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Female Husbands

A Trans History

Jen Manion



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Cambridge University Press
26 March 2020
History of the Americas; Modern history to 20th century: c 1700 to c 1900; Society & Social Sciences; Gender studies: women; Gay & Lesbian studies
Long before people identified as transgender or lesbian, there were female husbands and the women who loved them. Female husbands - people assigned female who transed gender, lived as men, and married women - were true queer pioneers. Moving deftly from the colonial era to just before the First World War, Jen Manion uncovers the riveting and very personal stories of ordinary people who lived as men despite tremendous risk, danger, violence, and threat of punishment. Female Husbands weaves the story of their lives in relation to broader social, economic, and political developments in the United States and the United Kingdom, while also exploring how attitudes towards female husbands shifted in relation to transformations in gender politics and women's rights, ultimately leading to the demise of the category of 'female husband' in the early twentieth century. Groundbreaking and influential, Female Husbands offers a dynamic, varied, and complex history of the LGBTQ past.
By:   Jen Manion
Imprint:   Cambridge University Press
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 235mm,  Width: 159mm,  Spine: 24mm
Weight:   650g
ISBN:   9781108483803
ISBN 10:   1108483801
Pages:   320
Publication Date:   26 March 2020
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active
Introduction: extraordinary lives; Part I. UK Husbands, 1740-1840: 1. The first female husband; 2. The pillar of the community; 3. The sailors and soldiers; 4. The wives; Part II. US Husbands,1830-1910: 5. The workers; 6. The activists; 7. The criminalized poor; 8. The end of a category; Conclusion: sex trumps gender; Epilogue: the first female-to-male transsexual.

Jen Manion is Associate Professor of History at Amherst College, Massachusetts, the author of Liberty's Prisoners: Carceral Culture in Early America (2015), and a lifelong LGBTQ rights advocate.

Reviews for Female Husbands: A Trans History

'In this painstakingly researched study, Jen Manion opens a window into a previously unseen dimension of the British and American past. Female Husbands explores the lives of people who transed gender, lived as men, and married women between the colonial period and World War I, situating them in the context of broader political and social developments including changing understandings of gender and women's rights. The book is a stunning and path breaking achievement.' Drew Faust, President Emeritus and the Arthur Kingsley Porter University Professor, Harvard University, Massachusetts 'Female Husbands combines intellectual rigor and impeccable historical research with sensitivity and even imagination to illuminate this fascinatingly varied cohort of gender rebels.' Emma Donoghue, author of Room and Akin '... fascinating ... extremely thought-provoking.' Christina Patterson, The Sunday Times 'Jen Manion offers a spectacular historical survey of people assigned female at birth who went on to live as men and marry women. In doing so, they demonstrate that contemporary attention to trans issues is just the tip of a vast, submerged legacy of gender variance, traversing both sides of the English-speaking transatlantic world, that stretches back hundreds of years.' Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History and The Transgender Studies Reader 'Jen Manion mines Anglo-American newspapers, books, and pamphlets and shows us how 'female husbands' confounded conceptions of sex, gender, and sexuality. An engaging account of the unruly history of 'transing', and the surveillance of it, in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.' Joanne Meyerowitz, author of How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States 'Female Husbands is a treasure trove of historical insights.' Heike Bauer, Times Higher Education 'Manion's triumph in Female Husbands is to treat with an openhanded and flexible approach a series of lives that resisted categories and flourished through ambiguity.' Karen Harvey, BBC History Magazine 'A masterclass in historical rigour, empathy, and craft.' Catherine Baker, History Today 'A detailed, synoptic history of a fascinating dimension of 18th- and 19th-century cultural history in Britain and the US.' Grace Lavery, The Guardian 'An altogether fresh and innovative take on centuries-old identities and relationships, Female Husbands shows its readers how the most forward-thinking and progressive conceptions of gender and sexuality can find their origins in the past.' Hannah Roche, The Times Literary Supplement '... Manion's approach to their subjects reminds readers that those who transed gender existed within a kind of heritage and tradition despite the seemingly singular and spectacular nature of their experiences. Indeed, Female Husbands challenges the spectacular framing of the titular husbands by contemporaneous material over and over, examining the shared tropes and cultural anxieties that animated these accounts so as to call their veracity into question. In doing so, Manion builds a framework for examining transness and narrative tropes surrounding transness both historically and in the modern day.' Julia Ftacek, Global Maritime History

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