Genny Beemyn is Director of the Stonewall Center at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. They have published more than a half dozen books, including A Queer Capital: A History of Gay Life in Washington, D.C.; The Lives of Transgender People (with Susan Rankin); and Queer Studies: A Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Anthology (coedited with Mickey Eliason).
From the turn of the twentieth century through the 1980s, Beemyn explores the experiences of gay people in Washington, showing how they created their own communities, fought for their rights, and, in the process, helped to change the country. Combining rich personal stories with keen historical analysis, A Queer Capital provides insights into LGBT life, the history of Washington, D.C., and African American life and culture in the twentieth century.
Beemyn and Rankin track the formation of gender identity across individuals and groups, beginning in childhood and marking the "touchstones" that led participants to identify as transgender. They explore when and how participants noted a feeling of difference because of their gender, the issues that caused them to feel uncertain about their gender identities, the factors that encouraged them to embrace a transgender identity, and the steps they have taken to meet other transgender individuals. Beemyn and Rankin's findings expose the kinds of discrimination and harassment experienced by participants in the U.S. and the psychological toll of living in secrecy and fear. They discover that despite increasing recognition by the public of transgender individuals and a growing rights movement, these populations continue to face bias, violence, and social and economic disenfranchisement. Grounded in empirical data yet rich with human testimony, The Lives of Transgender People adds uncommon depth to the literature on this subject and introduces fresh pathways for future research.