You never know what lies behind the rhetoric…

Unsympathetic book reviewer comes out — to my surprise!

"Look, I desperately wanted to have been born female. That didn't happen and I didn't do anything about it to change that. I'm not a victim. Let me just live out my life in the physical self that I am, and just be happy with what I have. I have a family and it's no longer all about me."

A few days ago I went to the Amazon.com page for my book, Transparently: Behind the Scenes of a Good Life, and was dismayed by a less than favorable review. I have thin skin, I have come to realize, but I was mostly upset about the quote above, which was his opinion of how I should have dealt with my gender dysphoria at my age. I wondered how this particular reviewer could be so harsh and insensitive, especially in view that he had over seventy reviews on books dealing with gender dysphoria and transsexualism. Surely, I reasoned, if this person has read this many books on the subject, how could he still be making this kind of statement?

I don't know if other authors ever attempt to connect with their critics, or if they simply take the good reviews with the bad and go on their way. Is there a protocol for this? As I said, I don't know. 

Finding this reviewer's email address was relatively easy through his Amazon profile. My email to him was polite, I believe, but I did express my disappointment with what he had said about the book. Darn, I wish I had a copy of the email I sent, but I don't. I purged my Gmail mailboxes a few days ago and it's now gone. One of the things he said about me was that I used a lot of self-justification for my decisions, to which I countered it had taken me almost ten years to reconcile my faith to the diagnosis I received at the gender clinic. Admittedly, I said, the last third of the book deals with this process and it does have 'religious' undertones because, after all, my faith was important to me and I was not going to trample over it. Equally important, I was not going to park my brain on the shelf. 

His response arrived the following day and it took me by surprise. The negativity in his review had not sat well with him either, and even before he received my message, he had already removed the review in Amazon. He was sincerely sorry for having said the things he did and proceeded to say how much he respected my journey and my courage.

The funny thing is his review threw me into a funk that lasted a couple of days during which I licked my wounds and did some soul searching. Who did I think I was in the first place, to publish a book and think it would be of any use to anyone? What in the world was I thinking? And now that the deed was done, why was I feeling sorry for myself like I was? All of this questioning was what prompted me to write him in the first place. But now his response to my email had left me feeling somewhat vindicated, but more importantly, humbled.

Then, this morning, I received a most touching email from this person. Turns out this person, too, is transgender.  Instead of transitioning as I have done, he has actually taken his own medicine. From the photo in his profile, I surmise he is several years older than me. As much as he would have liked to transition as I have, he never did, and chose instead to devote his attention to helping others by trying to understand gender dysphoria, hence his insatiable interest in the subject. He has become a licensed marriage & family therapist in private practice and for this, my hat goes off to him. He calls me courageous? Well friends, that is what I call him. I was not strong enough to choose his remedy for myself—not all trans stories have the same ending, do they?

Rhetoric at times can be a smokescreen. I need to remember that. My basic instinct, when attacked or criticized, is to either sulk or lash out. I need to learn to consider the possibility that those who attack may themselves be hurting, just like me; and I need to consider this more often. Instead of taking a defensive posture, I need to be willing to pray for my 'enemies.' I pray this will become my reflex/reaction going forward.

Don't be afraid to add a comment below... I always appreciate feedback! 

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