I suspect I don’t like memoirs. This book about Haskell’s sibling’s decision to undergo transgender surgery later in life had me gritting my teeth a lot of the way through it. Some of this was probably because I’ve come up discussing trans* issues online and I’m aware of a lot of the etiquette surrounding those discussions. How you refer to people’s sex and gender, the things you do and don’t talk about, the lazy traps you can fall into that are hurtful for trans* people and their allies. Haskell does most of these things: midgenders people, does the “but what about your PENIS” things, insists on the primacy of her own views and feelings (it is a memoir, this is not necessarily a bad thing) and just makes her sister’s difficult late in life transformation all about her.
That said, this book got a lot of positive reviews and it may be serving a purpose for people who are coming to trans* issues from a differing perspective. Privileged people who never really gave it much thought before and are suddenly confronted. Thinky people who wants to look at transgender issues through the lens of Greek Myths. Chatty people who can’t imagine having a big event happen in their family and being asked not to talk about it as if that were such a huge inconvenience. People newer to trans* issues may enjoy these parts and not mind the other parts. I found many of Haskell’s views difficult to take and found myself rooting even more for her sister than I might otherwise.