The Riddle of Gender

Science, Activism, and Transgender Rights

Publisher: Anchor
When Deborah Rudacille learned that a close friend had decided to transition from female to male, she felt compelled to understand why.

Coming at the controversial subject of transsexualism from several angles–historical, sociological, psychological, medical–Rudacille discovered that gender variance is anything but new, that changing one’s gender has been met with both acceptance and hostility through the years, and that gender identity, like sexual orientation, appears to be inborn, not learned, though in some people the sex of the body does not match the sex of the brain.

Informed not only by meticulous research, but also by the author’s interviews with prominent members of the transgender community, The Riddle of Gender is a sympathetic and wise look at a sexual revolution that calls into question many of our most deeply held assumptions about what it means to be a man, a woman, and a human being.



I began the research for this book in the way that I approach every scientific subject that interests me, by searching the literature. I soon discovered that far from being a product of the modern world, gender variance has been documented across cultures and in every epoch of history....
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“Sympathetic and well-researched. . . . Lively enough to be a good introduction for the educated lay reader and documented enough for the scholar.” –Publishers Weekly

“Amazing! This is the long-awaited fusion of science, criticism, and compassion that scholars of gender–and everybody else–have been waiting for. The Riddle of Gender is meticulous, funny, brilliant, and readable. . . . Not just for those interested in the enigmas of sex and gender, but for those interested in the universal mystery of how we become ourselves.” –Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There: a Life in Two Genders