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Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality

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The fact that men and women continue to receive unequal treatment at work is a point of contention among politicians, the media, and scholars. Common explanations for this disparity range from biological differences between the sexes to the conscious and unconscious biases that guide hiring and promotion decisions. Just One of the Guys? sheds new light on this phenomenon b The fact that men and women continue to receive unequal treatment at work is a point of contention among politicians, the media, and scholars. Common explanations for this disparity range from biological differences between the sexes to the conscious and unconscious biases that guide hiring and promotion decisions. Just One of the Guys? sheds new light on this phenomenon by analyzing the unique experiences of transgender men—people designated female at birth whose gender identity is male—on the job. Kristen Schilt draws on in-depth interviews and observational data to show that while individual transmen have varied experiences, overall their stories are a testament to systemic gender inequality. The reactions of coworkers and employers to transmen, Schilt demonstrates, reveal the ways assumptions about innate differences between men and women serve as justification for discrimination. She finds that some transmen gain acceptance—and even privileges—by becoming “just one of the guys,” that some are coerced into working as women or marginalized for being openly transgender, and that other forms of appearance-based discrimination also influence their opportunities. Showcasing the voices of a frequently overlooked group, Just One of the Guys? lays bare the social processes that foster forms of inequality that affect us all.


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The fact that men and women continue to receive unequal treatment at work is a point of contention among politicians, the media, and scholars. Common explanations for this disparity range from biological differences between the sexes to the conscious and unconscious biases that guide hiring and promotion decisions. Just One of the Guys? sheds new light on this phenomenon b The fact that men and women continue to receive unequal treatment at work is a point of contention among politicians, the media, and scholars. Common explanations for this disparity range from biological differences between the sexes to the conscious and unconscious biases that guide hiring and promotion decisions. Just One of the Guys? sheds new light on this phenomenon by analyzing the unique experiences of transgender men—people designated female at birth whose gender identity is male—on the job. Kristen Schilt draws on in-depth interviews and observational data to show that while individual transmen have varied experiences, overall their stories are a testament to systemic gender inequality. The reactions of coworkers and employers to transmen, Schilt demonstrates, reveal the ways assumptions about innate differences between men and women serve as justification for discrimination. She finds that some transmen gain acceptance—and even privileges—by becoming “just one of the guys,” that some are coerced into working as women or marginalized for being openly transgender, and that other forms of appearance-based discrimination also influence their opportunities. Showcasing the voices of a frequently overlooked group, Just One of the Guys? lays bare the social processes that foster forms of inequality that affect us all.

30 review for Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality

  1. 5 out of 5

    William

    Simply fascinating. It really challenged me to rethink the very constructs of gender and and reflect on how ingrained the very paradigm of gender shapes our daily lives. Also provided concrete real-life examples of gender discrimination, both implicit and explicit and clearly shows why feminism is needed (contrary to what some people suggest). *FYI, feminism = the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men. Simply fascinating. It really challenged me to rethink the very constructs of gender and and reflect on how ingrained the very paradigm of gender shapes our daily lives. Also provided concrete real-life examples of gender discrimination, both implicit and explicit and clearly shows why feminism is needed (contrary to what some people suggest). *FYI, feminism = the advocacy of women's rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Laurel Perez

    The interviews are the heart of Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality, and as they reveal what it means to live and work as a transman, the accounts also tell the greater story Schilt sensed—the men’s unique biographies testify to the difference between navigating the workplace as a woman and a man. What should compel any reader to pick up the book is the testimony of the interviewed about their treatment as women, men, and transmen in the workplace. Sch The interviews are the heart of Just One of the Guys?: Transgender Men and the Persistence of Gender Inequality, and as they reveal what it means to live and work as a transman, the accounts also tell the greater story Schilt sensed—the men’s unique biographies testify to the difference between navigating the workplace as a woman and a man. What should compel any reader to pick up the book is the testimony of the interviewed about their treatment as women, men, and transmen in the workplace. Schilt lets the men speak for themselves, her own voice and theoretical agenda gracefully receding to serve as a platform for their voices, emerging only to give us reminders of the patterns we should track in their accounts. It is a refreshing change in a culture that seems bent on telling transpeople’s stories for them and to them (further evidence of this fact is provided in Schilt’s opening chapter, an engaging, succinct history of “trans” in the context of its medicalization and the queer and feminist movements).

