February 10, 2016

Don’t worry! I am not on my way to becoming the Caitlyn Jenner of Taft prison camp!

The reason I have selected this topic is that I am frequently asked by friends which books I am reading and which I would recommend. Having the time to read whatever I want is one of the greatest things about being here and I am so fortunate to have so many friends sending me books!

Recently I read “Becoming Nicole” by Amy Ellis Nutt based on a review I read in the New York Times. For a few years now, I have been interested in learning more about the “Trans” world. Up until that point, I am a bit embarrassed to say I wasn’t particularly empathetic to the experience of the Trans community. This is a little strange given that I came out in San Francisco in 1981 and spent quite a bit of time around drag queens. For a very long time, I have know that sexual orientation is a fluid thing; a continuum if you will. Yes, there are many people who are 100% straight or 100% gay but also many who are somewhere on the continuum. However, it did not occur to me for a very long time that sexual identity might also be fluid and that people might fall along a continuum. In addition, I just could not wrap my head around not wanting (or wanting to change) one’s “anatomy.”

So yes, I have read the Vanity Fair articles on Caitlyn and Laverne Cox but reading “Becoming Nicole” gave me a completely different, and much deeper, perspective. Nicole was born Wyatt Maines and was an identical twin. The book is about her amazing journey and – just as importantly – the journey of her family. I really did not realize everything a Trans child has to go through and I have much more sympathy for the issues they and their families face. Although it is not the focus of the book, I also learned that there is a scientific basis for sexual identity not agreeing with anatomy. Although these agree the vast majority of the time, the development paths of these can be quite independent. The book is not preachy but is completely engrossing. The journey through childhood for a Trans child and the decisions that have to be made are very different from the “sensationalized” stories we see in the media.

I am now a big supporter of Trans rights. I used to actually think that fighting for Trans rights would get in the way of the fight for gay rights. I don’t feel that way anymore. I guess you could say my position has evolved (kind of like Hillary’s position on same sex marriage!).

Before I leave you, thanks to Marion Kessler, Sten Dahlborg, Gala Struthers, Lisa May, Anne Loomis, Trish Hayes and Holly Bennett for sending me books! I am so appreciative. I wish I knew who sent me Becoming Nicole (no slip was included in the package) but thank you to that person!

More book reviews in the future!

With love,

David

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