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Confessions of a Gender Defender : A Psychologist's Reflections on Life Among the Transgendered



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Book Details

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160 pages
1996 Oct 1
Book length
Publication date

Publisher Chicago Spectrum Press (October 1, 1996)
Language English
ISBN-10 1886094519
ISBN-13 978-1886094512
Product Dimensions 8.6 x 6.5 x 0.4 inches
Shipping Weight 8.2 ounces
Average customer review
Best-sellers rank #760,586 in Books
#62 in Gay & Lesbian - Biographies & Memoirs - Transgender
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Customer Reviews

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See all 17 customer reviews
Transsexualism is not a mental illness.
Transfeminist
As a clinical social worker who works with the transgendered population, I highly recommend this book.
Bonnie Brody
We are all just like women, or at least we like to think we are.
Andrea Jim

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 24, 1997
Format: Paperback
Having recently come to the realization that I was seriously transgendered myself it was with a fresh viewpoint that I read this book. What I found in reading this work was something that truly touched my heart and soul. The descriptions,both through Dr. Ettner's and her patient's eyes, put into words the feelings and emotions that I have just started to come to grips with. Dr. Ettner shows the love and compassion that seem to be missing in so many of the books written about transgender people. Rather than filling the book with dry clinical terms and emotionless analysis of why these people are who they are she instead chose to show the depth of both her own feelings towards this group of people and the depth of the client's emotions as well. As a result, in the land of stodgy works that treat transgender people more as lab rats than people ,thus choking out all emotions or spiritual matters, this book reads like a breath of fresh air. Since emotions play such a big role in how someone with a gender identity issue lives their lives and sees themselves a book without them is missing a large part of the story. Some people might criticize the lack of "scientific objectivity" in this book; personally, I find that in eschewing this the book is much better at getting information to people than if it were full of clinical methodology and analysis.

The book, due to its very nature, is an easy read and yet is so compelling due to the viewpoint and style of its author that I think most readers will find it hard to put down. The mix of sadness and joy that fill this book will touch the heart of almost any reader, whether transgendered or not. I will caution readers that if you get embarassed easily by crying in public don't read this book in a public place; I don't come to tears easily and I cried several times while reading this book.

Overall this book does a big service in trying to describe what has been a very difficult and often shame filled subject and make it into just another facet of human expression and existence, with all the highs and lows and joy and sorrow that come along with any form of being human. It demystifies who transgender people are and helps others understand that they are just trying to find happiness and live the way they strongly feel they must. In addition to helping those who are not transgender understand better the book also helps those of us who find ourselves to be this way to better understand who we are and why we feel the way we do and that we are not alone.

This book is the one book that I would recommend without hesitation to anyone either trying to come to grips with their own gender status or for those trying to understand others in this situation. Brava to Dr. Ettner!
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 3, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book really opened my eyes to the turmoil which my child has been going through for most of her life. It gave me an expanded view of the separation of gender and sex.

I read this book in a single reading: laughing, then crying. It has helped me to accept my childs condition, understand the social risks and rewards, what is typically the several years long process of transition and has inspired me to do all I can to support her in what will be a difficult time, physically and emotionally.

Thank you, Randi Ettner, thank you from the bottom of my heart.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 21, 1998
Format: Paperback
of the transgendered. As we on the outside of this condition try to understand it and take it as seriously as the individuals deserve, Dr. Ettner's book is easily readable, compassionate, and compelling. Particularly apt for someone who doesn't want to be overwhelmed with hundreds of pages or too much scientific jargon.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 8, 1996
Format: Paperback
Riki Robbins, PhD said it best :
"I have a confession to make. I picked up Randi Ettner's "Confessions of a Gender Defender" and read it in one night....... I simply couldn't put it down"
"Randi's 'Confessions...' is not just another good read. Sure, its a page turner, powerfully written and full of humor. But it's more than that. 'Confessions of a Gender Defender' is a book:"
"-About Sex. As Randi chronicles the unique lives of transexuals, we begin to understand that human beings, not freaks. We wonder. 'What is sexually normal anyway? Do only married 100% pure heterosexual men and women who have sex in the missionary position 1.5 times a week qualify? What about transexuals, transvestites, sado-masochists, dominants/submissives, gays, and people who have affairs? The number of people who qualify as sexually "normal" may be exceedingly small.' What a shocking thought."
"-About Dealing with Adversity. Until I read this book, I never realized the mental and physical agony transexuals endure. Randi describes their humiliation, ostracism, and mutilation: she also paints a picture of their heroism. People who initially attempt suicide end up standing up for themselves. People who hide out for years find the strength to risk their job, their, their marriage, and their family to be integrity with themselves. Their courage inspires me."
"-About Ourselves. 'Confessions' is not just about the unique behavior of transsexuals. It's about how we can better understand ourselves. On pp.99-100, Randi poses the question: 'Should we accept ourselves exactly as we think God made us -- or should we do whatever we need to do to be happy? If a transsexual needs hormones, surgery, electrolysis, or a new wardrobe to feel alive, instead of suicidal, is s/he wrong? If we need to get plastic surgery, leave our spouse, become bisexual, or have an affair to fully enjoy life are we wrong? Who are we to judge transsexuals? Who shall judge the judges?' "
"Yes, you'll spend about three hours reading the book -- and at least three weeks fully digesting its message. It's well worth it. Confessions of a Gender Defender is required reading for anyone who seeks a Ph.D. in 'understanding life'."
I couldn't agree more :
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By MOLLY REDA on November 30, 1999
Format: Paperback
EXCELLENT,WELL WRITTEN BOOK,FOR THOSE WANTING TO INCREASE, NOT ONLY THEIR KNOWLEDGE OF THE GENDER DYSPHORIA ISSUE,BUT ALSO OF HUMAN COMPASSION, SUFFERINGS AND THE EVER ENDUREING HUMAN SPIRIT. "THANK YOU TO RANDI FOR THIS SORELY NEEDED PRESENTATION OF THIS ISSUE" MOLLY
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on November 8, 1996
Format: Paperback
Gender dysphoria is the medical profession's term for the belief that one's gender does not align with one's biological sex.


Those who cross the divide (from male to female or female to male) are called transsexuals or transgendered by many, but, sadly, are called freaks by some.


Estimated at affecting 1 of 30,000 individuals, gender dysphoria is certainly not common, but neither is it unknown. Currently transsexuals are the staple of tv talk shows and Leno jokes, but these people are simply attempting to life within society on society's terms.


Dr Randi Ettner is a psychologist who has devoted her life to counseling those with gender dysphoria, helping them to adjust to society's rigid rules when possible and, when not possible, helping them to cross the rigid barrier we call gender. She has written a sensitive, caring book about her experiences, humorous at times, heart breaking at others.


Ettner's book is a wonderful antidote to the cruelty of talk tv, but, more importantly, will provide an important window on this condition that, unless addressed can easily result in mutilation, victimization or suicide.


Kristin Hayward [...]
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