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Joanne Meyerowitz
IU History Department

Last modified: Tuesday, October 8, 2002

IU history professor reports on transsexuality in America

The history of transsexuality in America is the topic of a book just published by Indiana University history professor Joanne Meyerowitz.

How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States has been released by Harvard University Press. Meyerowitz, whose expertise includes women's history, gender and sexuality, said the 363-page book is expected to interest academics, transsexuals, those interested in transsexuality, and the general public interested in questions on gender and/or sexuality.

The book is described by the publisher as "the first serious history of transsexuality ... a powerful and human story about people who had a deep and unshakable desire to transform their bodily sex. Meyerowitz focuses on the stories of transsexual men and women themselves, as well as a large supporting cast of doctors, scientists, journalists, lawyers, judges, feminists and gay liberationists as they debated the big questions of medical ethics, nature versus nurture, self and society, and the scope of human rights."

Meyerowitz said the book "uses the social, cultural and medical history of transsexuality as a window into changing definitions of biological sex, gender and sexuality in the 20th century."

Meyerowitz, whose IU duties include serving as editor of the Journal of American History, has dealt with gender issues in her research, writing and teaching for more than 15 years. She said this book builds on her earlier work on gender in two previous books: Women Adrift: Independent Wage Earners in Chicago, 1880-1930 and Not June Cleaver: Women and Gender in Postwar America, 1945-1960.

For more details, contact Meyerowitz at 812-855-2816 or

The Harvard University Press Web site is at