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
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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.
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