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Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On

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What do you do when the other woman is your husband? A wife's memoir of her husband's sex change Christine Benvenuto had been married for more than twenty years—with three young children—when her husband turned to her one night in bed and said "I'm thinking constantly about my gender." He was unhappy in his body and wanted to become a woman. Part memoir, part voyeur's look i What do you do when the other woman is your husband? A wife's memoir of her husband's sex change Christine Benvenuto had been married for more than twenty years—with three young children—when her husband turned to her one night in bed and said "I'm thinking constantly about my gender." He was unhappy in his body and wanted to become a woman. Part memoir, part voyeur's look into a marriage, Sex Changes is a journey through the end of a marriage and out the other side. We see a woman, desperate to save her family and shelter her children, discover a well of strength and resilience she never knew she had. We learn what to tell the neighbors when your husband starts wearing heels with his shirts and ties. We see a woman open herself to a group of friends who travel with her through her darkest times, provide light and levity throughout—and who offer the opportunity to learn how to give as well as receive the love and support of true friendship. When she lost her husband to skirts and hormones, life made Chris a better woman. Sex Changes is the story of what one woman discovered about herself in the midst of the conflagration of her family. Fiercely funny, self-lacerating, and not entirely politically correct, Sex Changes is a journey of love and anguish told with hilarity, heartbreak and a lot of soul searching. It is about the mysteries in every marriage, the secrets we chose to keep, and the freedom that the truth can bring.


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What do you do when the other woman is your husband? A wife's memoir of her husband's sex change Christine Benvenuto had been married for more than twenty years—with three young children—when her husband turned to her one night in bed and said "I'm thinking constantly about my gender." He was unhappy in his body and wanted to become a woman. Part memoir, part voyeur's look i What do you do when the other woman is your husband? A wife's memoir of her husband's sex change Christine Benvenuto had been married for more than twenty years—with three young children—when her husband turned to her one night in bed and said "I'm thinking constantly about my gender." He was unhappy in his body and wanted to become a woman. Part memoir, part voyeur's look into a marriage, Sex Changes is a journey through the end of a marriage and out the other side. We see a woman, desperate to save her family and shelter her children, discover a well of strength and resilience she never knew she had. We learn what to tell the neighbors when your husband starts wearing heels with his shirts and ties. We see a woman open herself to a group of friends who travel with her through her darkest times, provide light and levity throughout—and who offer the opportunity to learn how to give as well as receive the love and support of true friendship. When she lost her husband to skirts and hormones, life made Chris a better woman. Sex Changes is the story of what one woman discovered about herself in the midst of the conflagration of her family. Fiercely funny, self-lacerating, and not entirely politically correct, Sex Changes is a journey of love and anguish told with hilarity, heartbreak and a lot of soul searching. It is about the mysteries in every marriage, the secrets we chose to keep, and the freedom that the truth can bring.

