Sunday 30 July 1995
2 A Self-Made Man by Paul Hewitt with Jane Warren, Headline pounds 10.99. This is the latest in the sub-genre "I was trapped in a man's/woman's body". Bubbly blonde 26-year-old Martine had it all: "I was born perfectly female, the ideal biological specimen in fact ... When I wore a skirt I looked slinky and attractive and male attention was aplenty." She even earned pin money as "a sexy stripagram" in her home town of Reading. But deep inside she knew something wasn't right. Finally, in desperation, she blurted out her confused feelings to a nurse friend - "So you think you're transsexual?" came the reply. Martine was gobsmacked: "I looked blankly at her white face part-hidden by wide glasses ... Transsexual sounded like something sinister and deviant." And thus begins the emotional and physical rollercoaster from woman to man, from Martine to Paul: the trips to Top Man to buy the first tie, the agonising over which penis to get and then the regret over ordering an extra large, the battles with the doctors and psychiatrists, the final victory after "leaving the boobs on the operating table", and, toughest of all, trying to get British Telecom to change "his" account name. Co-author Jane Warren is a features writer on the Daily Express, which no doubt helps explain the exclamatory mid- market style. Perhaps it also explains the rather tortuous moral tone which seems to run through the book - Paul is horrified when a gay man tries to pick him up in London's Earls Court and his previous lesbianism is best forgotten, but becoming a "man" is a return to "normality". For a more insightful memoir, turn to last year's transgendering hit, Gender Outlaw by the feisty Kate Bornstein (Routledge, pounds 19.99). Bornstein lived as a heterosexual male for 37 years, before having the op in 1986. Since then "she" has lived as a lesbian and now "her" current partner is switching sex from woman to "man". Now that is worthy of a Daily Express features writer.
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