Anthropology and transgender people

Anthropologists have studied gender identity and expression within societies as well as transgender culture’s own development as a global culture. Transgender studies examines the experiences, identities, and practices of gender minorities and overlaps with anthropology. This work often overlaps with queer studies, women’s studies, and gender studies as well. See also sociology.


Early anthropology on gender identity and expression often overfocused on sexual practices or identities. It was often presented through a heterocentric and ethnocentric lens. More recent work is interdisciplinary and often includes scholarship incorporating or written by trans writers.


This site discusses several anthropologists involved in academic controversies around trans people, including:


Boellstorff, Tom. 2007. Queer studies in the house of anthropology. Annual Review of Anthropology 36:17–35.DOI: 10.1146/annurev.anthro.36.081406.094421

Boellstorff, Tom, Mauro Cabral, Micha Cárdenas, et al. 2014. Decolonizing transgender: A roundtable discussion. Transgender Studies Quarterly 1.3: 419–439.DOI: 10.1215/23289252-2685669

Davidson, Megan. 2007. Seeking refuge under the umbrella: Inclusion, exclusion, and organizing within the category transgenderSexuality Research & Social Policy 4.4: 60–80.DOI: 10.1525/srsp.2007.4.4.60

Denny, Dallas. 2013. Current concepts in transgender identity. New York: Routledge.DOI: 10.4324/9780203775134

Hines, Sally. 2006. What’s the difference? Bringing particularity to queer studies of transgender. Journal of Gender Studies 15.1: 49–66.DOI: 10.1080/09589230500486918

Serano, Julia. 2016. Whipping girl: A transsexual woman on sexism and the scapegoating of femininity. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: Seal.

Stryker, Susan. 2017. Transgender history: The roots of today’s revolution. 2d ed. Berkeley, CA: Seal.

Stryker, Susan, and Aren Z. Aizura, eds. 2013. Transgender studies reader 2. New York: Routledge.

Towle, Evan B., and Lynn Marie Morgan. 2002. Romancing the transgender native: Rethinking the use of the “third gender” concept. GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies 8.4: 469–497.DOI: 10.1215/10642684-8-4-469