The Fallacy of the Transgender Skeleton

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Gender variance is likely a cross-cultural phenomenon with deep antiquity that bioarchaeological data can document effectively. Yet, recent reports that have gone viral in mediascapes, the “transsexual” cavemen being one pointed example discussed in this chapter, should give investigators pause. That is, describing ancient socio-sexual lives as such complicates normative notions about the body, gender, and sexuality, but the designation is a fallacy since these terms are modern Western inventions. The use of trans- more generally to describe identities or experiences in the bioarchaeological record points to effacement of recent sociopolitical processes, as well as a disregard for dimensions of sex/gender systems that are contingent and dynamic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationBioarchaeology and Social Theory
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages12
StatePublished - 2019

Publication series

NameBioarchaeology and Social Theory
ISSN (Print)2567-6776
ISSN (Electronic)2567-6814


  • Gender variance
  • Heteronormativity
  • Maya
  • Mediascape
  • Native American two-spirit
  • Transgender

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Gender Studies
  • Urban Studies


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