Thursday, August 2, 2018
SELF-ish: A Transgender Awakening: a book review
by Chloe Schwenke
Released May 4, 2018
Red Hen Press
SELF-ish: A Transgender Awakening is an open look at how transitioning from a man to woman affected Chloe Schwenke in all areas of her life.
Schwenke covers a lot of ground in this memoir. She shares her own journey of navigating her identity, of therapy sessions with both helpful and unhelpful therapists. She shares her own questions of what it means to transition to the gender she identifies with and it what it would mean not to. She discusses coming out as transgender to her father, siblings, wife, children, friends, and colleagues, and how it affected those relationships.
As such, the reader gets to see how her family changed with the news. Was it possible to stay married? What is her new parental identity now that she is no longer “father?” Is she “mother” or something else? Does she make that determination or do her children decide?
In the professional realm, we see how Schwenke approached her human resources representative, the email she sent to her colleagues to announce that beginning Monday, Stephen would no longer be showing up and Chloe would be. There were follow-up discussions with colleagues who wanted to learn more, as well as follow-up discussions with management who ultimately fired her. Then the new job search.
Schwenke also explores what it means to be part of the womanhood and her fears of not being accepted. As she develops experiences of being accepted by women, she wonders what it means to be a grown woman who does not have the experience of girlhood.
She also talks about the transition period during which she had not yet undergone surgery, but was presenting herself as a woman. During that time she traveled out of the country with a passport that still listed her gender as male, which caused quite a delay in Turkish customs. Later, she expresses her appreciation of being welcomed to Africa as Chloe after previously working there as Stephen.
There are so many nuanced aspects to the stories of transgender experience, far beyond those that cisgender people might think about. I appreciated so much that this book covered so much and answered questions I didn’t even know to ask.
Readers who love well-told memoir and those who want to gain a deeper understanding of transgender experience -- whether cisgender or transgender themselves -- will get a lot from this book. It covers everything with the perfect combination of frankness and emotion.
Disclaimer: I received an advance-read copy of this book via Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.
Mooncakes by Suzanne Walker (author), Wendy Xu (illustrator) Rating: 5 stars What It's About Nova is a young woman with witchcraft in ...