30 review for Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On

  1. 5 out of 5

    B Newmark

    The book is honest and true. Having your life torn away from you is hard as hell. I recommend this book with an open heart. I would like to note that the writers ex husband has launched a campaign to trash this book. How dare a woman tell her own story? The ex left a very spiteful review of the book on this site and has had other do the same--and that really is part of a bigger issue. See J. Ladin review The narcissism the manipulation of the Ms. Joy Ladin’s review on her ex wife’s book is part The book is honest and true. Having your life torn away from you is hard as hell. I recommend this book with an open heart. I would like to note that the writers ex husband has launched a campaign to trash this book. How dare a woman tell her own story? The ex left a very spiteful review of the book on this site and has had other do the same--and that really is part of a bigger issue. See J. Ladin review The narcissism the manipulation of the Ms. Joy Ladin’s review on her ex wife’s book is part and parcel of the tactics that are being used against Ms. Benvenuto to damage her book’s opportunities for publicity. In another comment that Ms. Ladin wrote she said “I would have hurt or killed myself,” Okay, so staying alive meant Ms. Ladin spends her time trying to damage Ms, Benvenuto writing career. Please note that Ms. Ladin is the first comment and no doubt she is trolling her ex-wife. Does that really seem “stable” and “supportive” behavior? While “the trans” card has been a boon for Ms. Laudin, really a minor poet prior, she has since her transition made herself not only into a cause celeb but also, a speaker, an expert in Judaism and spirituality –-an all round opportunist on the PC circuit. Fine. But what is not fine is the fact that she has done and has her group do everything possible to make sure that Ms. Benvenuto does not get the publicity her book deserves. Internet communications have leaked out showing how group en mass sent out messages to people in the gay and trans communities and organize a campaign against Ms. Benvenuto book to protest it and produce bad publicity surrounding it. A launched a mob attack. And at the same time, all cried in unison—on 3 “TRANSPHOBIA” when they in fact were bashing Ms. Benvenuto. Why? Joy Ladin and her posse is bent on not letting Ms. Benvenuto have her own story as a woman, an ex-wife, and as a mother. Ms. Ladin, true to opportunistic form has rallied a band of people that hate heterosexual women like poison and who have slandered, maligned and insulted Ms.Benvenuto using every possible cliché about women, wives and mother’s Anyone who buys the poor pitiful me should be advised –this is one strong smart cookie, and no heterosexual women better ever try to get in her way. And that my friends is way more creepy than a man in skirt. I wish Ms. Laudin would really spare people the “innocence” pose documents reflecting the call to arms to “silence” Ms. Benvenuto weave their way to writers, editors, Rabbis all over—people hit forward in horror. And while there is real transphobia in the world Ms. Ladin has used the accusation in the most cynical and disgusting way possible, to damage her ex wife and in so doing she has damaged people, because to trivialize it corrupts any true and future claim. But manipulative people that bully are not often sensitive to any real claims because it is all just a power game. And if you don’t believe that Ms. Ladin is attempting to damage her ex wife’s carreer Here is a copy of the Review on Good Read Ms. Laudin Gave to the book. “It won't be giving anything away to reveal that this is an angry book. The author's anger about her husband's transition from living as a man to living as a woman is hard to untangle from her repulsion at the idea of transgender identity. As always, it's hard to evaluate the reliability of an angry memoir, to judge the accuracy of the author's account of what angered her. In this case, readers can (and should) also read Ms. Benvenuto's ex-husband's side of the story, in the memoir Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders, by Joy Ladin, published in March 2012. Some of the facts are the same in both memoirs; some are very different. But the reader of both books will be able to evaluate Ms. Benvenuto's claims about Ladin's indifference to the suffering of her family, Ladin's mental instability, and Ladin's conduct of her gender transition.” (Emphasis mine by Joy Ladin) While it plugs her own book it neglects to mention that she is the reviewer and is the ex husband, and is the father of the writer’s childern— And (nice touch) she speaks of herself in the 3rd person. The criticism is ridiculous and spiteful. Anger is a sane emotion, in some situations and not uninteresting on the page. I would be angry too if my ex-husband was stalking me and launching tirades against me, not to mention leaving creepy comments everyplace that publishes or interviews me. What is an outrage is the fact that Ms. Ladin an expert an insincerity, manipulation and obfuscation can cry and howl—transphobia—Here is a phobia, my phobia--I am deeply afraid of people that organize at the drop of hat to go after a person to abuse them—that’s scary No doubt her rank and file will follow suit, always at the ready and continue to abuse Ms. Benevenuto. You can spot their writing, words like transphobic, angry (hetero woman are always fixed with label) biased, shocking, appalling—any language that exaggerates distorts and hates women, that’s them-- anything that portrays women as angry, unreliable, also them, anything that presents with faux and cynical righteous indignation, also them. Oh —never tried to stop Ms., Benivido from telling her story—replace “never” with “always.” So lesson: transphobia is very bad, but trying to destroy your ex wife’s career is good.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kelly Rice

    Sex Changes is not the story of Tracey, a transgendered man who eventually decides to live as his 'true self' but instead is the story of the family he leaves behind. This memoir, written by his wife Christine, chronicles not only Tracey's decision but the impact it had on his wife of twenty years and their children. The marriage gets ugly, the divorce gets worse and, in the end, everyone isn't laughing and getting together for a New Age Normal Rockwell Christmas. Whether she meant to or not, Ch Sex Changes is not the story of Tracey, a transgendered man who eventually decides to live as his 'true self' but instead is the story of the family he leaves behind. This memoir, written by his wife Christine, chronicles not only Tracey's decision but the impact it had on his wife of twenty years and their children. The marriage gets ugly, the divorce gets worse and, in the end, everyone isn't laughing and getting together for a New Age Normal Rockwell Christmas. Whether she meant to or not, Christine writes honestly enough that neither she nor her husband come out looking good. While it's clear that she remains bitter, angry and generally at a low boil of hate, it's hard to fault her for feeling that way. As Tracey ends his life as a man, his rejection of that life and everything that came with it means an automatic rejection of Christine and their children. As Tracey starts his new life she goes through a kind of warped teenage adolescence. This kicks off a whole pattern of behavior that is, in turns, viscous, manipulative and (pardon the phrasing) prickish. He's written in such a way that I started to wonder if he was really transgendered or was maybe had some sort of borderline personality disorder. Or maybe he is just a giant asshole. It could be argued that Christine didn't have the most objective view of her former husband and so it's possibly he isn't really the giant douche lord she makes him out to be. Regardless, Sex Changes does address the fairly complicated issues of being trans and how much what you need to do affects the people you love. While it's admirable that a person can finally be honest enough to do what makes them truly happy, it doesn't necessarily mean that everyone else is going to be okay with it - or that they should be. To be told 'Everything I had with you was a lie and I wish it had never happened' is a bitter pill to swallow. The fact that Christine has no choice but to swallow it since the two have children together makes for a fairly compelling story. A lot of reviewers have complained about the disjointed style, the stutter in the story that did make me wonder a few times how much she actually makes as a professional author. But I like to think that all adds something to the story. The writing isn't polished or overly edited and so it comes across as more casual, more intimate, more ... real. If it were more heavily edited or polished, her vitriol might come across as hysterical. But the way it's written now makes it sound bitter and harsh, but probably not too far from the truth. It's an amazing story and one I found incredibly interesting. Christine's is a voice rarely heard in the conversation about being transgender and it's a story I'd love to read again from the points of view of other husbands and wives who suddenly found themselves losing the person they loved most in this world because, according to them, they never existed in the first place.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    I found this book to be incredibly disrespectful, which was very disappointing. I was looking forward to reading an account from a new perspective, but found instead the author's words to be full of hostility towards her partner. I was discomforted by her choice of pronouns and how she expressed her partner's feelings of being trans as if worthy of ridicule. This was a very disappointing and infuriating book to attempt to read. I found this book to be incredibly disrespectful, which was very disappointing. I was looking forward to reading an account from a new perspective, but found instead the author's words to be full of hostility towards her partner. I was discomforted by her choice of pronouns and how she expressed her partner's feelings of being trans as if worthy of ridicule. This was a very disappointing and infuriating book to attempt to read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    erica

