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Woman I Was Not Born To Be: A Transsexual Journey Paperback – February 15, 2001


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Temple University Press (February 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1566398401
  • ISBN-13: 978-1566398404
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,239,156 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These days, it is understood that sometimes boys will be girls; in Alfred Brevard Crenshaw's case, he wanted to be a womanAand what a woman! Born in 1937 to a genteel Tennessee family, Crenshaw knew that he was different from an early age. In his early 20s, he fled to San Francisco, where he became a female impersonator and a hit, under the name Lee Shaw, at Finocchio's, the world-famous nightclub featuring top-line drag entertainment. But by the early 1960s, simply dressing up wasn't enough; Shaw wanted to undergo surgery to become a woman. His desire was so great that, even before he underwent the brand-new technique of transsexual surgery, he castrated himself (with the help of a friend) in his own kitchen to shut down his body's production of testosterone. After seeking safer, medical solutions to his gender dysphoria (namely, 11 hours of surgery), Lee emerged as Aleshia BrevardAa well-built knockout. Pursuing a career in entertainment, Aleshia became a burlesque queen, a Playboy bunny and a B-movie star, playing the lead against Don Knotts in The Love God. Brevard's story adds an entertaining curve to the growing body of literatureAacademic, scientific, theoretical and literaryAon transgender experience, without the self-pity or sentimentality found in many such memoirs. 17 photos. (Mar. 26) Forecast: Written in a gossipy style reminiscent of 1950s movie-star autobiographies (which, at heart, it is), this book could break out beyond the publisher's more usual academic readership to lovers of celebrity tell-alls and B-movies.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Best known for her roles in B movies (one of her more memorable was as a Pussycat in Don Knotts's The Love God) and her work as a drag-show entertainer, Brevard (n? Alfred Crenshaw) never felt at home in her body. In her autobiography, she relates the story of her remarkable life in sometimes funny, sometimes painful detail, from her gender-reassignment surgery and its aftermath to her stereotypically feminine employment (she was a Playboy Bunny for a time) and her three unhappy marriages. Her mother, Mozelle, and her best friend, Stormy (who also struggles with transgender issues), are staunch supporters thoughout her quest to become the "woman she was not born to be." Brevard's determination to make the life she craves is powerful, regardless of her gender, but the writing is uneven; additionally, the chatty, friendly tone she uses may come across as exaggeratedly intimate to readers. A better-written autobiography on the same theme is Kate Bornstein's Gender Outlaw (LJ 5/15/94). Kimberly L. Clarke, Univ. of Minnesota Lib., Minneapolis
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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She lived a life that many of us only dream of!
Allison Lenore Annalora
The book can occasionally be hard to follow because it moves quickly through many events, but whatever effort is expended, it is well worth the read!
Ken Gies
So yes, I have always admired Aleshia, and I really admire this book.
Murppy Dick

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Murppy Dick on September 25, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have just read this marvelous book and I can't stop thinking about the people and places I saw, through the eyes of the author, that I had never seen in just that way before.
It so happens that I know the author (but I never knew ANY of THIS!). When I met her I immediately admired her -- but I never knew why. I mean, other than the obvious, which she did not stress in her book but which I can personally attest to -- how SMART she is -- which is quite obvious in the book.
Aleshia tells us how, at her dear mother Mozelle's urging, she went to college (which is where we met!). She dashes off her college degree while battling husband and health problems, and it's the latter two that she finds taxing. She breezes through her practice teaching, making it all look easy (and it WAS NOT EASY). Apparently she often made things look easy that cost her a lot.
Later she gets mad because some snotty actor "one-ups" her with his Master's degree. Just to "show him," she goes and gets herself a Master's too! So there! You see, my dear Aleshia, not everybody is capable of doing that, only people who are smart, literate and know how to learn. That's a quality so prevalent in the book. Young people should read this to see how a smart person survives in a hostile world, indeed a lesson for us all.
People on campus who knew I knew Aleshia would sometimes crassly ask me if I had heard that "she" was on sports teams as a boy back in high school. My answer was heartfelt. "I don't know, but I do know that she's more of a woman than I'll ever be." It was true. She admits in her book, she was a slave to the times of Jackie, Marilyn and a woman cleaving to a man not only for food and shelter but also her identity.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Ken Gies on August 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
Laughing through the tears and whistling past the graveyard and surviving to write it all down. This book is the humourous, down-to-earth account of a very brave boy who never was and woman who longed to be. Brevard takes the reader on a wild ride from the backwoods of her (his) Tennessee childhood in the 40's, to San Fran's Finocchios in the 50's, to the horror of self-castration,required for gender re-assignment surgery in the 60's.
The book evokes the humor and pathos of following this real life adventure. The injustice of having to hide is mixed with Brevard's insecurities and submission to the male dominated attitudes of that time, until finally resolving, within herself, the true value of her life and existence.
The book can occasionally be hard to follow because it moves quickly through many events, but whatever effort is expended, it is well worth the read! In this book, the reader becomes intimately acquainted with one of the most courageous yet charming, engaging and beautiful women of our time.
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11 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Lawyeraau HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 7, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This autobiographical work, written in a bold, brash, and breezy style, chronicles the journey of Buddy Crenshaw, a shy farm boy from rural Tennessee, who travels along the rocky road of transexualism. It is a journey which culminates in a career in the entertainment field as Aleshia Brevard. It is also an interesting, though bumpy ride, as "Buddy" comes to terms with the gender identity issues that so occupied her early life. Buddy finally made that leap of faith, and, in keeping with the maxim "to thine own self be true", metamorphosed into Aleshia Brevard.

Her life's journey is written about with a great deal of humor, as well as pathos. Ms. Brevard is certainly resilient, having encountered sexism on both sides of the coin, first as a "sissy" boy, later as a buxom, bombshell starlet. Hers is a fascinating life, replete with questions as to what it really means to be a woman in today's society. It also offers a unique glimpse into the early history of surgical intervention for transexualism, as well as a candid view of the transgender experience. A transexual's journey is not an easy one, by any means.

Through the author's experience, the reader can see that women may have come a long way, but still have a ways to go. It is interesting to see Ms. Brevard initially try to conform to stereotypic female norms, only to ultimately question a woman's assigned role in society, as she matures. In breaking away from societal expectations, she eventually becomes all the happier for it. Her journey in life is a quest for self-acceptance and an affirmation of the resiliency of the human spirit.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Audie R. Siegel on February 20, 2009
Format: Paperback
I baught this book for myself for Christmas 2008. I read it straight through. It floored me! The author is able to reach down inside of the reader and bring up all kinds of wonderful feel-goods about life. The fact that she's transsexual is secondary to the interesting life Aleshia has lived. An actress, a college proffesor, and a great friend to the ones who cross her path. After reading it, I located the Author and was able to see how genuine a person she is. She is brave, and very courageous. You will not be dissappointed with this purchase. I'll treasure mine forever. We can only hope their will be a sequell to keep us informed and entertained! What a gal, Alesia Brevard!
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