cover image This Body I Wore: A Memoir

This Body I Wore: A Memoir

Diana Goetsch. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $28 (336p) ISBN 978-0-374-11509-8

Traversing several decades and much societal change, poet Goetsch (The Job of Being Everybody) fashions a brilliant and tapestried story of her late-in-life gender transition. As a young, assigned-male cross-dresser in 1987 New York City, Goetsch struggled to feel like she belonged. Even when the internet brought “millions of closeted people” unprecedented community in the ’90s, Goetsch writes, her reticence to settle on a fixed identity in her 30s isolated her. Still, she confesses, “I’d fantasized all my life about being a girl.” Pulled between the false promise of stability that masculinity offered and the terrifying freedom she found in feminine expression, Goetsch traces how she came to reconcile her torn selves, reckoning with the specters of an abusive childhood, navigating sexual obstacles in her adulthood, discovering Tibetan Buddhism, and, eventually, finding herself as a woman at age 50. Balancing profound personal revelations (“Gender may be the only category of human experience where what you long to be is what you are”) with cogent analysis of cultural gender narratives—including the “forced feminization” trope, “where a male gets into some predicament that makes it necessary to present as a female” (as seen in Some Like It Hot and Mrs. Doubtfire)—she constructs a gorgeous self-portrait that defies categorization. The result obliterates binary confines around gender with breathtaking finesse. (June)