Science, Politics and Clinical Intervention: Harry Benjamin, Transsexuality and the Problem of Heternormativity

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Harry Benjamin (1885–1986) is the founding father of contemporary western transsexualism. This article examines Harry Benjamin’s work on transsexuality from the standpoint of the interrelations between science, politics and clinical intervention, with particular reference to issues concerning transsexuality and the ‘problem’ of heteronormativity. The article argues that Harry Benjamin’s writings evidence a shift from a relative openness towards diversity in his original formulations, to an increasing endorsement of the heteronormative in his later publications. In the service of science, politics and good clinical practice, the time is ripe to reclaim the work of Harry Benjamin, without its later heteronormative cast, and return to his original openness to diversity as evidenced in his clinical experience.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306-328
Number of pages23
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2005


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