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Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On Hardcover – November 13, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"Christine Benvenuto's Sex Changes is a long overdue book: the story of her experience with her husband's gender transition is complex and questioning, and always honest. It suggests how deeply transformative recovering from the loss of a marriage can be." --Helen Boyd, author of She's Not the Man I Married

Christine Benvenuto pulls us into the eddies of heartbreak, confusion, anger, and epiphany that swirl in the wake of her shattered marriage. Benvenuto, like the best of memoirists, has that clear, true voice that transforms her story into my story -- the details are different, but not the emotions. And as she makes her way through uncharted waters, discovering unseen facets of herself, I, too, make discoveries about myself. This is the power of storytelling at its best." --Sally Ryder Brady, author of A Box of Darkness: The Story of a Marriage

"A refreshingly gutsy narrative that offers a compelling view of sexual maturity and a sexual coming-of-age at midlife." --Kirkus

About the Author

CHRISTINE BENVENUTO is the author of Shiksa, as well as fiction, essays, and reviews that have appeared in many publications, including The Village Voice, the San Francisco Chronicle, Tikkun and Moment. She lives in western Massachusetts.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (November 13, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312649509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312649500
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,049,970 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Christine Benvenuto grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. In the interests of earning a living she has polished paperweights, taught journalism and edited and ghost-written highly complex works on science and technology that she did not understand in the least. She is the author of SEX CHANGES: A MEMOIR OF MARRIAGE, GENDER, AND MOVING ON, and SHIKSA: THE GENTILE WOMAN IN THE JEWISH WORLD, and her short stories and articles have appeared in many publications. She and her three children live in New England. Read more at:

Read more about me and my books:

2012 Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize Winner Christine Benvenuto
Author Christine Benvenuto is the winner of the 2012 Brooklyn Non-Fiction Prize for her story "Death in Brooklyn."
Read the essay, under the title "Flight of the Hawk," on Brooklyn

Excerpts from Sex Changes have appeared in the UK Guardian, November 2, 2012, The Week: The Best of the British and Foreign Media, December 8, 2012, and The Huffington Post, December 26,2012

Customer Reviews

Read the book--worth every penny.
Woman Writer
The dissolution of their relationship is a cautionary tale of how NOT to handle this kind of marital crisis.
OTOH, Christine did not exactly allow anyone to support her.
Night Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Rachel Flint on December 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Christine Benvenuto does not hold back in this memoir. Her feelings of anger and betrayal are strongly expressed with uncluttered, precise prose. She also shares a sharp humor that saves some of the darker segments of her tale from sounding strident. Most divorces involve a grieving process. The death of a marriage, especially a marriage that once seemed fulfilling and solid, hurts everyone involved. How much more devastating it must be when the marriage falls apart as one partner changes from one state of being to another.

It is wretched to be left behind while one's former spouse enters a life-changing journey of self discovery. When that journey is lauded by a shared community, the resulting experiences of alienation and isolation must be devastating. This story may be about a sex change, but it is also about being let down by the people one expects to hold one up. It is about needing the support of a community and finding oneself left in a sort of free-fall. In the Valley of the Politically Correct, and in this modern world we live in, this is a narrative that deserves close attention.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Aoife VINE VOICE on December 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I picked up this book after reading an excerpt of it on The Guardian's site. I was drawn in immediately by Benvenuto's vivid but matter-of-fact writing and wanted to hear her whole story. In addition, I was appalled by the attempts of some in her ex-husband's faction, and in the online transgender community, to intimidate her into silence and have her work censored. They went so far as causing a violent scene at a book reading (the police were called) and getting her articles pulled from other websites. If you want to get a critical thinker to read a book as fast as can be there's one way to make it happen--try to get it banned! Tell us we dare not contemplate the dangerous ideas within its pages! I had to know what the book was all about, then.

The story Benvenuto shares is extraordinary in its way, but also sadly so very ordinary. All the stuff about gender is almost a red herring. The real story is that she was married to a man who was emotionally warped and increasingly psychologically abusive, who then abandoned his family for a "new beginning" when it suited him with nary a second thought, merrily trashing his wife and painting himself as a victim all the way. Whether the new start is a new girlfriend, a new drug, or a new gender matters not in the slightest. This story happens all too many times, all over the country, all the time. The way this person treated his children was the most appalling detail of them all. In particular, the way he forced his middle daughter, aged 7 at the time, to engage in "secret" dress-up games with him was so incredibly inappropriate, it struck me as bordering on a form of abuse. The dynamics as recounted in the book were certainly evocative of abuse.
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45 of 56 people found the following review helpful By Woman Writer on December 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book is explosive and honest. After a 20-year marriage the author's husband tells her he has to become a woman or he will die, and it is like cancer, and the only cure is to have a sex change. The symptoms: he will pass out if he can't wear a dress--just like other real women. His valiant, brave and noble fight to stay alive has him playing dress up in women clothes with the children when the writer is out. In his other moments of good health he becomes so abusive that one wonders how the wife survived--answer to mother three kids. No choice. The husband threatens suicide and without missing a beat, he says he will put her out on the street because, as he reminds her--I bought this house, it is mine and you can get out if you don't like it. He moves through the town they live in dressed in women's clothing that looks exactly like the authors clothes. With a new baby, a child with a heart condition and the husband's condition, all demanding her attention, the author is cut off from any support system, at the same time the husband collects supporters, admirers in the form of middle aged housewives who thrill, chirp, send flowers, and give him a new wardrobe-- they have a cause, so much for starving kids in Africa, that's so last year. With really insightful prose and a good deal of humor Benevenuto shows how abuse can be framed, tolerated and lauded if you call it something else and if it is directed at a women. An interesting story is still evolving around the book. Ever since publication the ex husband has launched a campaign against the writer and has made every effort, some verging on violence, to have the book banned. Let me repeat that: BAN THE BOOK. The ex husband is now Joy Ladin a tenured professor at Yeshiva University, transsexual activist, Judaic spiritual leader.Read more ›
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Ellen Donohue on December 24, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
You don't often get the perspective from the spouse of the late in life transgender person and you always imagine it must be very difficult for him or her.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Jean L. Vignes on December 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I was mesmerized by this memoir. I highly recommend it to any thoughtful person who is interested in how marriages change over time, especially when one partner changes in extreme and disturbing ways that make continuing the marriage impossible.

I can't even imaging putting up with what she tolerated for the last years of her marriage. Few women would or could.

But in the end, you see the resiliency that is so admirable in people who have been through horrible disappointments. They pick themselves up, they dust themselves off, they carry on. Bless them, they carry on.

P.S. The publishers and Amazon need to stop gouging Kindle readers. People shouldn't be punished for having vision problems, and the current list price for the Kindle edition is three dollars MORE than the trade paperback! WTW?!? No need to print, bind or ship them and it costs more? Really people?
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