"The Riddle of Gender" Deborah Rudicille

  • August 7, 2006 10:28 PM BST
    I have to say that this is probably the most complete and informative book on Transgender topics by a non-transgendered author that I have ever read. I am definitely making this one available to my family, co-workers and anyone who requests it, during my transition.

    This book does not rely as much on case histories or personal experiences to make its point, but it does manage to capture much of the human experience of being transgendered. In addition to this, it includes a thorough examination of the often-neglected biological case for transsexuality, as well as uncovering the hidden modern history that we so often seem deprived of.

    Rudicille's book is written from the point of view of someone struggling to understand her friend's choice to transition from female to male. As such, she makes a point of answering the questions that she (like many of our family and friends) had along the way, and showing why she came to respect and empathize with the transgendered world. She also takes care to demonstrate how the transgender rights movement grew from its genesis alongside gay and feminist rights, and then fell into head-to-head conflict with them; how misguided researchers like John Money sometimes derailed the trans movement (even tragically) and at other times provided unexpected boons. She contrasts the conservative pure-transition beliefs of Aleshia Brevard with the slightly more radical and streetwise Third Sex ideals of Sylvia Rivera in an unbiased way that allows readers to determine for themselves what is truer to them. Throughout, she includes interviews with many several trans professionals and pivotal figures in the trans movement.

    This book seems to me to be very comprehensive, and at the same time both sympathetic and balanced. It is highly recommended to those looking for a book to help others understand what being transgendered is all about.