Transgenderism

*bolded terms refer to an authorized LCSH term*

 It is no secret that LCSH is a mess when it comes to gender and sexuality. Today, I want to focus specifically on a single term in the hierarchies of trans identities. [With an eye towards continuing this look at other terms]
First: Transgenderism, whose scope note reads:
Here are entered works on the various manifestations of cross-gender orientation, such as transvestism, transsexualism, male or female impersonation, intersexuality, etc., treated collectively.
From this well springs forth a great deal of trouble, because what even is this term? A google search [March 18, 2017] reveals the following from page 1: [CN: ANTI-TRANS RHETORIC]
  • Wikipedia [Transgender]
  • Focus on the Family [Understanding “Transgenderism”]
  • Focus on the Family [Transgenderism – Our Position]
  • Oxford English Dictionary [transgenderism]
  • Federalist [Psychiatry Professor: ‘Transgenderism’ Is Mass Hysteria Similar To 1980s-Era Junk Science]
  • Daily Wire [Report: Transgenderism Not Supported By Science]
  • Daily Caller [Journal: Transgenderism ‘Not Supported By Scientific Evidence’]
  • Huffington Post portal [Three articles all affirming trans people’s humanity]
  • Pacific Standard [Five Studies: What You Need to Know About Transgenderism, According to the Research]
  • New Yorker [WHAT IS A WOMAN? The dispute between radical feminism and transgenderism.]
  • Public Discourse [The Absurdity of Transgenderism: A Stern but Necessary Critique]
  • National Review [Making Sense of Transgenderism]
So from my count that’s 8 anti-trans hits, 2 reference sources [one of which doesn’t even use the term in the header], 2 mostly positive hits
The term in LCSH’s use is meant to be a broad umbrella to cover the concept gender non-conformity. That is indeed a useful concept for which to have a term, albeit a broad one. Unfortunately the scope of the term in its modern usage [the heading was entered in 2007] has shifted to be much more narrow. All of the above sources are specifically referring to the concept that people’s gender identities don’t match their assignment at birth.
Let’s look at the heading’s usage in WorldCat [search of su:Transgenderism, limited to 2016, books, first 10 hits]

Of these 10 — only a single one [Transantiquity, 5] has been assigned Transgenderism to mean anything other than “the concept that some people’s gender identities don’t match their assignment at birth”. I contend that the vast majority of assignments will follow suit.

We need a term for that concept, and perhaps Transgenderism is that term, perhaps not [edit: see below, 2017-03-22]  But just as importantly we need a different term for the wider scope of “gender non-conformity”. If LCSH wants there to be an umbrella term which encompasses what the current scope note above [all the way at the top!] does, the concept that there are people who cross dress for sexual satisfaction, perform drag, are transsexual, are transgender, are intersex — it cannot be Transgenderism because that is simply not how the term is being used, neither in resources, nor in cataloger application.

Recommendation: Add new term to LCSH for the broad concept of gender non-conformity. Limit the scope of Transgenderism [or replace the term for one which people actually use] to the concept of being transgender specifically.


Edit: 2017-03-22

After consideration, and checking sources — I’ve come to the understanding that Transgenderism must be removed from LCSH, contrary to the above recommendation. From the sources:

“This is not a term commonly used by transgender people. This is a term used by anti-transgender activists to dehumanize transgender people and reduce who they are to “a condition.” — GLAAD

Much like those who still refer to gay people exclusively as “homosexuals,” the majority of the people who use the word “transgenderism” are either biased against the community, such as the discredited anti-trans “expert”Dr. Paul McHugh, or harbor hatred toward the trans community, like the right-wing organization classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Family Research Council. — Advocate

So one thing I want to ask: why do we need this term? That is, are there resources about “the concept that some people’s gender identities don’t match their assignment at birth” that would not be better met with the term Transgender people?  I’m not convinced. On the other hand there are many dual terms for “Concept” and then “concept as manifested in people”. Ex. PovertyPoorBisexualityBisexualsDisabilitiesPeople with disabilities. I bring this up because I don’t think that the PSD would be so amenable to removing the noun-concept word entirely.

Edited Recommendation: Add new term to LCSH for the broad concept of gender non-conformity [with the scope note of the current term Transgenderism.] Make the term Transgenderism a variant of Transgender people. [Or find a better term for the concept of trans-ness]

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