Transgender Studies: Literature in an Evolving Field (March 2022)

This essay first appeared in the March 2022 issue of Choice (volume 59 | issue 7).


Transgender studies became a distinct field of academic research in the early 1990s, emerging out of the broader discipline of LGBT studies when the initial focus on gay men and lesbians expanded to include bisexual and transgender people. This new visibility masks a complex, older history of publication and research that librarians wishing to develop and maintain collections in this field should be aware of. Much of this body of literature initially appeared in the form of journal articles in periodicals in the fields of medicine, psychology, psychiatry, and sexology, a tradition that has continued into the present, augmented by specialized titles focused explicitly on transgender subjects and available in both print and online. This essay will examine the patterns of monograph publication, archive creation, website use, and journal formation across the three decades of the evolution of transgender studies. Works that are reprints of specifically themed issues of journals on trans subjects and books on counseling and trans psychology have been omitted, the latter because general works on trans studies by their very nature deal with the psychology of gender identity.

About the Author:

Robert Ridinger is a full professor in the University Libraries at Northern Illinois and a veteran writer and researcher in social sciences bibliography with a focus on sexuality and LGBT subjects. Among his recent publications is “Male Sex Work in the Library Collection: Discoveries in the Stacks,” published in The Routledge Handbook of Male Sex Work, Culture, and Society. Professor Ridinger also writes the bibliographical Off the Shelf  column for the ALA Rainbow Round Table.