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Crossing: A Memoir 1st Edition

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ISBN-13: 978-0226556697
ISBN-10: 0226556697
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Editorial Reviews Review

This fascinating memoir chronicles Deirdre McCloskey's transformation from Donald McCloskey, an economist at the University of Iowa and married father of two, into the woman he finally accepted he had always wanted to be. McCloskey had been dressing in women's clothes since he was 11, but after his daughter went to college in 1994, the 52-year-old man grew increasingly aware that he was more than "just a heterosexual crossdresser." As he moved toward the decision to become a transsexual, his wife reacted angrily, and his sister tried twice to have him declared insane. The passages detailing McCloskey's ordeal within the psychiatric and legal establishment are as gripping as a topnotch thriller. But the memoir's deeper interest lies in the author's reflections on the nature of gender and identity. Donald was a macho academic who dominated every discussion, viewing conversation as an exercise in one-upmanship. As he surgically altered his appearance and began to take estrogen on the road to "The Operation," he found himself relating to people in a more conventionally female way: listening to others, considering feelings. "The hormones are working, he thought at first. Or was it merely that the real person could now stand up?... Biology or core identity?" There are no final answers to such questions, but McCloskey poses them with sensitivity and insight. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

Transsexuality has fascinated mainstream readers since 1953, when former U.S. serviceman George Jorgensen went to Sweden and, to banner headlines, returned as Christine. Since then, there has been a string of notable memoirs of gender crossing, including Geoff Brown's sincere I Want What I Want (1966), Jan Morris's meditative Conundrum (1974) and Holly Woodlawn's campy A Low Life in High Heels (1994). McCloskey's own odyssey from Donald to Deirdre is closest to noted journalist Morris's, in that it charts the life change of a highly regarded public figureAMcCloskey is a world-famous conservative economistAwho finds fulfillment as a woman after four decades of living as a man. McCloskey forthrightly describes her upper-middle-class youth in Boston, her early and lifelong interest in cross-dressing, her education and eventual success as an academic and her marriage and children. In her late 40s, McCloskey decided that she was not simply a heterosexual cross-dresser but a transsexual and decided to undergo a series of operations to become an anatomical woman. Her memoir effectively details the pain involved: a bitter divorce, insurance companies' refusal to cover surgeries and her sister's repeated attempts to block the process legally. McCloskey's proclivity to jump around in time, her tendency to disrupt the flow of her story with social and political digressions and the constant placing of additional thoughts and ideas in bold text throughout the narrative distract from her storyAbut her courage nevertheless shines through. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Memoir
  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (September 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226556697
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226556697
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #803,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

71 of 83 people found the following review helpful By Marcy L. Thompson VINE VOICE on August 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a book about someone who has gone through an amazing experience. The problem is that the author doesn't seem to grasp most of what she has done. For example, she is hurt beyond belief that the woman she was married to when she was a man can't accept that she is now a woman. But prior to this revelation, he had been lying to his wife, and he had a secret life. He seems to have no sense of what a major revelation this was, no ability to understand what it might be like to discover that your husband has been deceiving you and now intends to change his (and your) life profoundly and That This Is Not Open For Discussion. (Never mind that if you resist the changes he is proposing for your life, you will instantly become the enemy.)
Also, she has a strange view of what it means to be a woman. Near as I can tell, any woman whose experience of being female is different than hers is a "radical feminist" and the enemy.
She not only accepts second-class treatment, she seems to crave it. She brags about doing the cooking and cleaning with the other women while the men in the group are chatting in the living room. She seems to have chosen friends who will reinforce her ideas about what it means to be a woman. In the end, she is living out a man's fantasy of what it is like to be female. More power to her, but I think she would find more acceptance (which she clearly longs for) if she would start with a little empathy. It's all about her, all about what she wants, and not at all about what it might mean for those who started out loving him.
Her sister tried several times to get her committed to mental institutions, in order to prevent her from having the surgery. This was vile and evil, and intrusive.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Richard Bear on September 7, 2001
Format: Paperback
"Crossing" is an honest account of a high-profile intellectual's sometimes terrifying journey to herself through a maze of psychological, social and physical barriers. A noted economist and economics historian, Deirdre McCloskey is currently UIC Distinguished Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago. and a visiting professor at Erasmusuniversiteit Rotterdam. She began this career as Donald McCloskey, and her gender change was heralded by accounts in The Chronicle of Higher Ed and elsewhere.
Arranged in three sections named for a progression of personae -- "Donald," "Dee," and "Deirdre," the book follows decades of furtive cross-dressing to a moment of epiphany in 1994 at the age of 52, followed by learning to "pass"as a woman, by loss of family and some friends, by painful surgery, and on to discovering new friend, and rediscovering the world (and the academic discipline of economics) through the eyes of a woman. Joys -- a child born, named for her -- sorrows -- her own children, long since grown, refusing to acknowledge her. Well paced yet thoughtful, "Crossing" reads like a novel despite its long passages of musing on the economic, social and political aspects of her situation and of that of other crossers, of women, and of men in a "free" society that is severely opressive to those whose free choice is to redefine their gender expression. Want to know more about these issues? Or just want to know a brave new woman better? Buy the book.
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Dr. George Wilkerson on November 24, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Kudos for the first completely honest and exceptionally well-written presentation of the difficult road a transgendered person must travel to define his/her place in the world. I was especially pleased to see how well-balanced this book is and the obvious pains the author took to show the many sides of this issue.
Especially impressive are those instances where Ms. McCloskey is able to describe the mistreatment, lack of understanding, and downright cruelty of others without lapsing into vengeful remarks or angry tirades. Instead of using it to deride the mistreatment she received at the hands of the ignorant, Deidre's multi-dimensional story leaves the reader with an empathy for the plight of the so-called 'transsexual' and the need for us to rethink our view of the subject. Through her story we begin to understand in a very personal way the limiting nature of the male and female definitions of gender.
This is not a historical or medical book. As the subtitle says, it's a memoir. I've struggled through books on this subject by other transgendered writers like Rikki Wilchins and Kate Bornstein, but this is the first I've found that is written in a way that makes the subject accessible to those who haven't had to deal with this situation.
Ms. McCloskey has adopted a use of the third person which is wholly appropriate to her subject. Given the pronoun limitations for referencing gender, she has done a remarkable job of presenting the different aspects of herself while retaining the sense of a completely unified individual.
As an educator and writer, I believe that "Crossing" should be recommended reading for people of all ages.
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