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via WesOnline Monthly

...my alumniae magazine from Wesleyan University, comes a report about Jennifer Finley Boylan's memoir She's Not There. Jennifer changed genders five years ago and the book is about some aspects of the transition.

I went to Amazon to put the book on my wish list and I noticed the heavy criticism in the first 10 or so reviews of the book. Most people said the book focused too much on the light and humorous, and downplayed the negative. One reviewer wrote, "when you say you're writing a memoir--and then accept a big advance for it--you'd better be prepared to spill a few pints of blood."

As if, if you are going to trouble society by changing genders, you'd better suffer for it? And if you are going to write a book about it, it had better be full of that suffering? And this is true even though you are known as a comic writer?

It reminds me of the issue of the treatment of alternative people on TV - oh, it's OK to have characters with alternative sexualities or gender identities, but they always have to suffer and die.

(Note: The subsequent 14 or so reviews were almost entirely positive.)

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
janetmiles
Oct. 14th, 2003 07:40 am (UTC)
Arguing devil's advocate for a moment: I have heard that there is considerable social pressure for TG people to minimize the difficulties they undergo in changing gender and/or physical sex. That line of thought continues that it's not fair to prospective TG people, in that they will have unrealistic expectations of the ease of transition and/or of the ease of adaptation.

I have insufficient evidence or experience to form an opinion as to the relative merits of either side of the debate, but wanted to present what seemed like a potentially valid datapoint.
femmediva
Oct. 14th, 2003 07:47 am (UTC)
I read it a few weeks ago, and I liked it. It did have a humorous tone to it, but I thought it was well done.
firecat
Oct. 14th, 2003 08:20 am (UTC)
Thanks for the review!
kightp
Oct. 14th, 2003 08:39 am (UTC)
It reminds me of the issue of the treatment of alternative people on TV - oh, it's OK to have characters with alternative sexualities or gender identities, but they always have to suffer and die.

Interesting. I've observed a ... counter-trend ... in small-town community theater:

If we do plays with gay characters, we get complaints - except when those characters (a) sing or (b) are funny.

(We got hate mail for a single male-male kiss in Death Trap, but not a peep of protest over an entire stage full of hugging, kissing drag queens in La Cage Aux Folles, for instance.)



dancing_star
Oct. 14th, 2003 01:05 pm (UTC)
I don't understand why people have to make gender/sexual differences either in to something majorly painful or a joke. Why can't people things to be as they are naturally?
pir_anha
Oct. 14th, 2003 05:19 pm (UTC)
gender issues == suffering?
one of the reasons why i no longer read the TG-related newsgroups is that there was a surfeit of suffering, and nobody seemed to ever laugh. i understand. i really do. there are days where i feel the weight so heavily on my shoulders that i can hardly move. lately i've been taking journals off my reading list because they're unrelentingly negative, and i can no longer handle the downward trend that gives to my day. i guess it helps some people, though i admit, i can't see it because things don't seem to be changing for them. but it definitely hinders me.

without a sense of humour i would find life utterly unbearable. not the sort of "don't worry, be happy" idiocies, not slapstick, not trivializing -- but sensible, insightful humour. thanks for talking about this book, it'll be good to read it.
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )

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