    ugh. quit reading on page 42 when she referred to her post transition husband as 'he.' I get that not all partners are happy with transition, but I don't need to read their negative vitriol about the situation. ugh. quit reading on page 42 when she referred to her post transition husband as 'he.' I get that not all partners are happy with transition, but I don't need to read their negative vitriol about the situation.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Stella Fouts

    Do you think that a woman, who happens to be trapped in a man's body, is the only person with a voice? The only person with rights? The only person who should be supported in all ways? Think again. Especially when a wife and children are part of the picture. Christine Benvenuto writes about the loss - right before her eyes - of the man she loved, married and with whom she had children. Her description of his physical death as a man, as she watches helplessly, is painful for the reader. (Imagine Do you think that a woman, who happens to be trapped in a man's body, is the only person with a voice? The only person with rights? The only person who should be supported in all ways? Think again. Especially when a wife and children are part of the picture. Christine Benvenuto writes about the loss - right before her eyes - of the man she loved, married and with whom she had children. Her description of his physical death as a man, as she watches helplessly, is painful for the reader. (Imagine what it must have been like for Benvenuto and the kids.) Unfortunately, almost everyone in the author's circle of friends and aquaintences refuses to acknowledge, let alone support, the pain and loss that she and her kids are experiencing. Reading Benvenuto's family's version of her husband's transformation from man to "woman" will enable you, or it should, to see that there's a right way and a wrong way to take control of your life and live it the way you must. And Benvenuto's husband chose the wrong way in many instances. To her credit, Benvenuto does not constantly bash her husband. Instead, she shows the reader her husband's actions and then the fallout that occurs from those actions. If for no other reason, you'll want to read this to learn way more than you already know about gender issues.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Blaise Kyrios

    This book hurt to read. I am in that liberal, politically correct crowd that she is so against. However, I want to see the other side of everything. This definitely did that. It was brutal. Seeing the aftermath of a parent switching genders has changed my ideology a bit. Or at least my compassion. I think a lot of the commenters want too much from the author. A grieving woman should not have to worry about pronouns, at least not for a while. She is angry and hurt. Why should Tracey be the only o This book hurt to read. I am in that liberal, politically correct crowd that she is so against. However, I want to see the other side of everything. This definitely did that. It was brutal. Seeing the aftermath of a parent switching genders has changed my ideology a bit. Or at least my compassion. I think a lot of the commenters want too much from the author. A grieving woman should not have to worry about pronouns, at least not for a while. She is angry and hurt. Why should Tracey be the only one to be sympathized with? A little empathy goes a long way.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Connie

    Without being terribly maudlin, Christine describes what many forget about transgenderism: how it effects those who think they know--and love very deeply--the person who decides to transition. She describes her grief at losing the husband and father she loves as she witnesses the more-than-physical changes that occur as he embraces his "true" self. He is at times highly narcissistic, selfish, and manipulative, traits she would never have ascribed to the man she knew. (She doesn't believe that th Without being terribly maudlin, Christine describes what many forget about transgenderism: how it effects those who think they know--and love very deeply--the person who decides to transition. She describes her grief at losing the husband and father she loves as she witnesses the more-than-physical changes that occur as he embraces his "true" self. He is at times highly narcissistic, selfish, and manipulative, traits she would never have ascribed to the man she knew. (She doesn't believe that these changes in personality are due to transitioning per se, but rather describes them to elucidate her personal experience of losing the husband she once considered her best friend.) Belonging to a close Jewish community in a small town, Christine expects some support as a "trans widow," but the "Valley of the Politically Correct" in which they'd lived as a family seems more interested in celebrating her husband's transition than in a single mother and her three children. At best she finds herself an object of pity, but many believe she'd knowingly married a transgendered male and that she should be delighted by her husband's transition. Some even expect her to remain married and to live with their children in the same home as him, regardless of his behaviour. While judging Christine, they seem to give her husband carte blanche when it comes to his behaviour. As a supporter and friend of transgendered individuals, I was shocked by how little I knew about the grief and lack of support their children and spouses must often endure. The "politically correct," so eager to celebrate the courage and new life of the person transitioning, need to acknowledge this when spouses and children are involved. Christine does find new, supportive friends, but in order to do so she has to break out of the shell in which she's lived her entire life.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christie Alicea

