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True Selves: Understanding Transsexualism--For Families, Friends, Coworkers, and Helping Professionals Paperback – March 24, 2003
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Brown and Rounsley's solidly based introduction to many aspects of living as a transsexual provides general information about the dilemma of feeling trapped in the wrong physical gender, about such a person's development, and about locating a gender therapist. Brown and Rounsley also detail the process of transition between genders, starting with legal and identity changes and proceeding to changing outward modes of self-presentation (they include sample "coming-out" letters to employers, coworkers, friends, and family members) and dealing with bathroom issues, hormone treatments, surgical options, and guidelines for finding social support. First-person accounts from transsexuals augment general readability and put human faces on the issues discussed. Whitney Scott --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"I would strongly recommend this book as a primer for anyone interested in this topic." (Archives of Sexual Behavior, 35:2)
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Top Customer Reviews
The quality of the manuscript is excellent. I was impressed with the organization and structure and how the content flowed. It reads well and is a book to which I am proud to point others, which I have often done!
Regarding the authors' emphasis on the Standards of Care, it is important for our friends and loved ones to know that we are following a proven protocol and not "out there" blazing our own trails. As I read the autobiographies by Donna Rose, Jennifer Boylan, Renee Richards, Deirdre McCloskey, Jan Morris and others, they so encouraged me that this is a mountain I can climb, a summit I can reach. Thankfully, there are exceptions to the norm where grace is extended but for the most part, whether MTF or FTM, there are milestones common to us in the transgender community as we cross over. "True Selves," with sensitivity, overlays those required steps on a timeline aided with professional medical support, known as the Standards of Care.
Our path is one of great courage as we forget what lies behind to lay hold of who we are. We must be willing to sacrifice everything in order to realize our dream and we need all the support we can get. This book provides a tremendous amount of support.
First, I had heard that this book was an excellent introduction for both lay persons and people in the helping professions. I had already done extensive research into transgenderism and transsexuality and I am in advanced stages of my own transition; living as a woman in reasonable comfort, I really did not expect to learn much new, but was interested in comparing my experience with others. I was also looking for a book that I could loan to others who might need to learn about this topic quickly and easily.
I have to say that I was unexpectedly moved by this book, finding myself in copious tears at many points as I felt *very validated*. For me, that was worth the price of the book and time to read it, and speaks to its power.
The writing style of the book really took me by surprise: it seemed very much less sterile than other treatments on the subject by other people in the helping professions. I really feel like Ms. Brown knows us (yet, there are a number of ways in which my transsexual/transitional experience is significantly different from many other TS people I know.)
One thing I found a bit uncomfortable was doctor Brown's nearly constant referral to us as "patients," and I *do* get that: she's a psychotherapist, and she very much approaches transsexuality as a medical issue. But, I'm not sure that I feel really comfortable as a patient...maybe a client would be better in the context?
Another thing, more serious, is doctor Brown's view of who decides we are transsexual. From what she writes, she seems to think that it is professionals like herself that decide who is and who is not a transsexual. My understanding of the consensus of people helping us is that transsexualism is largely a self-diagnosed condition. Rather than analyzing us to determine if we fit into the DSM criteria for (then, Gender Identity Disorder / now, Gender Dysphoria) their job is to help us critically examine ourselves to help us determine where we are with our gender issues, whilst handling possible co-morbid issues (like clinical depression or potential personality disorders) in a more conventional way...
...In short, I needed my therapist to help me acquire tools to better understand myself; I needed her honest mirroring; I needed her "sanity-checks;" at times, I also needed her disinterested authority to check me. BUT I *did not* need her to tell me whether I was transsexual: I determined that for myself, and I am freed by it. Doctor Brown's implication that the "professional knows best" left a bit of a paternalistic taint on what is otherwise very helpful information...
My final issue with the book is that it needs to be revised to account for advances in our understanding of the transsexual phenomenon. For example, this edition does not reflect the historic fact that DSM-V has de-pathologized transgender, transsexual and gender variant people. We are not sick; we are different. Some of us have difficulty dealing with our condition, especially transsexuals, and various forms of medical and social assistance can help us deal with our condition better. Statistics citing transsexual prevalence and and attempted suicide rates are seriously understated. Doctor Lynn Conway has shown that transsexual prevalence is nearly two orders of magnitude greater than the (very old) statistics quoted in this edition: transsexualism is more common, than say, muscular dystrophy. Better statistics for the attempted suicide rate of transgender/transsexual people now exist, putting the rate as high as 41%. Before I pass this book on to others, I will make margin-notes citing the better statistics, changes in terminology and a few other things.
All in all, the book is compassionate, informative, inspiring, and evocative. It is worth adding to your library and also to loan to others to help them understand this difficult condition. It does approach all this from doctor/patient perspective, which some of us in the transgender community may find chaffing. A new edition taking into account recent advances would likely earn five-stars from me.
(For people who may be interested, I have links to more recent statistics and other information in my blog: GracefullyTrans.wordpress.com .)
The reality is that nobody really knows why some people are transsexual. Many theories and opinions exist, but thus far unproven when scrutinized closely enough, and quite frankly, why does it matter? One thing's for sure, diversity in nature is normal, only the social construct of western European influenced human societies renders things that don't exactly fit the pre-decided cookie cutter mold, to be abnormal, and a threat to the authorized version of normal. - It really is total BS.