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Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog) Hardcover – March 15, 2012


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Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog) + Keep Your Wives Away from Them: Orthodox Women, Unorthodox Desires + Balancing on the Mechitza: Transgender in Jewish Community
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Product Details

  • Series: Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog
  • Hardcover: 270 pages
  • Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (March 15, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0299287300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0299287306
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,403,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“Readers will be rewarded not only with an expanded understanding of a complicated choice but also a compelling and moving story of a person transitioning, not only from male to female but from a numb, suicidal 'nonexistence' to opening the 'door of life.' ” ----Publishers Weekly

“Ladin’s story is a deep, beautifully written exploration of her journey from being a man to becoming a woman.” ----—Lucy Bledsoe, author of The Big Bang Symphony

“Joy Ladin’s book succeeds so well because it is anything but a trans tract; it is a fierce story of regular old human life: hideous choices, endless repercussions, occasional glory, frequent humiliation, abiding difficulty. It could have happened to us. She makes us believe it.” --—Kay Ryan, former poet laureate of the United States, and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry

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About the Author

Joy Ladin, David and Ruth Gottesman Professor of English at Stern College for Women of Yeshiva University, is the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. She is the author of five books of poetry, including, most recently, Psalms and Coming to Life.

Customer Reviews

I can't help but wish Ms. Ladin a happy and fulfilling future.
Editing_Gal
As a published poet, her writing is engaging, poignant, and heartbreaking, yet at the same time uplifting.
nightreader
This is a hard review to write as I am so glad I read the book and understand her journey.
groupworker

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Bob Lind on March 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
After teaching literature for many years at Yeshiva University, Jay Ladin became an instant gender activist, when she returned to the Orthodox Jewish campus as its first transgender employee, now Joy Ladin. Behind the headlines and talk show commentaries, Joy takes her readers into a touching, emotional memoir of her journey to and beyond that point, dealing with not just with her personal and family transformation, but reconciling this to her religion as well. She mourns the "death" of the man she once was, father to three children and husband to a woman who can't help but be bitter about Joy's "choices" in life.

The book takes the reader through her emotional, physical and social aspects of becoming a woman, the occasional roller-coaster effect of taking hormones, trying to maintain a realistic link (often dressed as the man she no longer considers herself to be) with her children, and battling the loneliness resulting from trying to carve out a new life with people who can somewhat understand and accept her. It's a powerful, well-written story, and recommended reading. Five stars out of five.

- Bob Lind, Echo Magazine
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By David M Robinson on March 30, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Read this memoir -- for Ladin's bravery, her hard-won insight into some of the most difficult, painful, and meaningful of life's questions and challenges, and for the beauty of her writing itself.

And, please, give it to anyone you think needs to learn to be even a bit more accepting of transgender people and to understand a bit more of what it is like for a transgender person to live in a still largely transphobic world.
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8 of 11 people found the following review helpful By glinda on January 28, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is a beautifully written and deeply moving account of one person's transition from male to female. I have never read an account that illuminates the inner world of gender dysphoria so clearly. i am a psychologist whose caseload includes families with these issues, and I will use this book to help my community understand better not only the transpeople we encounter, but to help us better understand the gender continuum and our own humanity. Thank you, Joy.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful By nightreader on October 16, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Starting at age six, "Jay" knew that "he" was in the wrong body and should have been a girl. In his forties, married with three kids and teaching at Yeshiva University, he decides to come out as a transsexual and make the transition to being a woman. Now known as "Joy," she takes the reader through her innermost thoughts and difficult experiences, with all the doubts and pains in such a radical change of life. As a published poet, her writing is engaging, poignant, and heartbreaking, yet at the same time uplifting. She tries to reconcile traditional Jewish teachings and her desire to be a good Jew. Her talks with her God speak to all of us, religious or not.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on February 9, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Sex Changes: A memoir of marriage, Gender, and moving on" is a better read and is really a good companion to this book. Not that Joy's book is bad it's just very personal and not really that interesting. The other book is written by her 'ex' and is a much more interesting read altogether. Read them both. Then you'll get the full picture.
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13 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Samuel Rafael on March 19, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have not read such a powerful and well-written memoir in many years. Providing the best first-hand description of the agony of gender dysphoria I've read since Jennifer Boylan's "She's Not There," I'm confident that this work will stand as the definitive non-text book offering on this subject. The author vividly describes what it is like for people like herself who venture into a "no-man's land" of femininity that was forbidden to her. Her insights about family, work and everyday life are profound and spot-on. She offers an honest, sometimes agonizing and always poignant look at her own gender transition and the impact it has had on herself, her loved ones and others in her life. In so doing she has some amazingly deep things to express that resonate with the struggle of all transgender individuals, transitioned or not.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Naomi Karten on August 20, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This was a tremendously painful book to read. I can't begin to fathom the agony and the anguish that accompanies living your life in the wrong body. I can't imagine what it's like to reach a point where the pain of remaining in the same body is far worse than the risk of causing pain to, and even losing, the family one loves. I empathize with Joy Ladin for what she went through - though empathy is too weak a word in this context. Yet, it's impossible not to also feel bad for the wife and children. I kept hoping they'd eventually come to understand that this transition wasn't a casual decision or a selfish choice, that life itself was at stake. Yet, the wife, understandably wanting things to remain as they'd been, kept asking, "What's so bad about being a man?"

Despite the years of trauma, Joy Ladin was able to write about her experience so honestly and elegantly that I felt grateful to be able to read about it, even as I felt sorrow that someone would have to go through such a terrible ordeal: "Being a man, for me, was a performance, and most people were not only willing but eager to take that performance for me." Just imagine any circumstance at all in which you had to go through life performing as someone you're not. And then to have to deal with family, friends and professional colleagues who react to the transition in ways that are judgmental and in some cases obstructive. Plus, the transition itself is no easy matter and learning to live life as the gender she yearned for has had its challenges.

Still...."Now, every day, my body and I move closer toward belonging to each other." I can only hope that for all the pain and heartbreak Joy Ladin suffered for so much of a lifetime, the rest of that life can now be a time of happiness, contentment and satisfaction at being, at last, who she really is.
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More About the Author

Joy (formerly Jay) Ladin is the author of a memoir, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders (U. of Wisconsin Press), and six books of poetry, The Definition of Joy, Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life, Transmigration (a 2009 Lambda Literary Award finalist), The Book of Anna, and Alternatives to History, all from Sheep Meadow Press, and Psalms, a collection of original psalms from Wipf & Stock. Her poems and essays have been widely published. She holds the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College of Yeshiva University, where, in 2007, she became the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. She has given many talks on writing, literature, Judaism, and gender identity. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Keshet.


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