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29 January 2008

Thomas Kando. Sociologist

Thomas Kando (1941- ) was born in Hungary and educated at the Universities of Amsterdam and Minnesota. Professor of Sociology at California State University, Sacramento until his retirement in 2003.

He was at Minnesota looking for a dissertation topic when the university’s medical school did its first sex-change operations. He interviewed 17 post-op MTFs, aged 21 to 55, two weeks to two years post-op.

He found four basic ways of adjusting to being female:
  1. the housewife who desired respectability; 
  2. the stripper who flaunts her stigma; 
  3. the aspiring housewife who cannot find a husband, not being attractive enough;
  4. the career woman who is well-educated and doesn’t try to pass. 
He found his subjects to be more stereotypically feminine than other women, and referred to them as ‘reactionary’ and ‘the uncle toms of the sexual revolution’. In later years he regretted his choice of dissertation, calling it ‘stupid’, ‘grotesque’ and ‘boring’.

Kando's major follower is Janice Raymond, who spends 7 pages in The Transsexual Empire enthusiastically summarizing his work.

Carol Riddell emphasizes that the short period post operative is too short. That trans women become much like cis women after a few years.

Bolin directly refutes his conclusions, by finding something close to the opposite to be the case.

  • Thomas Kando. “Passing and Stigma Management: The Case of the Transsexual’.The Sociological Quarterly 13, Fall 1972.
  • Thomas Kando. Sex Change; The Achievement of Gender Identity Among Feminized Transsexuals. Springfield, Ill: Thomas 1973.
  • Thomas Kando. I Spent My Life Practicing Politically Incorrect 54-6.
  • Janice G. Raymond The Transsexual Empire: The Making of the She-male. Boston: Beacon Press. 1979: 79-86.
  • Carol Riddell. “Divided Sisterhood : A Critical Review of Janice Raymond's 'The Transsexual Empire' “. Liverpool: News from Nowhere 1980. Reprinted in Stephen Whittle & Susan Stryker (eds).The Transgender Studies Reader.Routledge.752 pp. 2006: 146, 152.
  • Anne Bolin. In Search of Eve: Transsexual Rites of Passage. South Hadley, Mass: Bergin & Garvey, 1988: 113-6.

Kando's results were never replicated. What went wrong?
  • His sample of 17 was far too small, although of course far larger than that of Michael Bailey.
  • His subjects were at most two years post-operative. This is too short a period for the questions asked.
  • He asked the wrong questions, and did not respect his subjects.

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