On Male Femaling: A Grounded Theory Approach to Cross-Dressing and Sex-Changing

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This preliminary report is a study in grounded theory based on eleven years of qualitative sociological research with male cross‐dressers and sex‐changers in the United Kingdom. It reviews the cognate literature from the standpoint of grounded theory and re‐conceptualises the research area in terms of the basic social process of ‘male femaling’. ‘Male femalers’ are males who wish to ‘female’ in various ways, in various contexts, at various times, with various stagings and with varying consequences. Three major modes of ‘male femaling’ are introduced: ‘body femaling’, ‘erotic femaling’ and ‘gender femaling’, and set within a phased ‘femaling’ career path. Typical features of each phase are detailed, indicating oscillations between the major facets of sex, sexuality and gender frequently confronted in each phase. Particular reference is made to the inter‐relations between the three modes of ‘femaling’, to the categorisations ‘transvestite’ and ‘transsexual’, and to the constitution of ‘femaling’ self and world as being variously sexed, sexualised and gendered.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-29
Number of pages29
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Feb 1993


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