Am I Still a Woman?

Hysterectomy and Gender Identity

Jean Elson
Book Cover

PB: $28.95
EAN: 978-1-59213-211-9
Publication: Jan 04

HC: $76.50
EAN: 978-1-59213-210-2
Publication: Dec 03

264 pages
5.5 x 8.25
7 tables

What makes a woman a woman?

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 (pdf).


Recent scientific findings regarding the potential dangers associated with hormone replacement therapies bring renewed attention to the relationship between women's bodies and gender identity. In Am I Still A Woman? Jean Elson offers the testimony of women who have thought deeply about this issue as a result of gynecological surgery.

For the women in this book, gynecological surgery for benign conditions proved to be a crisis that prompted questions about the meanings of sexual and reproductive organs in relation to being female and feminine. Is a woman who no longer menstruates still a woman? What about a woman who can no longer bear children? Elson looks closely at the differences in responses to understand the impact of surgery and lost fertility on sexuality and partnerships as well as the steps some women take to deal with a sense of a stigmatized identity. Whether they reconceptualized their old notions of what it means to be a woman or put a new focus on making themselves attractive, they made conscious efforts to reclaim their female identity and femininity. This book provides a wealth of insight into the choices women make regarding gynecological surgery and maintaining their sense of themselves as women.

Table of Contents

1. "To Have and Have Not": Perspectives on Hysterectomy and Oophorectomy
2. "Hormonal Hierarchy": Stratified Stigma Following Hysterectomy
3. An "Ovary Prosthesis"? The Meanings of Estrogen Replacement Therapy
4. "Badge of Femininity"? Menstruation
5. "Women's Work"? Motherhood and Gender Identity
6. "Feel Like a Woman"? Sexuality and Gender Identity
7. Biographical Work and Impression Management: Maintaining and Reclaiming Gender Identity
8. "Am I Still a Woman?"
Postscript: The Issue of Medical Necessity
Appendix Research Methodology

About the Author(s)

Jean Elson teaches sociology at the University of New Hampshire.