  3. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Ross

    Read this for the Sociology of Work and Gender class I audited this past semester. A bit dry and academic, but full of good research and interesting interview results. Transgender men have very mixed experiences in the workplace, but in general (especially if they are white and professional and tall) are accorded male benefits--respect, promotions, higher pay--for the exact same jobs they had done while female. Infuriating, especially as the current rise in transgender violence is so disproporti Read this for the Sociology of Work and Gender class I audited this past semester. A bit dry and academic, but full of good research and interesting interview results. Transgender men have very mixed experiences in the workplace, but in general (especially if they are white and professional and tall) are accorded male benefits--respect, promotions, higher pay--for the exact same jobs they had done while female. Infuriating, especially as the current rise in transgender violence is so disproportionately aimed at trans women.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Amu

    This book is based on academic studies and interviews with transgender people about their experiences at work during and after their shift. Transmen have faced far less problems at work than transwomen who tell about discrimination and bad treatment regurlarly. Apparently, adopting characters that are considered feminine is more suspicious to many. This has a lot to do with the fact that masculinity is more appreciated than femininity.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cyd

    Very well written report on the author's study over several years of transgender men's experiences at work. She interviewed 50+ FTM men and did extensive supporting interviews and research. Very interesting to me since I have a unique employment situation and have wondered what it would be like if I had to change jobs. She touches on the weirdness of living on both sides of male privilege, which I am experiencing now. Very well written report on the author's study over several years of transgender men's experiences at work. She interviewed 50+ FTM men and did extensive supporting interviews and research. Very interesting to me since I have a unique employment situation and have wondered what it would be like if I had to change jobs. She touches on the weirdness of living on both sides of male privilege, which I am experiencing now.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Joey

    This was rather interesting. The main focus seems to be on the experiences of trans men in reference to their experiences before, during, and after transition, and I appreciate the intersectionality which was a part of every chapter and section. I do think that a modern instance of this book would also include the experiences of transmasculine but not necessarily strictly binary trans men, but I'd recommend this book for a study into gender discrimination in the workplace for sure! This was rather interesting. The main focus seems to be on the experiences of trans men in reference to their experiences before, during, and after transition, and I appreciate the intersectionality which was a part of every chapter and section. I do think that a modern instance of this book would also include the experiences of transmasculine but not necessarily strictly binary trans men, but I'd recommend this book for a study into gender discrimination in the workplace for sure!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kendra

    What was it like to transition in the workplace as a transgender man in the 1990s or early 2000s? How do the experiences of transgender men and women differ? Schilt's research provides partial answers to these questions. Was recommended this book and wasn't disappointed - very clearly written, especially for academic work. What was it like to transition in the workplace as a transgender man in the 1990s or early 2000s? How do the experiences of transgender men and women differ? Schilt's research provides partial answers to these questions. Was recommended this book and wasn't disappointed - very clearly written, especially for academic work.

  8. 4 out of 5

    ArchaeoLibraryologist

    Great anthropological/sociological look at gender inequality through the view of trans men. Transgender individuals have the unique perspective (especially when transitioning later in life) of experiencing the world as being seen by society as first one gender, then another, and sometimes somewhere in between.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Veleda

    This book is an idea that was worthy of a journal idea, but struggled to fill a full book. The core ideas are solid, but I questioned some of the author's scholarship. For instance, she often cites decades old studies, including some from the 60's, which seems suspect for a subject that has changed as being transgender in the US. This book is an idea that was worthy of a journal idea, but struggled to fill a full book. The core ideas are solid, but I questioned some of the author's scholarship. For instance, she often cites decades old studies, including some from the 60's, which seems suspect for a subject that has changed as being transgender in the US.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Natalie Dunlap

