Maybe we should define “gender” for purposes of the 375 as the answer to the question: Of which gender are the pronouns commonly used for this person in works about the person? And we could give dates for the period of time in which that gender of pronouns was or is used. Under this definition, I think we can safely provide a beginning/ending date of 2015 for Jenner. I believe the media used masculine pronouns pretty consistently through 2014.
This would make no attempt to guess a person’s internal gender identification at any moment in time, and would merely recognize the state of discourse about this person in media. Information of this sort would be no more prone to inaccuracy than any in 372, 373 or 374 fields. More information about the nuances could be recorded in 670 if the creator of the authority record, or the subject of it, desired.
We talk about “bibliographic identities.” Perhaps it’s fair enough to extend that concept to cover the fact that while James Morris may have considered himself a woman before he changed his name, his bibliographic identity was masculine. I feel certain that author information in his books used masculine pronouns, and that reviewers did as well.
Does this help us create a picture of a particular transgender person in an authority record? Not really, I would think. Basically it is an attempt to save the 375 field, which for most persons will be relatively unambiguous for all practical purposes, and thus helpful information, by grounding it in a somewhat safe and relatively unambiguous conception. To say that Jenner was commonly perceived as male through 2014, even though her wishes to change that were known by increasingly large numbers of people during that time, seems fair and accurate to me.
How could we change the name “gender?” “Perceived gender?” It sounds a bit awkward but it is straightforward enough, I think. And, you know, that might be valuable for personae like Dame Edna. Her perceived gender is certainly female, even if there is a man behind it (I’m assuming for purposes of argument that Barry Humphries identifies as male). There would be no reason to waffle in the 375.
Is the 375 field helpful and worth saving? I think so, and many people have given reasons why. Most of them have to do with a potential future in which attributes are used in research, I think.
The authority for Chaz Bono has this note: “A two-part Entertainment Tonight feature in June 2009 explained that Bono's transition had started a year before.” Is there any evidence that Bono disputes this?
I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the Entertainment Tonight program. But if people come out at a certain point, what else do we as catalogers have to go on?
I notice there is a publication from 1998 to 1999 called “Family outing” with statement of responsibility: “Chastity Bono with Billie Fitzpatrick.” The book jacket has this note: “Chastity Bono weaves her own dramatic story into those of other gays and lesbians to illustrate the phases, pitfalls, and rewards of coming out ..."
So apparently Chaz called himself Chastity during part of the period he was an advocate for gender or sexual orientation issues. (I don’t know what the correct terminology would be for that period.) I’m not sure, but perhaps at this point he had come out as a lesbian but had not yet decided to become a man. Correct me on this point if you know the history better. There may be two “coming out” transitions, one as a lesbian, and one as a man.
Think of this scenario. In the year 2050, a person graduates from library school and becomes a cataloger. She has never heard of Chaz or Chastity Bono. She has to catalog a book by or about Chaz. Given that the authority record has 372 Transgenderism ǂ2 lcsh, it will be helpful for her to have some explanation of why he was called Chastity in 1998 and Chaz in 2008. The 670’s give that information in narrative form, and the 375’s help to index female and male writers. If we have two 375’s on the record, Chaz Bono will be indexed as both female and male. I agree with the people who say there may be no need for another 375 Transgender man.
Recording dates in association with gender is not ideal because gender identity is not a linear process, and it's certainly not a binary process which this method reinforces.
Look at Chaz Bono's authority record. We really don't know when exactly he decided that he was male, but we guess "2008?" -- but even that narrative in insulting. Many trans* individuals struggle their entire life with gender, and here we are simply assigning a date of when they decided to be "out" on their authority record. This raises another issue about trans* individuals who don't want to be out about their transition, and here we are recording it in their authority file.
I'll go back to the original argument that recording gender reinforces regressive ideas of binary gender identities that are tied to culture, time, and context. Recording dates associated with gender treats this lifelong complicated process is as simple as someone changing their name when they get married. And it's not that simple.
We need to think carefully and critically about how and why we record gender in authority files. I don't understand why we are recording gender for fictitious and mythical identities. I can see the research potential. I understand it's necessary and useful to distinguish names in certain situations (Chinese language names are a great example of this). But we're being asked as catalogers to use our judgement and guess something that is complicated and deeply personal for a some people.
University of Vermont
On 6/8/2015 12:27 PM, Benjamin A Abrahamse wrote:
My question is: given that MARC field 375 supports date ranges ($s start period, $t end period) why do we need to record "transgender" (as a noun or an adjective) at all? If we record the dates an individual identified themselves as one gender, and the dates they identified themselves differently, why is that not perfectly sufficient?
(Though quite honestly I'm not sure why we feel the need to record any gender information to begin with.)
Acquisitions and Discovery Enhancement
Chris Bourg, the new director of the MIT libraries spoke at the annual Boston Library Consortium meeting about “de-centering” the white, male bias in library collections. Having access to gender and race information in authority records could be useful if one is trying to locate works by under-represented populations.
University of New Hampshire Library
18 Library Way
Durham, NH 03824
While several have expressed that recording gender in an authority record may not be a good idea, we also need to be aware that there are researchers who are very interested in knowing the gender of the creator of works. In the past few years I have been cataloging hundreds of scores, donated by a faculty member who specifically collected these works because they were composed by female songwriters.
In our bibliographic records, there is no good way to identify creators by gender. I have been diligently adding the 675 field to authority records to enable this kind of searching in the anticipated linked data library world. I utilize several reference works in this endeavor that are specifically concerned with women composers, songwriters, and musicians.
Perhaps the desires of these researchers might be something to keep in mind.
University of California, Davis
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