In this time when states are banning medical trans care and denying the existence of trans people, it seemed important to explore memoirs written by trans people. I started with this one.
She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders by Jennifer Finney Boylan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This well told life story is a timely read. It enables me as a cis gendered reader to come as close to understanding a trans experience as seems possible. Besides narrating James’ struggle to understand his perception of himself as a girl from an early age, it tells of his struggle to hide those thoughts and secret actions of dressing in women’s clothing. It tells of his struggle to suppress them in marriage. And it tells of the long process of determining, with professional consultation, whether to enter into transition and then once having decided, the slow steps taken toward full transition.
James/Jennifer was fortunate to have an understanding family. Occasional references to the experiences of other trans people show that is not the case for everyone. During the in between time James/Jennifer’s sons took it all in matter of factly saying on one occasion that their Daddy is a girlboy. Another time they decide no longer to call him/her “Daddy” but to shift to “Maddy.”
Much of the book was spent on others’ dealing with the secret feminine identity once it was revealed to them. Especially revealing were interactions with his/her buddy Russo and wife “Grace.” They too had to transition their relationships as Jennifer emerged. The importance of others was emphasized by ending the book with chapters by Russo and Deidre-“Grace.” It seems timely to note that many struggles occurred because Jennifer was allowed “out” only when Jennifer/James was in his/her 40s; given the advances in trans care and earlier diagnosis and treatment, many of the issues Jennifer/James faced would not have happened, like having to tell a wife.
Jennifer is a good writer, so I’m eager to read two other memoirs and some fiction
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