Transsexual CEOs, Cross-dressing Cops, and Hermaphrodites With Attitude

Book - 2002
Average Rating:
Rate this:
Amy Bloom has won a devoted readership and wide critical acclaim for fiction of rare humor, insight, grace, and eloquence, and the same qualities distinguish Normal, her first full-length work of nonfiction. In Normal, the National Book Critics Circle Award and National Book Award finalist explores sex and gender through portraits of people who are widely considered not normal. "A great many people, sick of news from the margins, worn out by the sand shifting beneath their assumptions, like to imagine Nature as a sweet, simple voice: tulips in spring, Vermont's leaves falling in autumn," Bloom writes. "Nature is more like Aretha Franklin: vast, magnificent, capricious, occasionally hilarious, and infinitely varied." Bloom takes us on a provocative, intimate journey into the lives of "people who reveal, or announce, that their gender is variegated rather than monochromatic"--female-to-male transsexuals, heterosexual crossdressers, and the intersexed. We meet Lyle Monelle and his mother, Jessie, who recognized early on that her little girl was in fact a boy and used her life savings to help Lyle make the transgender transition. On a Carnival cruise with a group of crossdressers and their spouses, we meet Peggy Rudd and her husband, "Melanie," who devote themselves to the cause of "ordinary heterosexual men with an additional feminine dimension." And we meet Hale Hawbecker, "a regular, middle-of-the-road, white-bread guy" with a wife, kids, and a medical condition, the standard treatment for which would have changed his life and his gender. Bloom shows the essential humanity in this infinite variety, allowing us to appreciate these people as they really are--both like and unlike everyone else--and inviting us "to see into these particular worlds and back out to the larger one we all share." Casting light into the dusty corners of our assumptions about sex, gender, and identity, about what it means to be male or female, Bloom reveals new facets to ideas about happiness, personality, and character, even as she brilliantly illumines the very concept of "normal."
Publisher: New York : Random House, 2002.
Edition: 1st. ed.
ISBN: 9780679456520
Branch Call Number: 306.77 Bloom 2002
Characteristics: xv, 140 p. ;,25 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment

Jul 05, 2015

This book, by great writer Amy Bloom, began as articles for the "New Yorker." They read as three distinct pieces in this brief book, which purports to be about the "stories of people." It has too many statistics and facts, however, to make me feel the people who live with bodies most of us consider abnormal. The first, mostly about male to female transexuals, is the best. Some of her stories make us feel the pain of knowing, sometimes since toddlerhood, that the male body one inhabits isn't the "right" body for oneself. She also interviews surgeons who help in the creation of the "right" bodies for these people. Her sympathy and empathy for transpeople is clear. In the next segment, she goes on a cross-dressing cruise, where men dress up in their finest women's clothes, and their wives hang out, feeling very rarely OK, but mostly that this is not what they signed up for when they got married. Almost none of these men look like women, so they can only crossdress in a setting like this, or their own homes. It's very sad. The third section is the most "scientific," in which Bloom talks with doctors who try to explain "intersex," those very few babies born with ambiguous genitals. Until recently, surgery would be done in the first days of life to try to make the child look like the gender it most appeared to be. Nobody told the child; often nobody told the parents. Sometimes this worked. Sometimes the child, years later, turned up in a trans clinic, wanting a sex change. This section was most unclear to me. Read the novel, "Middlesex" about an intersex child, to get a much better idea, and a funny story to boot.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at My Library

To Top