Saturday, July 6, 2013

"Right Wine; Wrong Bottle"

That's a quote from Jennifer Finney Boylan, famously the first transgender person to write a best-selling memoir on that life.  (What?  The world forgot Christine Jorgenson?  1926 - 1989)

"Stuck In The Middle With You, A Memoir of Parenting in Three Genders" by Jennifer Finney Boylan   Crown Publishers   280 pages   $24

She seems to be making something of a cottage industry of her sex change from male (two sons) to female.  This is her second book on the subject and she also writes columns and gives lectures.  

Briefly:  As a male, she met a woman named Deirdre Finney.  They fell in love, married, had two sons and he was a father for six years and then a mother for the next 10.  While the boys were still young, approximately six and four, Boylan finally told his wife that he wanted to transition from male to female.  For the 10 years of their married life, he'd never mentioned it.  Spanner in the works!

Enter:  stress, emotions, her sister dying, his mother dying and the traumas of major surgery.  Through it all, Boylan says that their sons never got upset as Daddy Becomes Mommy and bases that statement on the fact that they were to young to understand the nuances and that as they were continually loved, the change didn't threaten their well being.  Boylan is 55, Dierdre is a bit younger and the boys are in college.  According to Boylan, all are thriving. 

His book raised more questions for me than it gave me answers.  I can grasp the "right wine; wrong bottle" description of a female thinking in a man's body or vice versa, but why couldn't the individual just roll with it?  New York-based writer Fran Leibowitz clearly thinks she's living in Oscar Wilde's body.  She writes as she thinks he did and she dresses in what might very well be his old clothes.  Everyone in New York society (and all of the Post's Page Six readers) know she's a woman, acting and dressing like a man.

I'd like to think that personality and intelligence are much more important than whatever mantle of sex we are wearing.

Boyland writes well and it amused me that he takes umbrage at the transgender who will say, "Oh, I always knew I was a woman - I liked to play with dolls and bake cookies."  Boylan says he tells them to go ahead and bake cookies because you don't need a vagina for that!  Which rather begs the question of why he went out and got one, you ask me.  I am not imaginative enough (sadly) to imagine "me" being a man in a three piece suit, lace-up shoes and a Homberg. 

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