Customer Review

69 of 74 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good book on a complex subject, September 8, 2003
This review is from: She's Not There: A Life in Two Genders (Hardcover)
I went into reading this book with more then a bit of skepticism, having seen other examples of transgender people telling their story fall short of what I have known and experienced (yep, I am a transgender M to F myself). Anyway I was pleasantly surprised by this book. Ms. Boylan writes with a grace and a style that made the book easily readable and one for me that I wanted to read, rather then had to read.
Some people might criticize the relatively light tone she takes with some of the darker issues she had to face (like a disapproving sister) but after reading so many doom and gloom tales that over emphasize that side, this was a breath of fresh air.
As someone like Ms. Boylan who is going through transition as a family (with some differences in terms of family dynamics) I can say that the emotions she writes about, her and of those around her, if lightened up, are real. Her spouse deals with this differently then many spouses would, for sure, but the pain and the hurt expressed is true in my experience. Likewise, the uncertainty of people around a transitioning person is portrayed very well here, especially in the relationship with her friend Richard Russo. I am glad that Jenny made the point that not only is the person transitioning, so are the people around them.
I also would like to comment on some of the other reviews, who imply that Jenny "glossed over" the pain of her family, or implied she was some sort of typical middle age man just "doing his own thing". I suspect if she glossed over the raw emotions it was to protect her family and their privacy, not about trivializing them. As far as this being some sort of middle age crisis and a 'choice', forget it. As someone who is there, I can tell you it is no choice when someone transititions at this age (or later), by then it is do this or perish as a person.
I recommend this book to all readers, no matter of who they are. It is well written, and I think it serves as a gentle and informative (though not complete) portrayal of a complex subject and of someone finally becoming themselves.
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Showing 1-5 of 5 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 4, 2011 8:30:37 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 4, 2011 8:56:50 PM PDT
What strikes me, in the critiques implying that Jenny 'glossed over' the pain of her family, is how easily our culture tends to (inadvertently, yet still hypocritically) emphasize the pain of others over the pain of those who must become themselves not only without society's support, but also without their own family's support. It must be a Herculean effort to forego such support, which is what most often happens, I guess. As a young woman realizing her sexual desire for another woman back in the 70s, I asked my parents if they could feel any pride at all towards my resolution to seek my true feelings despite all obstacles. The question was rhetorical, unfortunately, because they couldn't fathom in what sense there could possibly be anything worthy of pride in my having become a lesbian. Clearly, I would have to forego their support, which pained me forever, even within my acceptance that their support was beyond their abilities, at least for a long while. What can I possibly say about so many transgendered people suffering such loneliness in a culture which is far more prejudiced against them than against lesbians? Time has given me the conviction that not letting the pain and sufferings of those you love deter you is the healthiest and most loving attitude towards their love -- even though the higher and deeper manifestation of that love may be inaccessible in the immediate present. Undoubtedly, we have a long way to go until we can learn the higher and deeper teachings brought to us by unexpected reality. This is why I think that the 'relatively light tone' mentioned by Richins is effective: it makes clear what NEEDS TO BE EMPHASIZED in order to counterbalance our culture's excessive emphasis on the pain of loved and loving ones to the detriment of the very existence of one's self.

Posted on Apr 4, 2011 8:58:08 PM PDT
What strikes me, in the critiques implying that Jenny 'glossed over' the pain of her family, is how easily our culture tends to (inadvertently, yet still hypocritically) emphasize the pain of others over the pain of those who must become themselves not only without society's support, but also without their own family's support. It must be a Herculean effort to forego such support, which is what most often happens, I guess. As a young woman realizing her sexual desire for another woman back in the 70s, I asked my parents if they could feel any pride at all towards my resolution to seek my true feelings despite all obstacles. The question was rhetorical, unfortunately, because they couldn't fathom in what sense there could possibly be anything worthy of pride in my having become a lesbian. Clearly, I would have to forego their support, which pained me forever, even within my acceptance that their support was beyond their abilities, at least for a long while. What can I possibly say about so many transgendered people suffering such loneliness in a culture which is far more prejudiced against them than against lesbians? Time has given me the conviction that not letting the pain and sufferings of those you love deter you is the healthiest and most loving attitude towards their love -- even though the higher and deeper manifestation of that love may be inaccessible in the immediate present. Undoubtedly, we have a long way to go until we can learn the higher and deeper teachings brought to us by unexpected reality. This is why I think that the 'relatively light tone' mentioned by Richins is effective: it makes clear what NEEDS TO BE EMPHASIZED in order to counterbalance our culture's excessive emphasis on the pain of loved and loving ones to the detriment of the very existence of one's self.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 3, 2011 4:25:06 PM PDT
[Customers don't think this post adds to the discussion. Show post anyway. Show all unhelpful posts.]

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 27, 2013 9:06:10 PM PDT
Apuleius says:
Sticks and stones may...

I suggest you read "Riddle of Gender." And your tone is not appreciated.

In reply to an earlier post on Apr 28, 2013 7:40:36 AM PDT
...just a little unvarnished honesty...Iam quite tired of the PC'ers dictating to others how they must feel and express themselves...as if their pain is less important...
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