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The Importance of Being Agnes

Symbolic Interaction

Published online on


Harold Garfinkel's 1950s case study of “Agnes” is broadly understood as the locus classicus of sociological research about transgender people. Drawing on an analysis of unpublished archival materials from Garfinkel and Robert J. Stoller, the lead psychiatrist on Agnes's case, I locate Agnes' experiences at UCLA within a larger history of theorizing about gender and sexuality within the social sciences, and within the emerging field of transgender studies.