A discussion on the MHB message boards has brought up the issue of whether or not MHB is some kind of TG “bible,” and I have to be honest that it’s completely weird for me to hear “bible” and my book in the same sentence.
Writing is such a tricky art – it doesn’t pay, takes years to get even a foot in the door, & then – when you’ve gotten published – you’re given tremendous authority for actually knowing something. That is, when you’re an aspiring, unpublished writer, you’re basically treated like some kind of freak and/or malconent, and after one book, you’re all of a sudden an upstanding member of society.
I have a sense of humor about it, of course.
I never intended my book to be any kind of bible. To me, the only goal of writing that matters is to present the truth as the writer sees it in as clear & unblemished a way as possible. It takes plenty of craft to do even that! I’d argue it takes the MOST craft to be able to do that; since as a smart person it’s very easy to become too sophisticated to know the truth when you see it.
I have only two rules for writing: 1) from Neil Gaiman, is that when you sit down to write you’re not allowed to get up or do anything else except make tea. 2) from Dorothy Allison, is that you have to wear your skin as thin as you can.
Being complimented on having the courage to share our lives with others in order to educate is always lovely. But as I recently said to Betty, I’m not sure why being honest about our lives is so remarkable. I have never felt ashamed of my husband, and never felt ashamed of any of the feelings I have had concerning his CDing. Feelings are never anything to be ashamed of, where I come from. The kinds of things people should be ashamed of – willful ignorance, greed, a lack of integrity – are rarely what they are embarassed about. Instead, they are embarassed to be sweet, loving, sympathetic. People are embarassed about being liberal! I don’t understand that, & never will.
But my point is – Betty & I knew full well that our privacy would only remain if others respected it. That was a chance we were willing to take. Shoot, we’d already been blackmailed! Once you’ve been through something like that, you realize the ONLY way to prevent it from having it happen again is that no-one has anything on you that you wouldn’t share yourself.
Plenty of people know our legal names: you can’t go to a TG conference without a credit card, & mine doesn’t say ‘Helen Boyd’! We just didn’t want to use our legal names publicly, as it were – on the book or on TV. Mostly that was to spare our families, & our nieces and nephews, from being associated with us without their choice.
My issue as concerns our privacy is more a political one: I don’t want to see the book discredited as not being by the wife of a CD because Betty is expressing gender dysphoric feelings and exploring them. I didn’t want some CDs (who already dislike what I’ve said about sex & other things) in the book to have found a reason to say that nothing in the book holds for CDs because my husband isn’t one. Many CDs have written to me now to tell me that considering transsexualism is in fact very much a part of the path of becoming a self-accepting CD. Considering transsexualism is certainly not grounds for not identifying as a CD.
But the book was never intended as some kind of bible. I wrote it for SOs, for CDs, & for a larger audience: therapists, sexologists, the larger GLBT community. For friends, families, allies. I wrote it because I found too much propaganda & doctrine within CD literature. If it becomes a good reference book for therapists, I’ll be pleased. If it helps couples talk over issues, I’ll be thrilled. If it helps CDs come to a place where they feel less shame and self-hatred, I’ll think I did a good thing. Ultimately, I wrote it because I don’t think there is anything bad about anyone – male or female – enjoying feeling pretty and embracing a softer side of themselves, and because I don’t think it’s bad to be turned on by something others arent’ turned on by. Mostly I wrote it because although crossdressing is not usual, it’s certainly not BAD.