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Crossing: A Memoir

Crossing: A Memoir - Deirdre N. McCloskey In 1995, economics professor Donald McCloskey's second child had gone off to college, and in the empty nest he indulged a little bit more in a habit of decades: cross-dressing. But with the new freedom he found it wasn't just an isolated habit and he wanted to take it further and further, become more and more a woman: by the end of the year he'd changed his name to Deirdre and was living full-time as a woman, and by summer of 1996 Deirdre had gone to Australia for The Operation. His wife had divorced her (he was already a she), his daughter wouldn't talk to her—but in his profession and elsewhere, Deirdre found new support and friends.Deirdre McCloskey doesn't want to get in your face about gender roles; she just wants to tell what it's like to want to become a woman, and then to actually do it. She tells the book in the third person, giving clear attribution to Donald's thoughts and experiences, Deirdre's, and those of "Dee" (the interim stage). It's a very quickly written book—it came out in 1999, less than two years after the last events it recounts—but that comes across not as sloppiness so much as looseness and lightness in the structure and a clear sense that there was no editing or censoring of what's on the page. This is what Deirdre thinks, period. As Deirdre the economist might say: either you find it of value, or you don't.She's thrilled about the new social avenues and acknowledgements open to her, less thrilled about learning makeup and worrying about passing. She's grateful for the easy acceptance of her sex change in academic circles, distraught over her family's rejection (including twice being arrested and committed for psychiatric evaluation, at her sister's instigation). It's hard not to read this book as an action thriller, where the protagonist's goal is simply to make the crossing safely from hero to heroine. Several times, in fact, McCloskey brings up immigrants and others who managed "crossings" which she sees as more courageous—and, going by this example, changing sex really shouldn't be that big a deal.