    Where to start? I feel sad for Christine, but only because I think she is a vindictive, selfish, self-absorbed person. Now I can only know her from the pages of this book, so I may be off in my assessment. But this is what I got from her. I myself have experienced a "loss" due to a friend coming out as transgender. It was not a spouse, but a best friend, and the loss was felt nonetheless. The stages Christine describes - denial, anger, then grief, are all understandable and natural. But she seems Where to start? I feel sad for Christine, but only because I think she is a vindictive, selfish, self-absorbed person. Now I can only know her from the pages of this book, so I may be off in my assessment. But this is what I got from her. I myself have experienced a "loss" due to a friend coming out as transgender. It was not a spouse, but a best friend, and the loss was felt nonetheless. The stages Christine describes - denial, anger, then grief, are all understandable and natural. But she seems to miss the ultimate stage - acceptance, tolerance, and love. When my friend Andrea first told us that she was transgender, I was so mad I saw red. I didn't understand, I felt lied to, I thought it was a stage. I cried for weeks. I told myself that Andrea would never be anything other than Andrea, a female, and too bad if she wanted it any other way. When Andrea said she wanted to be known as Andrew, I cried for the loss of Andrea, because in a very real way, she died. Through a lot of soul searching, I began to veer away from my denial and anger, and instead began to learn about the process, and try to accept Andrew. Andrew is a different person than Andrea, sure, but also a lot of the same. Gradually, using male pronouns came easily, and now I don't even miss the female I knew back then. Yes, it is a CHOICE to love and accept and embrace a loved one who comes out as transgender. But it is also a CHOICE to not love, to shun, to shut out, and shame them as well. Yes, it CAN be hard to choose love. I find it ironic that the last chapter of this book is all about what Christine thinks God is asking of her. GOD WANTS YOU TO LOVE EVERYONE. Even when it is hard. She says, "I should have stopped loving Tracey when he made his intentions clear" - this is the furthest you can be from God, in my opinion. It is sad that she felt this way, and it is sad that their children had to watch their mother stop loving her spouse because of something Tracey had NO CONTROL OF. Transgender is a biological situation that is not a choice. What message did Christine give her children by ceasing to love Tracey? I am NOT saying she should have stayed with Tracey; but to stop loving someone completely because they are transgender? How utterly sad. And to stop loving them the minute they come out to you, without challenging your own preconceived notions and your own boundaries, but to just cut them off? How utterly sad. She says that she forgives Tracey, but I don't feel it in her words, since she still hangs Tracey out to dry. She never refers to Tracey as a female, which I find completely disrespectful and tactless - it's not Christine's place to decide if Tracey is a female or not, since gender is separate from sex, and just because Christine doesn't understand or want to accept Tracey's life as a woman doesn't make Tracey NOT a female. I, then, will refer to Tracey with female pronouns from here on out - How did Christine think this book would make Tracey feel? Christine ripped her apart, made her look awful, and, as I mention, continues to use male pronouns. If Tracey felt so sick living as a man before, how does Christine think she will react to this book? Does she even care that it might destroy her mentally? I think this book was selfishly (not to mention poorly) written, with no intention other than to make Christine look perfect and to allow her to be a martyr. I feel bad for her children, who will grow up thinking that being transgender is something to be ashamed of and something to be shied away from. I can't help but believe if Christine had gone about this differently, the outcome for her, her children and Tracey would have been MUCH different.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Renee

    A good read. An insightful look into how one family is destroyed by the husband's desire to become a woman. A good read. An insightful look into how one family is destroyed by the husband's desire to become a woman.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    This is one woman's story of a section of her life during which her husband of 20 years decided to live as a woman. It also includes her ensuing affair with another man. What struck me most about Christine Benvenuto's experience were two things she repeatedly emphasized: the complete character change that accompanied her husband Tracey's gender bending, and the seemingly unanimous unconditional support the community offered to Tracey. Tracey didn't only decide he felt like a woman and wanted to ma This is one woman's story of a section of her life during which her husband of 20 years decided to live as a woman. It also includes her ensuing affair with another man. What struck me most about Christine Benvenuto's experience were two things she repeatedly emphasized: the complete character change that accompanied her husband Tracey's gender bending, and the seemingly unanimous unconditional support the community offered to Tracey. Tracey didn't only decide he felt like a woman and wanted to make the outside match the inside (his terms); he also became selfish, manipulative, controlling, and bullying. He essentially discounted the past 20 years of what seemed like a happy marriage and demanded Christine to admit that none of it was real. He neglected his responsibilities to their three children and tried to create inappropriate peer-type bonds with the two girls. This makes the second point even harder to swallow, the fact that in the name of political correctness, the neighbors and friends and fellow Jewish congregants basically told Christine that whatever Tracey was doing was okay because it was what he needed to do. By refusing to allow for the possibility that the way Tracey was moving forward in a new gender was selfish and destructive, the community failed to support Christine. But. Benvenuto is not faultless in this memoir, though she writes it as though she was. The love she finds after the dissolution of her marriage is a primarily sexual relationship (at least initially) with a married man. In what feels like weak justification, she describes his marriage as one of convenience; but she never delves into the question of whether she is doing to this man's wife the same thing Tracey did to her: destroying her happy life. I'm interested in the question of how spouses are affected by gender changes. Benvenuto highlights what I would think are common issues that arise for the spouse being left behind. But I want her to have written this memoir maybe ten years down the road, when she's gained a little more hindsight and doesn't feel the need to prove her worth as a woman (which is what it seemed like she was trying to do) by describing her later hyper-sexual encounters with a decidedly non-effeminate man. Although she has plenty of legitimate whine fodder, the often whiny tone chips away at the empathy the reader naturally wants to feel for her.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Feisty Harriet

