A Kind of Valentine’s Day Present

I just discovered reviews of both My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married by Samantha Anne Perrin, and they were a lovely reminder of what I do, and honestly, in reading the list of quotes she pulled from She’s Not, I thought to myself “did I take smart drugs when I was writing that, or something?” because I’m always a little surprised since from inside my head, and inside my life, I do not often feel smart — emotionally or otherwise.

I am convinced there is something about the process of writing that creates another mind altogether. When I get to that point where I feel like I’m transcribing and not writing, I know I’m there.

I especially appreciate this little explanation:

One of the criticisms I have read of this book is that it is repetitive. . . If you find yourself thinking that what you are reading is a repeat of something you have read before, you are not reading it! My suggestion would be to re-read, and re-read that passage until you ‘get’ its true meaning. Repetitive? Hell no!

The repetition was in large part intentional. I wanted the book to feel like driving up a mountain on a road that winds its way up there, seeing the same peak, the same view, over & over again, or keeping it in sight, but seeing it in a slightly different way depending on the turn of the road. It’s a hat tip of Didion & Woolf (who both do it so much better than I ever could).

But mostly I put this up today because reading her reviews reminded me of the love that went into the writing of both books, that they are, still, my gift to the lovely woman to whom I’m married.

Amazon Filters Out Queer/Sex Books

Not books about queer sex per se, although I’m sure those are included, but books about sexuality and/or queer topics, have lost their rankings at amazon.com. Mine included.

As Mark Probst reported, they are removing the rankings of these books exactly so they do not appear in “some searches and best seller lists.”

My Husband Betty was often categorized either in sexuality sections or in LGBT sections, but She’s Not the Man I Married is classified as a Gender Studies book.

This is bullshit. Amazon.com already gets crap ratings on the T with HRC’s Corporate Equality Index. When you see a book you like is missing its sales rank, that’s probably why: they’re filtering LGBT books out of their lists. Aside from being a bad business decision, it’s discriminatory and – well, just stupid for booksellers to be censoring their lists.

WHAT YOU CAN DO: When you find a book  that doesn’t have a sales rank, please send Amazon a message using the feedback page provided – scroll down toward the end of the page, & look for a Feedback box shaded light blue.

& GOOGLEBOMB: link to this page that redefines “amazon rank” more accurately.

Jose O. Sucuzhanay

I mentioned, in She’s Not the Man I Married, that someone may not be gendered in American way when I wrote about looking around at people on the subway. Tonight I read, in the NYT, that a young Ecuadorean man and his brother were walking home from a night out at a bar with their arms around each other. A group of thugs pulled up in an SUV, yelled slurs about them being Hispanic and about them being gay, and only left when one of the brothers said he would call the cops on his cellphone. The other brother – Jose O. Sucuzhanay – died on Friday night in the hospital.

As GenderPAC regularly points out, anti-gay violence isn’t just a problem for gay people. Anyone who is presumed to be gay, for whatever reason, can be a target. And in this case, the brothers showed affection in ways that aren’t common here in the US – even if that kind of affection is very common between men in other counties – it caused these bigots to assume they were gay men.

That’s about gender: what kinds of affection are appropriate between men, which aren’t.

I’m just so sickened and sad reading about this. For this year and for many years to come, this family will remember this violent, senseless death and this loss right before Christmas.

(h/t to kiri for posting this story in our forums)


The thing about being away is that you miss a lot of important news, like Ike and poor Gilchrist, TX; or the fact that Palin dropped 10 approval points over the weekend, or, most sadly, that novelist David Foster Wallace committed suicide this past weekend.

I was never a huge fan of his work, with the exception of Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, and of course – like every other writer alive – I was jealous of how much attention he got. The first piece I read by him was in Harper’s, and it was about cruises, and I found the endless footnoting drove me nuts, BUT – and this is a big but – his style broke through certain dull trends in novel-writing that I couldn’t bear even more. Every once in a while someone tells me that they think the footnotes of She’s Not the Man I Married is the best part of the book, and I’ve always described them jokingly as my attempt at being the David Foster Wallace of the gender set.

I’m stunned, about as stunned when I learned that another master & experimental stylist, Spalding Gray, also committed suicide. It’s a worry for people like me – prone to depression, only happy – you might even say alive – when writing. I have an old writer friend who used to ask me all the time, when we were taking writing workshops at CCNY together, whether I would choose writing or happiness, if I chose one or the other. I always said happiness.

& David Foster Wallace reminded me tonight why.

RIP, and the deepest condolences to his wife and sister.

Writing While Listening

I wrote most of My Husband Betty while listening to Rufus Wainwright‘s music, which is one of the reasons I thanked him in the foreword of that book.

She’s Not the Man I Married took motivating music; things like “Go Baby Go” by Garbage I remember listening to over & over again some nights, for its queer lyrics and sugary enthusiasm.

But now, this novel — which I started writing when I was first listening to a lot of Smiths — is now getting written to a soundtrack of nearly exclusively Elliott Smith, specifically XO, and some nights, I’m just so taken my how honeyed and gorgeous his voice was, and how much it saddens me that he won’t ever sing again. It’s just such perfect middle of the night music, somehow, full of longing and a kind of stubborn dignity, and the perfect soundtrack for this book.

