“Alice in Genderland: A Crossdresser Comes of Age” is a memoir by Dr. Richard A. Novic. So, a couple of points to make upfront. This is a memoir of a crossdresser that also happens to be a psychiatrist. I think this combination adds an interesting angle to the conversation. First as he points out this is the first memoir about a crossdresser specifically. There have been many from the transgender point of view but none that he or I have been aware of from the point of view of a crossdresser. Second the fact that he is a psychiatrist I think adds a level of professional insight into the topic that is interesting and helpful. He starts off where many of us begin with the memories of his childhood and the first times finding women’s clothing both fascinating and exciting. I found this opening section to be very interesting because of how much of it I could completely identify with and understand.
One of the issues I have with this and other books I have read discussing gender dysphoria is the language used. Depending on who is writing and when the book is written the language has evolved over time, He uses some, what I consider, outdated language. This does not take away from the benefits I took from this story. He identifies as a crossdresser, and then also calls himself transgender. He refers to transwomen as transsexuals, using the surgery as the determining factor. This distinction I think needs to be updated. He also uses male pronouns when he is Richard and female pronouns as Alice, I find this to be a very comfortable recognition of who the author is. He does get into defining many terms to bring clarity to his writing, and I think he does a great job of helping people understand the subject matter. I like how confident he is in talking about many facets of the lifestyle. He has many great stories of how his life evolved and how Alice evolved over time. Describing the key relationships Alice develops over time. Richard plans out how and when Alice will go out. The feelings of coming out to key people. He compartmentalized his life into Richard the professional, the man the husband and Alice the crossdresser, the woman and the lover. I think most of us would agree Alice is transgendered but that creates a great opportunity to discuss just what gender identity means and how it is evolving as we comfortably discuss the implications. I highly recommend this book for anyone trying to better understand the gender issues.
I have read a bunch of books on these topics and think one of the most important things I have learned through this learning process is that everyone has their own journey. No one can tell you what your reality is. Whether you identify as CIS, Trans or genderqueer; express sexually as straight, gay, Bi or poly, we need to give ourselves the freedom to be who we are. This book gives a strong voice to those who find themselves somewhere in between. There is more to this book than a simple reviewer can hope to condense into a paragraph or 2 so I hope you will read this book and share your thoughts. Being able to talk about our experiences and our feelings will makes us better people in general.