SELF-ish is a narrative drawn from an international life, beginning with some early glimpses out at the world by a girl in a boy’s body. Chloe Schwenke was raised as Stephen in a Marine Corps family, and was sent off at age fourteen to “man-up” at a military academy. Later—and still embodied as a man—she ventured abroad to work in some of the roughest regions of Africa, the Gaza Strip, Turkey, and many other locales. Her far-flung global journey was matched in intensity by an inner identity and spiritual struggle and the associated ravages of depression, before she came to the revelation of being a transgender woman. At a time when many Americans are just waking up to the reality of the transgender phenomenon, this portrayal of Chloe’s life, her challenging gender transition, and her many accomplishments and adventures along the way (including being among the first three transgender political appointees in U.S. history, under President Obama), creates a poignant story of authenticity, self-discovery, and the meaning of gender set against a fascinating international backdrop.
By Chloe Schwenke, 2018