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Biography Humanities Journal/Diary Nonfiction Short Story Social Sciences

Normal: Transsexual CEOs, Crossdressing Cops, And Hermaphrodites With Attitude

By Amy Bloom, 2003

Bloom takes us on a provocative, intimate journey into the lives of “people who reveal, or announce, that their gender is variegated rather than monochromatic” – female-to-male transsexuals, heterosexual crossdressers, and the intersexed. We meet Lyle Monelle and his mother, Jessie, who recognized early on that her little girl was in fact a boy and used her life saving to help Lyle make the transgender transition. On a Carnival cruise with a group of cross dressers and their spouses, we meet Peggy Rudd and her husband, “Melanie,” who devote themselves to the cause of “ordinary heterosexual men with an additional feminine dimension.” And we meet Hale Hawbecker, “a regular, middle-of-the-road, white-bread guy” with a wife, kids, and a medical condition, the standard treatment for which would have changed his life and his gender. Bloom shows the essential humanity in this infinite variety, allowing us to appreciate these people as they really are – both like and unlike everyone else – and inviting us “to see into these worlds and back out to the larger one we all share.” Casting light into the dusty corners of our assumptions about sex, gender, and identity, about what it means to be male or female, Bloom reveals new facets to ideas about happiness, personality, and character, even as she brilliantly illumines the very concept of “normal.”

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