    The author is entitled to her feels, but the author is also a raging, self-centered, contradictory, transphobic asshole. So.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jamie (Books and Ladders)

    DNF @ 39% Look, you can be angry. I do not want to invalidate anyone's feelings. But you cannot be angry BECAUSE your significant other feels the need to have a sex change. This is another one of those books where you have One Version, Another Version, and then The Truth. And I did not enjoy this version, I would have rather heard the truth. DNF @ 39% Look, you can be angry. I do not want to invalidate anyone's feelings. But you cannot be angry BECAUSE your significant other feels the need to have a sex change. This is another one of those books where you have One Version, Another Version, and then The Truth. And I did not enjoy this version, I would have rather heard the truth.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    Refreshingly honest, a brilliant and compelling book.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Catherine

    Having read Joy Ladin's Through the Door of Life it felt only fair to read her ex-wife's book, Sex Changes. The book both absorbed me and repelled me: absorbed because of the very real grief and tumult that Ladin's wife and children weathered in the aftermath of her deciding to transition; repelled because of the streak of plain nastiness that runs through the text, bordering on outright transphobia. There is no doubt that Benvenuto's life was turned upside down by Ladin's decision, and she exper Having read Joy Ladin's Through the Door of Life it felt only fair to read her ex-wife's book, Sex Changes. The book both absorbed me and repelled me: absorbed because of the very real grief and tumult that Ladin's wife and children weathered in the aftermath of her deciding to transition; repelled because of the streak of plain nastiness that runs through the text, bordering on outright transphobia. There is no doubt that Benvenuto's life was turned upside down by Ladin's decision, and she experienced massive grief and bewildering loss. That she struggled is not a mark against her; that she needed empathetic listeners who did not materialize in expected places is deeply sad. That she found other counsel and friendship, and loved again, is wonderful. That her husband behaved like a complete asshole on lots of occasions is beyond doubt. She deserves space to tell that story and represent her own authentic self. Yet for all that Benvenuto insists that she doesn't have problems with transgender people in general, only with her ex-husband, her words bely her statement. She repeatedly denigrates her ex-husband's appearance, and that of other transwomen; she charges her ex-husband with playing dress-up like a child; she describes her ex-husband's now altered voice as a whine. She refuses to call her ex-husband 'she'; she refuses to acknowledge that her husband is a woman; she objects to the term 'gender reassignment' because she says it reduces gender to something akin to receiving a Social Security card at a certain age, and 'voluntary prick removal' would be more accurate. She posits that perhaps there are more transgender individuals in the United States these days because of the estrogen in the water supply (conveniently ignoring those individuals who are female-to-male in the process); she compares coming out as transgender to a white person telling an African American person they want to be black. These are only a handful of the ways in which she outs herself as in opposition to the idea that someone can exist in the wrong body for who they are. Benvenuto repeatedly talks, in her book, of the feminist and liberal friends who abandoned her when her ex-husband came out, who supported him without question and left her in the cold. There's no excuse for that - no reason why it's not possible to support someone's transition and spare compassion for those whose lives are also interrupted by the process. But Benvenuto asks more than this of her readers - she asks that they reject transgenderhood altogether. And that isn't reasonable, or right, to do.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Ira Therebel

    Was happy to read a book from this perspective. We always hear about those trans heroes who decide to live their lives and I wanted to read from the person whose life was crushed without it being her choice. Honestly I don't know how much I would be interested in the book if the former husband wasn't trans. Reading about divorces isn't fun. She sure is mad at him. Not that I blame her. Aside of the whole trans thing he seemed to be an absolutely selfish douche who would be the same if he remained Was happy to read a book from this perspective. We always hear about those trans heroes who decide to live their lives and I wanted to read from the person whose life was crushed without it being her choice. Honestly I don't know how much I would be interested in the book if the former husband wasn't trans. Reading about divorces isn't fun. She sure is mad at him. Not that I blame her. Aside of the whole trans thing he seemed to be an absolutely selfish douche who would be the same if he remained a man. But it was interesting to hear her dealing with all of the extra issues his transition brought to her and her kids. Including how most were right away supportive to him and she was left aside. She should feel like, these days she would not just be ignored but attacked and bullied. I give it a 4 because of so many 1s by the politically correct crowd upset that she is not that happy with that trans hero who left her. She deserves a 4 for being this way.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kerry Kilburn

