A controversial new book written by a controversial feminist, Gender Hurts is a critique of transgenderism and its implications. Jeffreys argues that there is nothing progressive about individuals identifying as the opposite sex and procuring hormones and surgeries to transform themselves.
As Jeffreys notes in the introduction chapter, there is a vacuum of recent literature criticising transgenderism, which this book seeks to fill. The book covers a broad range of sub-topics, including the transgendering of children, how female partners of trans individuals are affected, and how disagreements over where to include trans individuals fractures the feminist movement, as well as chapters on male-to-female and female-to-male trans adults.
The book has been branded by critics as transphobic, and this is indeed the impression one gets in parts of the introduction. The first two chapters discuss the socio-political circumstances under which transgenderism came to be understood as an illness requiring treatment by invasive surgeries and experimental concoctions of hormones. The book is grounded in theory, but was not wholly written from the ivory tower. Interviews with trans individuals who have regretted their decisions, and with the partners of trans individuals, provide depth to the book.
In particular, the chapter on the transgendering of children was a fascinating read. It shows how children's non-conformity to gender roles, through actions such as a girl cutting up her party dress on her first birthday and a two-year-old boy disliking boys' toys, are read as signs that the child is transgender. Jeffreys makes a gutsy comparison to eugenics in the chapter on transgendering of children, which seems to be sensationalist until one reads through her argument.
While Gender Hurts was a difficult book to begin reading, once you have ventured through the first chapter or two, it is difficult to put down.