Monday, February 21, 2011

Almost Perfect

I just finished reading a book called Almost Perfect By Brian Katcher.

Let me rephrase that. I just finished crying my eyes out, laughing, smiling, crying with joy, and crying my eyes out some more while reading this book. I couldn't put it down and for the first time in a long time, I read a 350 page book in one sitting.

The story is about a boy, a senior in high school who meets the "new girl" at school and they start getting close but she keeps pulling away even though she's flirty. One day, he kisses her and she tells him she's transgender. (Note: in the story she actually says she's 'a boy' which i really hate) He at first freaks out and can't deal with it...all he can think of is that he kissed a BOY. But after a while they rekindle things and their relationship kind of goes up and down throughout the whole story.

Let me just say that while I didn't transition at 14 like the girl in the story, I can still relate to her experiences in so many ways. Her parents reject her, they're ashamed of her, they move her out of state and home school her for 5 years after she tries to commit suicide and they see they cant make her "act like a boy". It's only after she turns 18 that they can't stop her from going to public school...and that's how she meets the main character.

I cried every time she was rejected by the main character....I cried like it was my own....because I have been rejected like that already in the past year by many guys who really "don't get it". The main character kept having these stupid revelations like "wow she really has boobs" and "wow she doesn't look or sound or feel like a boy at all" and I just wanted to scream at him "OF COURSE NOT! SHE'S A GIRL!"

The worst part was when she went out with a different guy to make the main character jealous and the guy literally beat the snot out of her. I bawled. She went to the hospital and didn't want to live anymore and was committed to a psychiatric hospital. Wait that still wasn't the worst part. The worst part was when the main character comes to see her at the hospital and she tells him that she's moving away and never wants to see him again because she never wants him to see her as a man....because she's detransitioning. I cried so hard I couldn't read the pages at that point.

She had such a hard time living as a girl, being rejected, and realizing that her life would never be the same...she would always have to tell someone. Someone would always have to know. She was opting for the other way out, a fate worse than death, a life of complete misery: trying to be something she was most definitely not: a man. The main character feels so completely horrible, i think he (and the reader) truly just want her to be who she really is, whether she ever sees him again or not.

I have a lot of mixed emotions after reading this book and in fact, I'm feeling very emotionally drained. On one hand, I'm thankful that my circumstances in some ways were quite different and I have been very fortunate. On another hand I'm insanely jealous that she got to start transition at 14 and that by 18 she had 36B breasts. (not to mention no male puberty to screw her body up) But yet on the other hand, reading about her giving up and talking about detransition tore at my heart so badly. I'm realizing right now as I write this that I fear detransition worse than I will ever fear death.

When she talked about her own suicide attempt, I was taken back to that night a year and a half ago when I, myself was unable to keep living. I don't know why but sometimes I doubt that night, maybe because I was in a crazed state thanks to the men's bible study or maybe because it didn't seem to affect my parents and their decision to disown me in any way. But I am reminded that it was very real and after all I have been through and all the joy I have experienced (despite all the pain too) I could find myself back in that garage with the engine running if the only other option was to "be a man".

In closing, I'd like to thank the author for the Author's note in the back that not only tells the reader that these kinds of events really have happened (and still happen) to transgender people but also warns transgender readers to seek help and gives a few resources to do so.

I'd recommend the book to anyone, transgender or not.


Caroline said...

The ignorant and stupid are holding back public understanding and acceptance in so many places.

We need more positive actions like this book, even if it puts us on an emotional roller coaster to read it.

Caroline xxx

Lucy Melford said...

I don't quite understand what 'detransitioning' could mean here. Yes, she could halt her transitioning in its tracks and have a rethink. Yes, she can bow to intense pressure and do what other people said they wanted her to do, or be. It might seem an easier way. But in her heart she couldn't change.

The girl had grown quite large breasts. Those wouldn't go away on their own. She'd have to have an operation to reduce them. And then what about the other parts of the body that had grown in a decidedly feminine way? They couldn't easily be altered, not to the extent that a natal girl would wish. So I feel that 'becoming a boy again' wouldn't really be possible for this person.

The main problem for her - a character in a book, of course, but nevertheless a representative for many other teenage transsexuals in a similar situation - are the immature and dangerous attitudes of her high school peers. It must be terribly hard to keep hold of what you are and where you are going when subject to violence and hostility like this.

I don't know the answer. Transfer to another school? And be much less open in the future?

It's not so hard to resign yourself to a life without sex or relationships when you're older, but a young person, with so much ahead, so much to give, must look on that with horror.


Dana Andra said...

On the subject to de-transitioning alone ... it would be like walking backwards into a past that no longer exists. My ex-wife, and my son especially, disagree with what I'm doing, and if there was a motivation to end my journey here, that would be it. My son doesn't want to spend time with me. At all. He'll talk with me on the phone, but that's it, and I love him more than anything in life. My ex-wife (my very interesting typo her was "ex-life") thinks that what I'm doing is a choice, and that I could stop transitioning at any time, if only for our son's sake. But the truth is that, no, I couldn't. To stop would mean to enter a void of non-existence. Transitioning might be a decision, but it's not a choice, and de-transitioning is not an option.


Brian Katcher said...

That's some powerful stuff, Debra. I hope 'Almost Perfect' affected you as much as your post did me. Thank you for your kind words.

On destransitioning: While Sage ultimately decides to be true to herself and stay female, I was just trying to show how utterly low and betrayed she felt, both by society and by Logan. Though most transpeople I've talked to say that once you live full time as the right gender, it's nearly impossible to go back.

Thanks again for this wonderful review.

Debra said...

Ok I'm going to hold back my instinct to let out girly screams about the author of the book commenting on my review......and simply compose myself and say thank you for your comment, Brian. =)

As for is nearly impossible but not completely. There have been people that have done so, only to later commit suicide. I think you really did a great job at showing how betrayed she heart just got caught somewhere in the talk of detransition and the tears flowed free from there.

Sally Sapphire said...

"I have a lot of mixed emotions after reading this book and in fact, I'm feeling very emotionally drained."

I felt exactly the same way, Debra. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it.

Post a Comment

Total Pageviews