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Transvestism…men in female dress
edited by Cauldwell

Submitter: I know Awful library books mostly features public libraries, but when I found this on our hospital library shelf I felt it was my duty to send it to you. Our mature Mental Health/Psychiatry section has some real gems in here. I think you’d agree that this 54-year-old book is truly awful…what was more awful is that it was checked out in 2006.

Holly: What a weird sub-title.  They wanted to be very clear that this book is about men dressing as women, and not the reverse.  The transvestite community has changed since 1961 for sure!  Good grief – weed this and get a new one!

0 Responses to Transvestism

  • Oh dear god I can only imagine the horrible rubbish this book has in it. I bet it says transvestites are also gay, and therefore mentally ill. **shudders**

  • “Transvestism: There are many different usages and meanings of the term transvestism. Most experts agree that the correct usage is when people dress in clothes normally worn by the opposite gender in order to identify with that gender in some manner.”
    PacifiCare Behavioral website.
    By this definition there are a few little girl tomboys I’m going to start watching more closely.
    Or, alternatively;
    There are lots of people I’m going to watch a lot less closely.

  • Surprised this was such a hot topic back then.

  • I need to see the photos,in order to see if it should be weeded. And,I have to say it,seeing men dressed as women is always funny, I think. Just my opinion~! They either go completely nuts with the hair removal or they don’t do enough. I honestly think they’re really interesting people…Especially the guests that were once on Project Runway…Headda Lettuce, Miss Understood,Sharon Needles,Phera Mones, Anita Greencard…they were hysterical!

  • and that old DSM that still defines homosexuality as a mental illness. Hospital libraries should be the last word in most current collections. Nothing much older than 3 years or so.

  • In all honestly the last person to check it out was probably a closeted Trans-person looking for any resources.

  • Thank goodness that “men in female dress” followed “Transvestism,” because otherwise I would have had no idea what this book was about.

  • @ plasticsurgeryinhouston: it certainly was… http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Ashley

  • Something tells me this doesn’t mention “executive transvestite,” Eddie Izzard’s term for his brand of transvestism, which he prefers to see as “equal clothing rights.”

  • It would be really amazing if it had a foreword by Ed Wood.

  • I looked up this book, and it seems that it could be worse; apparently Cauldwell had a penchant for sensationalist titles. And there’s a chapter from Harry Benjamin. So I suspect that it’s about rather more than transvestites, and might have something of interest in it. Though, as you have conjectured, there’s some newer and better stuff available.

    What hasn’t moved with the times, though, is the classification of books with trans content (I’m thinking here more of transsexuality, but I think this book is in similar territory). Even now, the Dewey system will place them under 616.85 (Diseases: Personality Disorders), where they can rub shoulders with books about child sex offenders; or 306.7 (Culture and Institutions: Sexual Relations). Wrong, so very wrong.


  • It’s pretty hard to see from just the title why this book is such a menace and should be thrown away. And what’s wrong with the title, anyway? Some people seem to think it’s superfluous, others that it’s too precise — but surely it’s up to the author what s/he chooses to write about? This unexplained, gleeful hatred of books more than a few years old is truly puzzling. Wouldn’t it be more interesting to put down the pitchforks and burning torches and explain what makes it a “real gem”?

    • Because the psycological and medical information is completely out of date.

      Think of it like if we still had medical books that talk about the different “humors” of the body. It’s that bad.

      • And we know this just from a glance at the front cover? Wow, we really are clever!

        The book is 50 years old, not 500, so I doubt it really is “that bad”. But without so much as a glance between the covers, who can say?

      • When a medical book is over 5 years old, it might as well be 500. Medical info changes quicker then Britney Spears changes boyfriends.

    • I cannot understand how so many commenters come to this site and see “pitchforks and burning torches”… Someone MIGHT be able to make the argument that some of the criticism is a pushing it a little but, overall, everyone seems pretty reasonable.

      This specific book is a good example of material that’s substantially out of date and consideration for its removal is warranted. No one’s suggesting that we hunt this Dr. Cauldwell down.

  • By the way I’d say that cover is rather stylish, from a design point of view. You rarely see that sort of discreet good taste in book design nowadays, but they did it all the time in the 60s. I bet if this poor book had escaped notice for a few more decades it would have been hailed as a gem in the non-ironic sense. Its crime is falling into that friendless gap between being current and historical.

    • In a medical library especially, I’d say that its crime is that it is outdated. And I *have* researched it, if only enough to reach that conclusion. Justifying a book’s presence by its aesthetic qualities is getting several days into dodgy territory, surely….