Transgender People" (2011, Columbia University Press). The book is based on a survey of nearly 3,500 self-identified transgender individuals and follow-up interviews with more than 400 of the participants. The study is one of the largest involving transgender people in the United States.

In their book, Beemyn and Rankin consider how people who identify somewhere on the transgender spectrum--for example androgynous, gender nonconforming, genderqueer, transfeminine, transmaculine, and transgender--experienced their gender identities while growing up and how they came to see themselves as transgender.

“One of the findings that surprised us was the wide variety of ways that people identified,” stated Beemyn, a transgender person herself. “When asked to describe their gender identities, the participants provided more than a hundred different responses.”

Given the lack of research on the climate for transgender people in the United States, the book breaks new ground by examining the participants’ concerns for their physical safety, their fear of being outed as transgender people, and their experiences with employment discrimination and harassment. Beemyn and Rankin find that despite greater societal recognition of transgender people and a growing transgender rights movement, individuals who are transgender or who are perceived as such commonly continue to face discrimination, harassment, and bias-motivated violence.

“The climate for transgender people is less than welcoming,” said Rankin, who also serves as a senior research associate in Penn State’s Center for the Study of Higher Education. “Our results parallel the findings of other recent studies indicating that transgender youth in particular are at risk for gender bias.”

The book’s release coincides with the Transgender Day of Remembrance, scheduled for November 20. This annual event recognizes individuals who have been murdered in the previous year because of their gender identity or expression.

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Last Updated November 03, 2011