If you change one, you must change them all

*bolded terms refer to an authorized LCSH term*

If you read my last post about Transgenderism then you know that LCSH uses the term as an umbrella for a wide variety of gender non-conformant identities and behaviors. As I said last time, that term at one point was indeed used to indicate a broader set of identities and behaviors, but now is mostly used [by anti-trans activists] to refer specifically to people whose gender identity does not match that which they were assigned at birth — a much more narrow definition.


These conflations in LCSH however, have trickled down to another heading: Transgender people. The narrower terms assigned are:


Christian transgender people
Female impersonators
Jewish transgender people
Libraries and transgender people
Male impersonators
Social work with transgender people
Transgender children


[Emphasis mine] the highlighted terms above leap out to me as terribly incorrectly placed. [I’ll acknowledge here that the specific relationship between Transsexuals and Transgender people may be improperly constructed as well]


The ‘impersonator’ headings have variant terms of ‘Drag queens’ and ‘Drag kings’ respectively and have parallel scope notes of:

Here are entered works on men who impersonate women, generally for purposes of entertainment or comic effect. Works on women who impersonate men, generally for purposes of entertainment or comic effect, are entered under Male impersonators. Works on persons, especially males, who assume the dress and manner of the opposite sex for psychological gratification are entered under Transvestites.

[the sexes are swapped in the scope note for Male impersonators]

Here’s the problem:

Female/male impersonators cover a wide range of things from theatrical cross-sex performance to drag performers but neither type of performer is inherently a trans person. Certainly some trans people have performed drag professionally, but it is an emphatic error to place drag performers as NT under Transgender people.


Transvestites doesn’t belong here either. As the scope note indicates above, LCSH understands that it’s primarily a practice among straight men, for reasons other than entertainment or public performance. As with the impersonator headings, a variant term, ‘cross dressers’ is actually preferred by practitioners.


LCSH continuing to collapse varied forms of gender performance and expression under Transgender people does harm to trans people, especially trans women, and plays right into the hands of the politicians, their malicious laws, and anti-trans activists.


Recommendation:  Delete the BT connecting Male impersonators and Female impersonators to Transgender people. Delete the BT connecting Transvestites to Transgender people and change the preferred term to Cross dressers. Future consideration is to make separate headings for Drag kings/queens as NTs of Male/Female impersonators.


*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]

A Long Overdue Post

So many things get lost to the edges. Too many commitments, too little motivation, etc. etc.

For many a moon I’ve been meaning to write up how Alex and I turned my QueerLCSH into a libGuide. I’m finally doing it!


The very first thing, of course, was the QueerLCSH itself which you can read ALL about over at that link. (Scroll past the updates for the original post and a link to the headings themselves)

Then I was alerted by Jessica Colbert that she had made a very cool LibGuide at her institution using my headings! Clicking any of the headings brings the user directly into the library catalog, performing a subject search.

Naturally I thought, “hey, why not do that here too?”

I talked to Alex about the idea and they were totally on board and excited. The question was how to turn a looooooong list of headings into a LibGuide without it being totally tedious?

As it usually is (to me), the answer was XSLT. Remember that I made my QueerLCSH by painstakingly (and tediously) downloading records 1-by-1 from id.loc.gov as RDF/XML (MADS and SKOS). That means that I still have all the raw material to work with and transform however I want.

Alex pointed out that even if I could generate the links easily, we’d have to load those links into the LibGuide one at a time, thereby returning us to tedium land. I reached out to Springshare Support, and learned that if you upload a set of links as a database, they can then flip them to be link assets. I don’t know why that power isn’t given to users of LibGuide software, but I was glad they were willing to do it for us.

At this point we were ready for me to generate the links. I wrote the following XSLT transformation:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>
<xsl:stylesheet xmlns:xsl=http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform&#8221;
    xmlns:rdf=http://www.w3.org/1999/02/22-rdf-syntax-ns#&#8221;        xmlns:ng=http://www.netanelganin.com&#8221;
    exclude-result-prefixes=“xs” version=“2.0”>

    <xsl:function name=“ng:norm” as=“xs:string”>
<xsl:param name=“arg” as=“xs:string”/>
<xsl:sequence select=“normalize-space(lower-case(translate($arg, ‘-.,’, ‘   ‘)))”/>

    <xsl:template match=“/rdf:RDF”>
            select=“madsrdf:Topic/madsrdf:authoritativeLabel | madsrdf:ComplexSubject/madsrdf:authoritativeLabel”>
<xsl:sort select=“ng:norm(.)”/>

    <xsl:template match=“madsrdf:authoritativeLabel”>





It’s pretty straight forward — there’s a function which I use to normalize the headings, it turns commas, periods and dashes into spaces. Then all the headings get sorted, and tossed into a big list. I’ve highlighted the most important part in bold. This is what’s called a ‘deep link’. I learned while doing this that you can’t just perform a subject search in Alma and then create a link based on that. It’ll decay eventually. You need to build a subject search using this deep link thing. Here’s some Ex Libris documentation on deep links.

As you can see there’s an “ng:norm(.)” buried in the middle of the deep link, that’s where the heading slides in. This particular link is a subject search, but it could easily be a browse search.

So this stylesheet processed all the headings and turned them into links which bring a user directly into our catalog. We tossed ’em all into an Excel spreadsheet, uploaded it to the LibGuide software, and then Springshare turned them into link assets!

Pretty cool, right?

Feel free to snag this XSLT and do the same for your institution, or if you’re interested in having something similar but aren’t sure how — let me know and I’ll try to help you out!

