September 7, 2011

A Peek Into The Kinsey Library: Trangenderism

User Services Coordinator Kasey Snyder highlights holdings from The Kinsey Institute Library, Archives and Special Collections

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When I was asked to write a blogpost for Kinsey Confidential about the special collections and archives at the KI Library, I scarcely knew where to begin. There are so many aspects of the collection and the people who use them, that I found it hard to limit my focus to just one or two. So, with the help of Shawn the Library Services Manager, and Jenny the Kinsey Institute’s Communications Director, I settled on highlighting 3 portions of our collections and user research in each post. Then, I wanted to have an overriding theme for each post.

Focusing on Transgender Materials

This post is centered around a book, a journal, and a library user that examine the subject of transgenderism. Transgenderism is actually a movement that deals with questions and issues dealing with transgender topics and concerns.   It is currently a highly discussed topic in both the LGBT and medical communities.  Gender studies, psychology, sociology, endocrinology, law, and politics are just a few of the areas of study that have started to really delve into both the idea and theory surrounding transgenderism, and how transgender individuals are viewed and treated around the world. The Kinsey Institute Library has some fascinating holdings pertaining to the topic, and this blogpost seeks to outline a couple of them. But, we will start with a user profile and some interesting research currently going on about transgenderism.

Spotlight on The Kinsey Institute Library Users

stef shuster is a Ph.D Candidate in Sociology at University of Iowa.  shuster’s research at the Kinsey Institute Library is the first part of a two tiered dissertation on how the transgender community sees itself.  In shuster’s view, much of the framing of transgendered persons has been medical in nature historically, with much of the medical research dating back to the 60s and 70s. shuster believes that the transgender community has redefined itself over the past forty to fifty years both psychologically and sociologically- forming activist organizations and support groups, and expanding the spectrum of gender beyond just women and men.

shuster plans to conduct interviews of transgendered individuals from these groups after concluding the literary portion of the dissertation research at the KI Library. Currently, shuster  is utilizing many of the Institute’s archival collections including those of Louise Lawrence, Charles Ihlenfeld, and most notably the Harry Benjamin collection.

Book Spotlight: 10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert, Illustrated by Rex Ray

This is a heartwarming and sometimes heart-wrenching story of a little Bailey, who dreams each night of a different magical dress; some made of flowers, others of crystals, or windows. None of Bailey’s family wants to hear about the beautiful dreams. But one day, Bailey finds a friend who can help make the dream dresses a reality.

This book is a unique story of a child discovering identity and what it means to be an individual. The reactions of Bailey’s family to the dream dresses almost brought me to tears. Given that I am in my late twenties, it is rare that a children’s book will hit home and be so personally relatable. But I think we can all remember a time in childhood, when it seemed that those closest to us just did not understand us. It is also wonderful to see the subject of transgenderism addressed in a children’s book.

10,000 Dresses is as beautifully illustrated as it is written. The visuals give a wonderful texture to Bailey’s waking life as well as the dreams of dresses. It is very stylistic, but together with the wonderful storytelling, it gives the reader a feeling of presence within the story. The Kinsey Institute Library is proud to have it in our growing collection of children’s books incorporating LGBT stories.

Journal of the Month:  International Journal of Transgenderism

The International Journal of Transgenderism is a quarterly publication featuring articles that look at transgenderism from a number of different perspectives.  The sociology, psychophysiology, and psychology of trangendered individuals and communities are examined, both through clinical studies and field work.

Some of the recent articles, which I found interesting  dealt with gender identity in US veterans, a case study of transexualism among siblings, transphobia, and well-being of trans-women. Other topics included treatment of gender identity disorder,  standards of provider care for transgendered individuals, and reviews of conference proceedings. One especially notable article outlined a study of the correlation between self-defined femininity and femininity of vocal tones in speech therapy of transgender speakers. The International Journal of Transgenderism is a publication of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health. The Kinsey Institute Library has holdings of this journal through 2010 available for use in the Reading Room.

Kasey Snyder is a master’s candidate in Library Science at IU Bloomington, and works in the KI Library as a User Services Coordinator.