    I have complex reactions to this complex book. It is a difficult read, not because it is poorly written (although it is poorly structured in some ways and could have used a stronger editorial hand), but because it is, as many other reviewers have noted, so brutally honest. Which means that we feel the depth of the pain and grief Benvenuto experienced as her husband of 20 years admitted his/her gender dysphoria and decided to transition, not only ending their marriage and destroying their family, I have complex reactions to this complex book. It is a difficult read, not because it is poorly written (although it is poorly structured in some ways and could have used a stronger editorial hand), but because it is, as many other reviewers have noted, so brutally honest. Which means that we feel the depth of the pain and grief Benvenuto experienced as her husband of 20 years admitted his/her gender dysphoria and decided to transition, not only ending their marriage and destroying their family, but isolating Benvenuto from both her secular and faith communities as sides were chosen in what became a protracted legal and personal battle. We also feel her deep revulsion about "Tracey's" (the pseudonym she uses for Joy Ladin) transition process and the viciousness of her very specific and particular transphobia. We feel the fear of a woman who, without family or economic resources to draw upon, faces the potential loss of her home and children in the nastiest of legal proceedings. And we feel the joy of new life, a better life, unfolding on the other side. So there's that. But here's the thing. Writing about the second year of their divorce process, Benvenuto writes ". . . divorce is ghastly. Staggeringly, unspeakably bad. . . inthe sense that no words can quite encompass the dreadfulness." Benvenuto and Ladin had a very, very bad divorce (I know - I've had two, and neither one came anywhere close to what she describes). Not because of Ladin's transition, but because both partners behaved badly. In Benvenuto's memoir, we get her view of Ladin's bad behavior, but we also see Benvenuto's own viciousness in response. And it's just ugly, and sad. I picked up this book because I wanted to understand trans relationships from the other side. Clearly the dissolution of a 20-year marriage - one that includes 3 children - can't be all honey and roses for the heterosexual partner left behind. Part of the tale Benvenuto tells - of a community forgiving everything of the trans partner in the name of supporting a transition - I can believe and decry and learn from. And the part of the tale she may or may not mean to tell - of her own very specific and vicious transphobia - is just painful to experience. But also educational in its own way. And not to be mean or anything, but can I just add this - if you're going to criticize your ex-husband for violating boundaries by wearing feminine clothes in front of his children while he transitions, perhaps you should think about your own behavior when you bring your married lover into your children's family and spiritual lives? Just a thought . . .

  17. 4 out of 5

    Heather Medd

    Ms. Benvenuto as she states is not from the land of political correctness, she may be from the land of transphobic. The reason I didn't give this book one star is because it is an intresting story. You really do began to feel her sadness as she begins to see the changes in the man she married as he begins to make the transformation from he to she. The story drags on as it starts to become a li ttle to much poor me. She really drives home the point of all the pain and emotional damage her husband Ms. Benvenuto as she states is not from the land of political correctness, she may be from the land of transphobic. The reason I didn't give this book one star is because it is an intresting story. You really do began to feel her sadness as she begins to see the changes in the man she married as he begins to make the transformation from he to she. The story drags on as it starts to become a li ttle to much poor me. She really drives home the point of all the pain and emotional damage her husband caused their children. How him not wanting to keep it a secret ruined their children. Then she goes and writes a book about it. It really made me wonder how much any of this was about protecting her family or if that was just digs at her ex husband. I understand how one may be upset about their live wanting to change genders but she puts transgenders back years with her writing. She seems to want to write transgender off as a political statement or pollutants in the waters. I don't think she believes that someone can actually be born in the wrong body. One statement really took me back. She refers to a man with a ponytail as having a man ponytail. Today I didn't wear a woman ponytail I just wore a ponytail. And further more men have been wearing ponytails just as long as women. I think she is very stuck in gender roles and plays the victim.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Sarah Buchanan

    The author repeats herself a lot, and the book could have been about 50 pages shorter, but it's interesting to hear about the trans experience from the other side -- the partners left behind. The author repeats herself a lot, and the book could have been about 50 pages shorter, but it's interesting to hear about the trans experience from the other side -- the partners left behind.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Sometimes I hated this book and all the complaining and defensiveness. Other times I appreciated it as the memoir it was and her ability to write the book she needed to. I don’t have a rating.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sadie Forsythe

