A journalist and activist’s debut memoir about the fraught year preceding their decision to “correct my aberrated [gender] condition” and become a trans man.
Dunham knew from childhood that they were different. While their parents and friends “cherished me for being a little girl,” the author knew that they were “tricking” those people. Adolescence was an especially traumatic time. The author felt compelled to fit in with girls but also secretly desired them and dreamed of tying them up. Filled with self-loathing for being a “pervert,” Dunham deliberately tried to make their developing body disappear through starvation diets. As they grew into adulthood, they became increasingly aware of a misalignment between their body and their sense of who they were. This dysphoria created a “bodily claustrophobia” that made Dunham seek relief through painful relationships that never satisfied. The first was with a girl who told them that she wanted them to be “her best friend, her sister, her mother” but did not want them to be her lover. Another was with a lesbian woman who introduced Dunham to polyamory and an “existential dread” that wrought havoc with their sense of self. An especially intense relationship involved a bisexual woman who made Dunham feel that they were a “fiction” with no substance. Renewing acquaintance with a trans woman who had begun the journey toward physically manifesting femininity ultimately had the most profound effect on Dunham. That relationship forced them to not only confront the clearness of their existence and modes of desire. It also inspired Dunham to overcome a deep-seated fear of transforming their body to more closely match their complex inner identity. Candid and compassionate, this book offers a view of one person’s trans experience that defies categorization as much as it defies resolution.
Elegant, eloquent, and deeply personal.