Some interesting things to consider:

  • We made no attempt to guarantee that any of the subject searches would actually return results. While that does mean patrons are presented with topics we don’t actually have any resources for, we couldn’t think of how to maintain the upkeep as new books entered our catalog. How would we know if new material matched a topic which we had previously removed?
  • We didn’t add any of the subject headings which were only added toLCSH for validation purposes, e.g. “African American gays–Fiction”, “Gay couples–Legal status, laws, etc” (in truth I’ve never really understood why they do that…)
  • We didn’t add any subdivisions unless the LGBT aspect was in that subdivision, i.e. “World War, 1939-1945–Participation, Gay” but not “Bisexuality — Religious aspects”. We felt that performing the subject search of the main topical term itself without the subdivisions would probably be sufficient.
  • If you do decide to include subdivisions, consider the pattern headings, ex. “Gay rights–Religious aspects–Baptists, [Catholic Church, etc.]” searching that subject string as is would be unfruitful because that isn’t how pattern headings look in the wild.
  • We opted not to include any of the Library of Congress Genre/Form Terms or Library of Congress Demographic Group Terms because in our ILS it is not possible for users to actually target a search to those fields. If it becomes possible, we’ll add ’em in!
  • Scope notes: keep ’em or not?



After the initial transformations were done, I stepped back from the project and Alex now maintains the LibGuide. They check the New LCSH each month and add any new relevant terms themselves.

It’s time (it’s past time) for Queer in the LCSH

I was cataloging Violence against queer people / Doug Meyer, and again came up against the non-existence of ‘Queer people’ in the LCSH.

Offers the first investigation of anti-queer violence that focuses on the role played by race, class, and gender. Drawing on interviews with forty-seven victims of violence, Meyer shows that LGBT people encounter significantly different forms of violence – and perceive that violence quite differently – based on their race, class, and gender.

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that there is no term to express intersectionality in the LCSH, I was frustrated by what terms I did have to assign to this resource.

The topical subdivision –Violence against is an obvious one, but what term to use for the Class of persons against whom the violence is enacted?

As I’ve now spent a great deal of time with the various LGBTQ subject headings (see this post, if you missed it), I knew the answer was the term “Sexual minorities“.

Check out some of its 450s:

  • GLBT people
  • GLBTQ people
  • LGBT people
  • LGBTQ people

That’s the term LCSH prefers for any kind of umbrella term for the gamut of sexual identities. But does ‘Queer’ have better literary warrant? Let’s take a look:

  • “ti:Sexual minorities”, all resources that have ‘Sexual minorities’ in the title has about 4000 hits in WorldCat
  • “ti:Queer”, all resources that have ‘Queer’ in the title has about 24,000 hits in WorldCat

Now obviously this is not a scientific demonstration that ‘Queer’ is the preferred term in use, there will be many false positives for the latter. But that should at least be enough to demonstrate that it needs re-evaluating.

In fact, they already have two terms using ‘Queer’ just not as a term for people.

Then it came time to catalog the darn thing. HV6250.4.H66 was where it ended up which is less than ideal. The HV6250.4.A-Z section is given for:

Criminology. Victims of crimes. Victimology. Special classes of persons as victims, A-Z

‘Homosexuals’ is the .H66 cutter and it’s the only one on the given list that applies to sexual identities. Even checking LCs catalog one finds the need for a more expansive cutter provided beyond homosexuality.

All of these books are cataloged by LC as HV6250.4.H66, but as you can see, they do not limit their scope to ‘homosexuality’ as neither does the resource in hand above. We need a Q in our cutters.

Inconsistency in LGBTQ Terms

As you probably saw in the last post, I’ve spent a bunch of time recently working with all the LCSH that are about, or related to, queer folks. There are many terms that aren’t accurate, in-use by people, or even available.

But despite those oversights, willful or otherwise, an oddity that I noticed was an inconsistency about the use of the term ‘gay’.

There’s a term, ‘Gays’ (whose preferred heading used to be ‘Homosexuals’), which is a BT of ‘Gay men’ as well as ‘Lesbians’ (which itself is a UF for ‘Gay women’). So it would seem that under LCSH ‘Gays’ is a non-gender specific (though binary, as LCSH has no terms as of yet to express any people outside of the gender binary) meant to encompass all gay people.

This usage isn’t unheard of at all outside LCSH, indeed I used to hear ‘gay marriage’ pretty often until ‘same-sex marriage’ became more prevalent. I assume a healthy dose of societal-misogyny and sexism worked to elevate the term traditionally used for men, to be the term used for both men and women.

But the problem is how inconsistent LCSH is about this — consider the following:

Gays–Nazi persecution (May Subd Geog)
UF   Gay Holocaust
Gay men–Nazi persecution
Holocaust, Gay
Nazi persecution of gay men
Nazi persecution of gays

‘Gays’ here is standing in for ‘Gay men’!

There’s also several headings beginning with ‘Gay and lesbian’ ex:

‘Gay and lesbian studies’

‘Gay and lesbian dance parties’

So which is it, LCSH? Does ‘gay’ encompass both gay men, and lesbians? Or is ‘gay’ a shorthand for ‘gay men’?

Up to date Headings

Original Post

I saw this tweet a few days ago, and thought to myself — challenge accepted!

Here’s a very up-to-date and comprehensive subject heading guide for queer folks in the LCSH/LCGFT/LCDGT

If all you want is the link, have at it. If you’re interested in a bit more of the ways and means and hows — here’s more of that:

  1. I went to id.loc.gov and searched the following terms:
    1. Sexual minorities (and minority), queer, lesbian, gay, gender, orientation, intersex, transgender, transexual, and bisexual.
  2. Downloaded each relevant record (some hits with those terms were not) as RDF/XML (MADS and SKOS)
  3. Created a master RDF/XML file, available for your perusal, here
  4. Wrote an XSLT to make this (Class Web inspired) visual display, available for your perusal, here