Great Plains Studies, Center for

 

Date of this Version

Summer 2008

Citation

Great Plains Quarterly Volume 28, Number 3, Summer 2008, pp. 248.

Comments

Copyright 2008 by the Center for Great Plains Studies, University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Abstract

What Becomes You is one book of two stories. The first is the memoir of Aaron Raz Link, a transsexual man raised in Lincoln, Nebraska, who describes his journey through trans life and queer kinship. Trained as a scientist, Link has a sharp eye for detail and offers keen descriptions of gender transition, even as he inverts many of its stereotypes. He describes the process of coming out to friends and family as watching them undergo a "sex change": a sudden reordering of their perceptions once they realize he is a man rather than a woman-and has been all along. Aaron counters the characterizations of trans-people as having dual selves, or as being one self trapped in anther's body by asking: "I wonder who the second person I'm imagined as might be?"

Link is particularly adept at mapping the intertwined mazes of psychiatry and medicine, and offers as good a description as has been published about the infuriating illogics that govern the medical management or trans sexuality: "If [the psychiatrist] had decided that I was mentally healthy, I would not have been allowed to have surgery, because a mentally healthy person wouldn't want what I wanted. I made it clear to him that I wanted surgery. He diagnosed me as mentally ill. I thanked him .... Like all transsexuals, I had to be declared mentally incompetent to make surgical decisions for myself before a competent and experienced surgeon was willing to perform surgery on me."