What indeed of the "trans take"
some recommended resources on understanding Dr. James Barry as a trans man
To start us off I decided to put together a short list of good posts and a podcast that discusses Dr. James Barry as a trans man. Even now people actually taking a trans reading of Barry seriously are few and far between but this is a good place to start.
Dr. James Barry and the specter of trans and queer history by David Obermayer (EE Ottoman)This is the article I wrote on interpreting Barry as a trans in 2015. It looks at Barry's life and goes into why I think Barry had largely not been talked about as trans up until now.
“The Trans Take”: Towards a Transgender Public History by Jack Doyle This article is, in part, about E.J. Levy who, while announcing on social media that she was writing a book about Barry, misgendered him multiple times, insisted he was a woman and refused to interact seriously with any of the trans scholars who tried to engage with her. Jack Doyle however also lays out why Barry is important to trans history and how his life shines a spotlight on the limitations of our current historical methodologies.
Down With These So-Called “Gender Categories”! by Grace Lavery Lavery looks at the way that Levy, along with other writers, has talked about Barry and his gender and what that tells us about the ways we think about trans people in the past. Overall I think she makes a good argument that the language of 'resisting gender categories', which are often used by cis scholars when talking about Barry (and other historical figures like him) actually plays strongly into modern gender categories instead of resisting anything at all.
Dr James Barry and the Erasure of LGBTQ+ History by Sara Westrop This is a solid basic look at Barry from a trans perspective but it's really on this list because Jeremy Dronfield, who co-wrote an incredibly transphobic biography of Barry and often deadnames him, actually tweeted about how much he hated this article in particular.
Lady Science Podcast Episode 9: Trans and Queer Histories of Science by Anna Reser, Leila McNeill, and Rebecca Ortenberg This is a really good podcast episode on Dr. James Barry. Reser, McNeill and Ortenberg are very careful to be respectful of him as a queer trans man. They also use his story as a jumping off point to have a very thoughtful conversation about doing queer and trans history, the history of medicine and how to respect historical figures privacy and agency as we do it.
Monstrous regiment: how should we talk about those who dressed as men and went to war? By Catherine Baker While not only about Dr. James Barry Baker does mention him specifically as someone who should not, necessarily, be read as a cis woman. Mostly though this article is worth reading because Baker makes a strong argument for why trans history is NOT a threat to women's history and why these two branches of history should be working together to create more complex and nuanced historical methodologies.