The hot pink dinosaur on the cover smiles soullessly into the Great Beyond. It reminds me of the way trans people are supposed to smile soullesly at (or through) our cisgender co-humans and not ever express any disgruntlement when we are shoved to the side becau– geT OUT OF THE WAY WHITE FEMINISM COMING THROUGH!!
With Testosterone Rex (2017), Cordelia Fine penned an easy-to-read book about what she dubs ‘testosterone rex’. Testosterone rex is the assumption that testosterone is to blame for all apparent ‘biological’ gender differences. The biological and thus scientifically valid difference in the make-up of people of different genders somehow validates reducing women to motherhood and congratulating men for bottled-up emotions. Enter gender inequality.
Fine discards the man-hunter/woman-gatherer myth and its misogynist offspring using psychological and social studies, and, y’know, common sense. She disproves the apparent scientific basis on which this system is based and does so with great care and a casual sense of humour, pointing out fallacies and discrepancies left and right. She stays safely within the frame of the research done before her; her focus lies on (white) cis-gender heterosexuals. Enter my frustration with this book.
When I first saw the title, I was overjoyed. A book on trans people! Science! The end of gender as we know it! Finally, someone realised that the perfect target group for research on gender has not yet been addressed: trans people. Except Fine did not.
Trans people often know what life was like as a person of their assigned gender and their actual gender(s). Often even (a) gender(s) that lie(s) in between or outside of those two. Sometimes we choose HRT (2), sometimes we get surgeries to better live our truths. Whatever we do, we experience life from at least two very different perspectives.
You would think we are the perfect people to interview on the effects hormones have on your body and mind, on the way society treats people of different genders, and on what that pesky little T actually means. And still, I have yet to read the first work of research on how these two influence each other.
I enjoyed reading this book – it quotes relevant research, Fine clearly mastered the things she addresses in this book, and there is a comfortable ease with which she rebuts studies previously held untouchable. However, considering the title and the focus on the effect of hormones on people’s behaviour and perception, I am deeply disappointed Fine did not at least acknowledge trans people as an interesting group to interview.
It feels like the umpteenth feminist who turned out not to see further than her own struggle. And the feminist/queer movement deserves better than that.
Misha reviewed a press copy of this book. The book is available for loan at FEL’s library. Contact FEL at email@example.com for more information.
(1) Fine, Cordelia. Testosterone Rex: Unmaking the Myths of Our Gendered Minds. London: Icon, 2017. Print.
(2) HRT: Hormone replacement therapy.