My review of #BecomingJulie by @julieclarke56

I would like to say to start that I would recommend this book to anyone to read. But it certainly gave me disappointments.

As a father of a trans*guy reading my first book about the life of a trans* person, I have to admit I was hungry starting this book. Not for food, but for wisdom and understanding.

The parent in me was looking for deep insightful statements and intellectual explanations of the inner workings of the trans*persons mind - was looking for the Holy Grail. That parent wanted answers to all the internal questions of what they did - right or wrong - with their own child and wanted quotes they could roll out at awkward moments when they were faced with intimidating questions.

And the activist wanted bold political statements to proclaim to the authorities, governors and institutions that dehumanize trans* people with their ludicrous rules, punitive policies and exclusion of the diversity of human life.

But Julie did not play ball. Far from it. She did not fall for the book I wanted her to write. She did not try to say all the things the frustrated and angry folk wanted her to say. She did not try to right all the wrongs of the world from her soap box. No.

Julie stayed true to herself. She told her story in her own words from her own point of view and shared her journey through life in as gentle a way as she could without hiding anything or lying to the reader. It is a book that I could give to my elderly friends and relatives or to a young reader that will not do them or anyone else any harm. There are no gory details.

I think that they will have got to know one trans* person more than they knew before they read it. They will have gone on a journey with that trans*person and felt emotion with them.

And that is what will make the difference.

Many of the issues of social conformity and gender conformity Julie explored affect us all in some way and will have touched us personally. They will have a strong sense that being trans* is about who you are inside and is not something you consciously choose. And that is what people need to know. Trans* people are just like us all. They share all the feelings, hopes and dreams of humanity. They are not mad or bad.

Julie got an unusual hand when the cards of life were dealt and society likes us all to look and behave in an orderly "normal" way. Through her book Julie expresses all the ways she is just like everybody else and details her struggle to conform to societal norms to keep everyone else happy - to be the person that everyone, even Julie wants her to be.

But my biggest disappointment was that in the book, no picture was painted by Julie, of the beautiful Hebridean island of Coll. I waited patiently for her to draw me pictures through her prose, but I am left, the book read, still forced to go and see it for myself.

Thanks Julie. I will expect a wee dram with my tea!

Simon Blanckensee

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