Transgender Book: My Husband Betty
Helen Boyd never expected to write about transvestites and their partners, yet here is her fascinating account of marriage to a cross-dresser, the intent of which is to reduce the tumult his cross-dressing causes in the couple's lives and to help more women deal better with having transgendered husbands.
Boyd was supportive from the onset of her knowledge of "Betty," but even after two years' socializing within a supportive transgender community, the Boyds' first outing in the real world terrified her because of her own and society's expectations--and that was the first of a series of painful realizations. Boyd's skill as a writer enables readers to enter a relatively hidden existence easily, and perhaps even to appreciate its complexities. Her account, though initially disquieting to some, well may become a standard text in gender studies.
A straight woman who has been married several years to a crossdressing man gives a thoughtful account of their relationship (as well as the relationships of other crossdressers she knows) in this forthright and revelatory book.
"Instead of putting a 'pretty face' on crossdressing," Boyd writes, "I think this book paints a more realistic picture." Her interest is as much in the broader issues of love and acceptance, denial and repression, human nature and sexual identity as it is in the who, when, why and how of crossdressing.
In My Husband Betty, Boyd shares personal and often intensely private moments in order to illustrate her findings, describing her husband's ritual for getting dressed as a woman and candidly admitting that she once believed that she would never be able to accept his behavior. Particularly sharp is her chapter on gendered politics, which takes to task members of the crossdressing community who isolate themselves "from all the groups who could otherwise educate and liberate them: the feminist community, the gay and lesbian communities."
Though such comments may be uncharacteristically harsh for a book that by and large supports crossdressers and their actions, Boyd's opinions lend her discussion a critical viewpoint and comprehensiveness that it might not have had otherwise. Boyd, who founded the online support group CDOD, helps out newbies to the topic by making distinctions among phrases like "transgendered" and "transvestite" that are sometimes unknowingly used interchangeably and by summarizing the history of and research into the behaviour.
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Honest and well researched, My Husband Betty is likely to become an indispensable guide for woman who are trying to forge stable, accepting relationships with crossdressing men.