Top Ten Trans Reads

Out Magazine recently put together a really asinine list of transgender books for their transgender issue. I haven’t seen the issue, but the list doesn’t really inspire me to go buy it, either, since Myra Breckinridge is on it.

For the past years I’ve always mixed my gender / feminism / trans books, but since that Top 10 of Out‘s is so lame, and the Lammies recently neglected Whipping Girl, which they shouldn’t have, I thought instead I should post my own Top Ten Recommended Trans Reads for LGBTQ readers. There are a few everyone might not need to read – like Virginia Erhardt’s Head Over Heels, which is about the partners of MTFs – or they might want to substitute Minnie Bruce Pratt’s S/he instead – but mostly this list gives a good “big picture” view of the trans community, including a variety of identities.

I might suggest different books for family & friends who are trying to understand transition but who aren’t big readers, & I’ll have to think about that list, too.

Of course now that I’ve written it I have to say I’d add my own books, My Husband Betty and She’s Not the Man I Married, too.

& Maybe The Drag Queens of New York as well.

  1. Butch is a Noun – S. Bear Bergman
  2. Gender Outlaw – Kate Bornstein
  3. Crossdressing, Sex & Gender – Bullough & Bullough
  4. Sex Changes: The Politics of Transgenderism – Patrick Califia
  5. Head Over Heels: Wives Who Stay with Crossdressers and Transsexuals – Virginia Erhardt
  6. Transgender Warriors: Making History from Joan of Arc to Dennis Rodman – Leslie Feinberg
  7. Becoming a Visible Man – Jamison Green
  8. Mom, I Need to be a Girl – Just Evelyn
  9. Whipping Girl – Julia Serano
  10. Transition & BeyondReid Vanderbergh

You’ll notice none of them is a YETA (Yet Another Transsexual Autobiography), since after you read Jenny Boylan’s She’s Not There (which I assume everyone has) you don’t need to read any others, and hers is the best-written, in my opinion. You can see the list in context on my Transgender Books page, which has reviews or links to reviews and discussions of them all.

Whipping Girl

The Lambda Literary Foundation’s list of finalists for the 2007 Lammies is out, and She’s Not the Man I Married didn’t make the cut. And I’m okay with that; it can be a little tiring to see how even trans people don’t seem to care, often, about how loved ones see/relate/deal with transness, but I’m getting used to it. Besides, I got my props the first time around, when My Husband Betty made finalist.

That said, Whipping Girl didn’t make the cut and that is absolutely 100% wrong.  & I’ll tell you why.

Whipping Girl is, to date, the only book to address, theoretically, the uneasy relationship between trans people – specifically MTF transsexual women – and feminism, and that work was long overdue. It addresses sexuality, media representations, the historical pathologization of trans people by psychologists, the fetishization of tans women’s sexualities, the inherent misogyny of a feminist politics that mocks femininity, and then some.

It has been personally & politically important to me in confronting what remained of my own “natural attitude” toward my own gender, what Serano calls cissexism (and rightfully so) and proposes the concept of “subconsious sex” which did more to explain transsexualism to me than anything ever has — outside, maybe, of Betty’s “because” model.

It’s a real shame that this book was not recognized by the Lambda Literary Foundation. It will be considered a classic, revelatory and ground-breaking book in time; it’s just sad the Foundation’s judges don’t have the foresight to give it its due now.

Julia, personally: thank you. I always appreciate when anyone, with their words and logic and anger, can make me a little less of an asshole, and Whipping Girl did that in spades.


Today Betty and I are doing our encore performance at Lawrence University – back by popular demand! – since last time around, the room was more than 50% over its seating limit and many people couldn’t get in.

We’ll start at 3:30 today. I’ll read from She’s Not the Man I Married, we’ll talk, we’ll answer questions. Come if you’re near Appleton, since it’s open to the public.


Recently, someone from Brazil inquired as to whether or not a Portuguese translation of My Husband Betty existed. Sadly, the answer is no. Neither is there a Spanish or Japanese version — which are the ones I’m most often asked about.

Seal Press owns the translation rights for My Husband Betty, but I’m pretty sure I own them for She’s Not the Man I Married. Not 100% sure, but nearly. So if you – or someone you know – is interested in publishing a different translation of either, do let me know, or contact Seal Press. Likewise for Audio versions. Personally I’d like to see all of these happen, but so far, no luck.


A great, much-needed and overdue article on the intersections of transness and race by Daisy Hernandez at ColorLines:

Louis Mitchell expected a lot of change when he began taking injections of hormones eight years ago to transition from a female body to a male one. He anticipated that he’d grow a beard, which he eventually did and enjoys now. He knew his voice would deepen and that his relationship with his partner, family and friends would change in subtle and, he hoped, good ways, all of which happened.

What he had not counted on was changing the way he drove.

Within months of starting male hormones, “I got pulled over 300 percent more than I had in the previous 23 years of driving, almost immediately. It was astounding,” says Mitchell, who is Black and transitioned while living in the San Francisco area and now resides in Springfield, Massachusetts.

This essay might be an interesting read to compare to Jacob Anderson Minshall‘s essay in “The Enemy Within: Becoming a Straight White Guy” which details what it’s been like for a feminist to transition to male. It’s in the new anthology Men Speak Out: Views on Gender, Sex, and Power.

(via Feministing, where you will also currently see a blog ad for She’s Not the Man I Married)