Second Skins

The Body Narratives of Transsexuality

Jay Prosser

Columbia University Press

Second Skins

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Pub Date: April 1998

ISBN: 9780231109352

288 Pages

Format: Paperback

List Price: $32.00£26.95

Pub Date: April 1998

ISBN: 9780231109345

288 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $90.00£74.95

Pub Date: April 1998

ISBN: 9780231533805

288 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $31.99£26.95

Second Skins

The Body Narratives of Transsexuality

Jay Prosser

Columbia University Press

Do we need bodies for sex? Is gender in the head or in the body? In Second Skins Jay Prosser reveals the powerful drive that leads men and women literally to shed their skins and--in flesh and head--to cross the boundary of sex. Telling their story is not merely an act that comes after the fact, it's a force of its own that makes it impossible to forget that stories of identity inhabit autobiographical bodies.

In this stunning first extensive study of transsexual autobiography, Jay Prosser examines the exchanges between body and narrative that constitute the phenomenon of transsexuality. Showing how transsexuality's somatic transitions are spurred and enabled by the formal transitions of narrative, Prosser uncovers a narrative tradition for transsexual bodies. Sex change is a plot--and thus appropriately transsexuals make for adept and absorbing authors. In reading the transssexual plot through transsexuals' own recounting, Prosser not only gives us a new and more accurate rendition of transsexuality. His book suggests transsexuality, with its

extraordinary conjunctions of body and narrative, as an identity story that transitions across the body/language divide that currently stalls poststucturalist thought.

The form and approach of Second Skins works to cross other important and parallel divides. In addition to analyzing transsexual textual accounts, the book includes some 30 photographic portraits of transsexuals--poignant attempts by transsexuals to present themselves unmediated to the world except by the camera. And the author does not shy from exposure himself. Interjecting the personal into his theoretical discussion and close textual work throughout the book, Prosser reads and writes his own body, his purpose in that stylistic crossing to stake out transsexuality--and hence this very book--as his own body's narrative.
Acknowledgments
Introduction: On Transitions -- Changing Bodies, Changing Narratives
Part 1: Bodies
1. Judith Butler: Queer Feminism, Transgender, and the Transubstantiation of Sex
2. A Skin of One's Own: Toward a Theory of Transsexual Embodiment
Part 2: Narratives
3. Mirror Images: Transsexuality and Autobiography
4. "Some Primitive Thing Conceived in a Turbulent Age of Transition": The Invert, The Well of Loneliness, and the Narrative Origins of Transexuality
5. No Place Like Home: Transgender and Trans-Genre in Leslie Feinberg's Stone Butch Blues
Epilogue: Transsexuality in Photography -- Fielding the Referent
Notes
Index

About the Author

Jay Prosser is a lecturer in English and American Studies at the University of Leicester