What is normal? We’d like to see normal as the sweet simple way that we’re taught through stories. That normal is a husband and wife who love each other, have two and a half children, a golden retriever and volunteer at the church on weekends. In fact our definition of normal doesn’t even begin to encompass the wonders of who we are as human beings. In trying to be “normal” we strive for bland sameness, hiding the uniqueness of who we are.
In Amy Bloom’s book entitled “Normal“, she explores the world of transsexuals, crossdressers and the intersexed. It is a must read for any crossdresser who wants to understand the world of the transgendered beyond the strict definitions imposed by Tri-ESS.
I was intrigued by the story of Lyle, a teenage transgender who started hormone treatment at the age of 14. With the blessing of his mother and father who sought doctor after doctor to understand what was causing Lyle to be so unhappy. Amy expresses support for hormone treatment for transgendered teenagers.
Amy does a good job expressing the differences between sexual orientation and gender identity. Though I found her treatment of “heterosexual crossdressers” overly harsh. Perhaps it is an expression of resentment I haven’t encountered, or perhaps it shows Amy’s bias against Tri-ESS, who have largely coopted a definition of crossdresser akin to the “normal heterosexual family man who goes to church, votes Republican and just happens to wear a dress for fun”.
“Heterosexual crossdresser bother almost everyone. Gay people regard them with disdain or affectionate incomprehension, something warmer than tolerance, but not much. Transsexuals regard them as men “settling” for crossdressing because they don’t have the courage to act on their transsexual longing, or else as closeted gay men so homophobic that they prefer wearing a dress to facing their desire for another man. Other straight men tend to find them funny or sad, and some find them enraging.”
Amy does a good job sharing the concerns of girlfriends and wives of crossdressers, and either accurately or callously observes how wives tolerate crossdressing even as the men get a childish thrill out of it.
I’ll share a few interesting nuggets from the book, though this article will hardly do it justice.
The ratio of men seeking to become woman and woman seeking to become men is almost the same – very different from previous statistics that suggest four men seek to become women for every woman who wants to become a man.
There are estimated to be about five thousand post operative transsexuals in the United States, though no formal statistics are kept.
I especially appreciated this quote, by a female to male transsexual. I think he expressed well the fears of transition, and a way to overcome them. “The transition was hard, but once I was completely male, people relaxed.”
The world of the intersexed was one I had not previously learnt about, and another good reason to read Normal by Amy Bloom.