I did not write the piece published as an open letter from me to “Mrs. Maloney” – she doesn’t even appear to have a first name – in today’s UK Mirror, a tabloid. I was interviewed yesterday by one of the paper’s reporters with the understanding that he was writing a piece on the effects of a public gender transition on the wife and children of the trans person. He apparently spliced together some of my remarks with excerpts from my book previously published in the UK Guardian. As anyone who has read those excerpts, or my book, will recognize, the sentiments are more or less mine; the rather lame writing is not.
What is more important to clarify is that I would never presume to know what a woman I have never met was feeling or thinking or to intrude on her experience in this public manner. Her experience is hers. Not mine, not her husband’s, not anyone else’s.
That, actually, is what the reporter got right: “Mrs. Maloney” and anyone else in her or my situation has the right to our experience, and the right to be true to ourselves.
Kirkus Reviews September 26, 2012
A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On
Author: Benvenuto, Christine
Review Issue Date: October 15, 2012
Online Publish Date: September 30, 2012
Price ( Hardcover ): $25.99
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
ISBN ( Hardcover ): 978-0-312-64950-0
The brave, often funny account of how a woman came to terms with her husband’s decision to become female.
When Benvenuto discovered that Tracey, her husband of 20 years, wanted to live as a woman, she was shocked. Suddenly, their shared closet became filled with women’s clothes ranging from “tarty and juvenile [to] conservative and middle aged.” The author watched with a mixture of sadness, amusement and horror as her husband began shaving his body hair and taking the hormones that would cause him to lose weight and permanently complain of “fatigue, stomach ailments and dizziness.” As difficult as it was for her to see Tracey’s transformations, it was even more confusing for her two young daughters and her pre-adolescent son. Was Daddy a man, a woman or, as her toddler asked, a “guy-woman”? Friends (especially female ones), therapists and even the members of a Jewish community group to which the pair belonged all seemed to side with Tracey and his struggles. Few understood Benvenuto’s own awkward position as a “transwidow” or the fact that she was unwilling to rewrite her past life with him so that Tracey could become “she.” The author finally divorced Tracey. Even in the aftermath, however, neighbors and strangers in the hometown she calls “the Valley of the Politically Correct” still display a voyeuristic delight in inquiring whether Tracey had taken the last surgical step toward attaining womanhood. In an unexpected twist, Benvenuto found fulfillment with another man. The personal and moral complications in this book are many, but all make for thought-provoking reading.
A refreshingly gutsy narrative that offers a compelling view of sexual maturity and a sexual coming-of-age at midlife.