    No rating on this one; it's too far outside of my realm of relate-ability to put a score on it. I reminded myself repeatedly throughout reading this that this is not the story of her husband's transition. It is instead the story of her experience as her husband transitions. And as she is a devout Jew for whom unnecessary body modifications are discouraged (possibly sinful), from a time when gender was black and white and has no same sex leanings, her husbands sudden choice, after 20 years of mar No rating on this one; it's too far outside of my realm of relate-ability to put a score on it. I reminded myself repeatedly throughout reading this that this is not the story of her husband's transition. It is instead the story of her experience as her husband transitions. And as she is a devout Jew for whom unnecessary body modifications are discouraged (possibly sinful), from a time when gender was black and white and has no same sex leanings, her husbands sudden choice, after 20 years of marriage and 3 children, was devastating and something she couldn't accept. Looking at some of the other reviews, I think this distinction between her husband's transition and her experience as something separate has been lost on a lot of readers. In fact, this is one of the author's main points, that everyone expected her to be willing and able to drop her own identity as a devoutly Jewish, heterosexual, sexual (as her husband wished their marriage to continue as platonic) wife and woman and accept her husband's status as female. She was widely condemned for not doing so and felt very hurt by this. While much of the book I struggled with, this struck a cord with me, the idea that she was suddenly expected to happily become a lesbian overnight. That, in the same breath, people would denounce her for not accepting Tracey's chosen identity while denying her the right to maintain he own chosen one. It's a quandary for sure. Having said that, not being religious, growing up in a time when gender wasn't so codified and the culmination of my own life experiences, I do not come from a place where I can truly understand her complete inability to accept Tracey's change. Her anger over unexpectedly having what she saw as a stable and loving marriage implode over something she had no control over, couldn't stop or accept, sure I get that. And certainly her husband, as described, feels like a raging, narcissistic A-hole. But most of that was outside the transition. He just seemed selfish and self-absorbed. But I'm left wondering to what degree can you take a description written by an injured second party at face value. I found this hard to read, again, because I really couldn't relate to her unbending position and a lot of her narrative goes against the current dogma of acceptance of differences and encouragement of self-identification. She refuses, for example to use the feminine pronoun when discussing her husband, even post transition and that felt disrespectful and spiteful. Often Benvenuto comes across as less than angelic too, especially at these times. Her anger leaks through. But I'm not willing to dismiss the importance of her experiences. Unfortunately, it's a fact that a spouse is sometimes left behind by transition and it's a painful experience for them and as Benvenuto says, the family is often forgotten as people rush to congratulate the transgendered individual on finding themselves. For better or worse, these experiences are hers and I'm not going to pass judgement on them. The book was an interesting 'other side of the coin' read for me.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Linsey Albee

    I wanted to like this book. However, the way Benvenuto talked about her ex-spouse was inappropriate and un-sympathetic. Were her and her children’s lives drastically changed because her spouse of 20 plus years realized that a transition from male to female was necessary to maintain happiness? Yes. Like was said, the choice was suicide or becoming a woman. I fully understand the pain and later toxicity that Benvenuto’s spouse inflicted upon the rest of the family. At the same time, this book was I wanted to like this book. However, the way Benvenuto talked about her ex-spouse was inappropriate and un-sympathetic. Were her and her children’s lives drastically changed because her spouse of 20 plus years realized that a transition from male to female was necessary to maintain happiness? Yes. Like was said, the choice was suicide or becoming a woman. I fully understand the pain and later toxicity that Benvenuto’s spouse inflicted upon the rest of the family. At the same time, this book was written out of pure rage. Using “he/him” pronouns for her ex-spouse throughout the book and saying that the transition to female was “a choice” that was intended to cause harm were completely uncalled for. I would have appreciated this book more if Benvenuto provided more respect to her ex-spouse. I really was looking forward to learning from Benvenuto’s perspective and experience, but I couldn’t get past the disrespect and transphobia. On another note, Benvenuto attempts to maintain privacy by using a fake name for her ex-spouse—Tracey (something that is completely understandable). Through a quick Google search, however, I found that Tracey’s name is Joy Ladin and she wrote a book about her experience that came out a few months before Benvenuto’s book—Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders. I’m looking forward to reading this book to get a more complete look at the story.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Marti Dahlquist

    When I started the book I had no idea whose perspective it was from. I hadn't read anything beyond the title and assumed it was another memoir of the journey to gender reassignment. Not at all. This is an extremely bitter wife writing an angry tell all. Her pain is justified, but her actions are not. I felt torn as I read because I wanted to embrace her anguish, but she was completely off putting. I found myself questioning if it were possible that every single person in her story was as villaino When I started the book I had no idea whose perspective it was from. I hadn't read anything beyond the title and assumed it was another memoir of the journey to gender reassignment. Not at all. This is an extremely bitter wife writing an angry tell all. Her pain is justified, but her actions are not. I felt torn as I read because I wanted to embrace her anguish, but she was completely off putting. I found myself questioning if it were possible that every single person in her story was as villainous as she experienced them. A modicum of cooperation could have gone a long way in helping her children adjust. I struggled the entire time I was reading because she really was an innocent in the drama and not wanting to internally force her into a certain reaction. Until. She scathingly describes the transformation process as losing her husband to an affair, with "the other woman" being her husband. She is furious to be in that position, and yet her first relationship after her divorce was with a married man. She gives weak excuses as to why it was justified and how good it was for her and how the heart wants what the heart wants. Fine. I won't judge you for entering into an affair, but I will take issue with the blatant double standard. I'm looking forward to reading the book that Joy Ladin wrote, which is the story told from "Tracey's" perspective.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    Wow, this book was something. The author's marriage ends due to her husband's decision to become the woman he always felt that he was. I can completely get that the author was filled with anger, disappointment, and disgust. I cannot imagine how I would deal with the same. However, I felt that her rage overwhelmed the book. It felt filled with hate. I cringed every time that she referred to the "Valley of the Politically Incorrect" - and I mean literally cringed. Although interesting to read, I f Wow, this book was something. The author's marriage ends due to her husband's decision to become the woman he always felt that he was. I can completely get that the author was filled with anger, disappointment, and disgust. I cannot imagine how I would deal with the same. However, I felt that her rage overwhelmed the book. It felt filled with hate. I cringed every time that she referred to the "Valley of the Politically Incorrect" - and I mean literally cringed. Although interesting to read, I felt a bit relieved when it was over. Her singular focus on herself and how her husband's transformation affected her life (and her children's lives) contained no compassion for her husband. It was distasteful to me. I do appreciate seeing the transgender transformation from the viewpoint of the other people affected (spouses, children, friends)... and for this reason I am giving this book two stars.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Shell