    Note to self: read for Gender + Society course second semester freshman year

  11. 5 out of 5

    Danny

    Impeccably researched and cogently written, Kristen Schilt’s Just One of the Guys? is a must read for anyone interested in transgender, especially transmen, issues and/or persistent gender inequality in the workplace. The book opens with a concise history of the transgender community in America, from the gender clinic era of 1960s-1980s to the rise of transgender activism in the 1990s and finally to the era of gender variance and political rights of the 2000s. Theoretically, transmen should accr Impeccably researched and cogently written, Kristen Schilt’s Just One of the Guys? is a must read for anyone interested in transgender, especially transmen, issues and/or persistent gender inequality in the workplace. The book opens with a concise history of the transgender community in America, from the gender clinic era of 1960s-1980s to the rise of transgender activism in the 1990s and finally to the era of gender variance and political rights of the 2000s. Theoretically, transmen should accrue social and economic advantage when they transition into the male gender category. Schilt finds this to be true for only select subsets of the transmen population – those who physically “pass” as men, are white, and educated. These men receive invitations to the good ole boy’s club and become one of the guys. For those who don’t fit these criteria, a marginalized or tokenized life awaits them. What I found to be most salient in the book is Schilt’s discussion of our reliance on biological characteristics, i.e. genitalia, to determine sex and gender. However, her research supports previous research that in everyday interactions secondary sex characteristics matter more in determining sex and gender. As a transman transitions from female to male, he develops male features – deeper voice, facial hair, body hair, etc. – allowing him to pass as a man. But along with the transition come new expectations of aptitude not previously expected of them. For example, her interview subjects state that when they passed as men they were asked very frequently to fix IT issues, help with car maintenance, and lift heavy objects even if their female peers were more apt in these subjects. This is striking precisely because it flips our understanding of biological sex and natural differences schemas on its head. To my understanding, the ability of transmen to successfully cross the gender binary and achieve social maleness along with all its benefits indicates a social rather than biological bias in society. But it must noted that the binary still exists. Schilt’s research ultimately illuminates how systemic workplace gender inequality is firmly rooted on a male/female binary. Gender inequality will persist unless we deprogram ourselves from relying on the gender binary and strip our gender stereotypes.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Bryan

    Very unique and informative book. Who better to identify gender inequality than transmen, who have experienced the workplace both as women (first) and later as men. In some of the stories related in this book the sexual discrimination can be very blatant. In addition to identifying sexual discrimination against females in the workplace, this book also does a good job of show how transmen often have an easier time of transitioning than transwomen. It also shows the difficulty transmen can have wit Very unique and informative book. Who better to identify gender inequality than transmen, who have experienced the workplace both as women (first) and later as men. In some of the stories related in this book the sexual discrimination can be very blatant. In addition to identifying sexual discrimination against females in the workplace, this book also does a good job of show how transmen often have an easier time of transitioning than transwomen. It also shows the difficulty transmen can have with gay men, who are often not very supportive of transition.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Oliver

    Super excited about this book. Halfway through the introduction and it is awesome so far. Ties in with my work on transgender economics. Finished it and it was really great! I have to admit, it was scary reading about the male privilege that many trans men accept without question. I hope I can be strong enough to stand up to gender inequality in the workforce. I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in trans issues or income inequality.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Devin

    This book was alright, it really didn't read like a regular non-fiction book though--more like the author's thesis that was published, academic and dry. At times it was hard to read, but informative if you could get past the long sentences full of gender studies jargon. At best, good reading for someone whose college major is Gender & Women's Studies, but not so much if you're not fully immersed in the terms and syntax of the field. This book was alright, it really didn't read like a regular non-fiction book though--more like the author's thesis that was published, academic and dry. At times it was hard to read, but informative if you could get past the long sentences full of gender studies jargon. At best, good reading for someone whose college major is Gender & Women's Studies, but not so much if you're not fully immersed in the terms and syntax of the field.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Erica

    Useful reading both for an understanding of the transgender experience in the workplace and as a study of the specific challenges cis and transgender women face via the perspectives of transgender men.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Aran

    The explanation in the introduction, for the terminology used in the book, alone justifies reading it. This would be a fantastic introduction to the transmale community for journalists, educators and other people who have peripheral contact with the LGBT community.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Robyn

    Interesting research and fascinating read. Makes you wonder, why don't we all become men? We'd certainly get treated better. Also interesting insight into the very different workplace experiences of transmen as opposed to transwomen. Interesting research and fascinating read. Makes you wonder, why don't we all become men? We'd certainly get treated better. Also interesting insight into the very different workplace experiences of transmen as opposed to transwomen.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Janine

    It was about what I expected- someone's dissertation work adapted slightly for book form. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and wasn't in this case. The writing was solid and accessible, but not dumbed-down. This wasn't an earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting book, but I enjoyed it. It was about what I expected- someone's dissertation work adapted slightly for book form. That's not necessarily a bad thing, and wasn't in this case. The writing was solid and accessible, but not dumbed-down. This wasn't an earth-shattering, paradigm-shifting book, but I enjoyed it.

  19. 5 out of 5

    UChicagoLaw

    Recommended by Mary Anne Case

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mills College Library

    331.5 S3349 2010

  21. 5 out of 5

    Julie

  22. 5 out of 5

    Divya

  23. 5 out of 5

    Erik O.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Korver-Glenn

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meagan

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aiya Askana

  27. 4 out of 5

    Cathryn Lynch

  28. 5 out of 5

    Yunhee Roh

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

  30. 4 out of 5

    Michael Messner

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