Book Reviews

from the inside out: Radical Gender Transformation, FTM, and Beyond, Edited by Morty Diamond

“Breaking the Gender Mold” by Morty Diamond

In the introduction essay to the anthology from the inside out: Radical Gender Transformation, FTM, and Beyond, Morty Diamond states “I was not looking for a clinical examination of gender deviation, but rather firsthand stories representing an assortment of voices and viewpoints.” The voices and viewpoints confide that “we all identify and express our gender differently, our struggle for this freedom is the same”.

Like Diamond, I too found it disappointing that “many books discussed transgendered people in a rigid structure of female-to-male or male-to-female. This system of classification overlooked other ways in which people choose to express gender”. By anthologizing so many necessary stories written by gender variant people, the stories achieve Diamond’s intention—to give “the reader insight into how we live, and who we are”. The inclusion of stories written by gender variant people from an entire range of backgrounds including race, class, and sexual orientation provides the reader with a wide spectrum of experiences.

The story Diamond tells in the introduction about who he is and how he lives summarizes many of the stories in from the inside out: “I was taking testosterone, but never wanted to become a man. Rather, I wish to become a gender that was neither male nor female”. And to that end, Diamond concludes by saying: “We must continue to keep the dialogue open if we are to achieve a place in the world where gender is allowed to be expressed by an individual however they please. To all who have ever said, ‘this doesn’t work for me,’ and stepped out of the clutches of what society deems rights; your liberation is meaningful to us all”.

from the inside out: Radical Gender Transformation, FTM, and Beyond, Edited by Morty Diamond

“Father and Son” by Mykkah Herner

In the essay “Father and Son” included in the anthology from the inside out, Mykkah Herner shares a story about his gained confidence with living among otherness: “Towards the end of that year I attended my first FTM meeting. It scared the shit out of me; I belong there in a way. Not entirely, but I had walked in the door!” From there he began to move “around the world as a non-girl.” As Mykkah “started meeting folks who identify as genderqueer (when forced to identify); folks who were queer in sexuality, and queer in sex and relationships,” he was able to learn “a municipality of specific and alternative gender identities.” A fulfilling experience for Mykkah and one that prepared him for a welcoming visit with his father.

Because he lived among otherness, Mykkah learned “a lot about how to be a son.” During a visit to his childhood home, Mykkah realized by becoming a “Daddy’s boy” he was “getting the kid and masculine parts of me validated through validating my Daddy.” When Mykkah’s father asked “Wanna try any [of my] suits?” Mykkah described the feeling of that moment as “I jumped and flipped inside” because “For the first time in his life he is willingly and intentionally passing down his clothes to someone, to his child, to me.” And in accepting his father’s clothes, Mykkah was able to experience the “first father-son bonding moment,” and felt fulfilled enough to say “goodbye to a lot of the younger selves I had visited during the week.” And like Mykkah, by shedding younger selves, or any part of ourselves keeping us from living among otherness, we too begin to move around the world with confidence knowing we and those we love belong.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s