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Beacon Press, Spring 2019

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    9780807038208 Electronic book text, Reflowable, , EPUB, $31.99 CAD
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    Distributor: Penguin Random House Availability: On Sale Date: Jan 02, 2080 Carton Quantity: 12
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Wondrous Transformations
Harry Benjamin, a Maverick Physician at the Birth of the Transgender Revolution
By (author): Alison Li
9780807038192 Hardcover English General Trade MEDICAL / History Jan 02, 2080
$33.95 CAD
Cancelled 6 x 9 in 272 pages Beacon Press
A narrative history of hormone use told through the eventful life of Dr. Harry Benjamin, a pioneer in reshaping our notions of sex and gender.

Today, it is standard to think of ourselves as hormonal beings. We blame "raging hormones" for the tempests of puberty and midlife and spend our days "running on adrenalin" in "testosterone-fueled" workplaces. Yet this view is relatively recent.

Alison Li tells the fascinating history of the rise of hormone use through the life of one of its foremost pioneers. A daring explorer in the areas of sex and aging, as well as a celebrity doctor in 20s New York, German-born physician Harry Benjamin (1885-1986) revolutionized the science of hormones. He devoted his later life to helping people transform themselves. With famous patients such as Christine Jorgensen, Jan Morris, and Renée Richards, he would come to be known as the "Father of Transsexualism." Benjamin's work was groundbreaking in mid-century America, when homosexuality and any behavior that crossed gender lines was not only pathologized but criminalized. However, though his patients remember him as a compassionate physician, today, his approach to transgender medicine would be categorized as heteronormative and outdated. Li positions Benjamin as a complicated figure who both represents a model of his time, and a physician who changed medicine for the better.

This gripping history captures the beginning of the gender identity movement and highlights how over the course of the twentieth century Benjamin helped pave the way for our understanding of ourselves as chemically malleable beings.

Alison Li is an historian of science and medicine who writes about medical research, hormones, and the culture in which they were shaped. She is the author of J. B. Collip and the Development of Medical Research in Canada. She has a PhD in the history and philosophy of science and technology from the University of Toronto and was Assistant Professor of Science and Technology Studies at York University. She is now writes full-time and lives in Toronto with her husband and two children.

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