    Type of read: Commuter read. What made me pick it up: Seen on one of my recommended lists. Overall rating: I liked the idea behind 'Sex Changes', an individual sharing their journey through their partner's transition; however, that’s the end of what I can say I liked about this book. And to be honest, that wasn’t the book itself, rather just the description used to get people to open the book. I did not finish Sex Changes because I found the language, tone, and writing to be disrespectful an Type of read: Commuter read. What made me pick it up: Seen on one of my recommended lists. Overall rating: I liked the idea behind 'Sex Changes', an individual sharing their journey through their partner's transition; however, that’s the end of what I can say I liked about this book. And to be honest, that wasn’t the book itself, rather just the description used to get people to open the book. I did not finish Sex Changes because I found the language, tone, and writing to be disrespectful and demeaning. I don’t expect a life event like the transition of your partner to be easy to live through or retell but I do expect that we would treat people with the love, dignity, and respect they deserve when being truthful to those who claim to have loved them the most. I will admit, I don’t know the whole story but with how the author spent my first hour reading this book, I choose not to participate in the remainder of their story.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Max

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. She did her best in an extremely challenging situation. It was not at all just about transition, it seems pretty clear that all of the biggest issues have to do with how her ex went about it, including grooming their daughter in a way that was intertwined with transition. It’s cruel and misogynistic to expect someone to go through what amounts to both spousal abuse and incestuous abuse of her daughter and then prioritize the political objectives of the transgender community over communicating ab She did her best in an extremely challenging situation. It was not at all just about transition, it seems pretty clear that all of the biggest issues have to do with how her ex went about it, including grooming their daughter in a way that was intertwined with transition. It’s cruel and misogynistic to expect someone to go through what amounts to both spousal abuse and incestuous abuse of her daughter and then prioritize the political objectives of the transgender community over communicating about what was done to her family.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

    Often disjointed, it is the telling of loss and reawakening, reflecting how the two overlap while also acknowledging that the journey is hardly linear nor that revelations come in moments. A deeply personal story, admitting to how the PC reaction is difficult when it is yourself, and more so your children, living through the changes. Rounded up from 2.5.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tina Miller

    A memoir from a woman with a strong and clear voice. The transgender experience seen from the family and wife's perspective. Honest and angry, the author completes a journey she was given no choice about without villianizing her ex-husband. A memoir from a woman with a strong and clear voice. The transgender experience seen from the family and wife's perspective. Honest and angry, the author completes a journey she was given no choice about without villianizing her ex-husband.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Kitty

    Read it for yourself and think about it. Women telling their truth don’t always use the most politically ideal language. I value how she doesn’t sanitize or excuse herself.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jade

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was an interesting novel. It is the first novel in a long time that I couldn't put down. For the first half of the book I thought the author was not particularly sympathetic, given her glaring transphobia. Towards the middle I understood the anguish of losing a life partner, losing your community, and the pain of watching your children's pain. Truly Tracey's character needs to be brought into question as the choices the Christine claims she makes are reprehensible. However, the frequent ref This was an interesting novel. It is the first novel in a long time that I couldn't put down. For the first half of the book I thought the author was not particularly sympathetic, given her glaring transphobia. Towards the middle I understood the anguish of losing a life partner, losing your community, and the pain of watching your children's pain. Truly Tracey's character needs to be brought into question as the choices the Christine claims she makes are reprehensible. However, the frequent reference to "the valley of the politically correct" and questions about feminists supporting Tracey was frustrating. If your feminism isn't intersectional, it isn't feminism. The unfair remarks on Tracey's post transition appearance and refusal to use the correct pronouns is not just "un-pc" they are clearly transphobic. The irony of her then starting an affair with a married man and allowing this partner to form relationships with her children while faulting Tracey for her poor parenting was laughable. This being said, the book continued to draw me in. It's a story that deserves to be told. There is immense loss in transition. You can tell from the ex-husband's comments here and elsewhere that much of his anger and selfishness through transitioning is quite likely true. Worth the read just to examine your own thoughts on transgender issues, political correctness, and family.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Frieda Vizel

    2.5 stars This story is from an often unheard voice, that of the wife of someone who changes gender; a someone who after 20 years of being a bearded man metamorphoses into a white-sandaled woman. It's an important story to tell at a time our society places so much value on individuality, self actualization, becoming-who-you-need-to-be-at-all-cost. We are often too quick to cheer on a "hero" who radically changes his/her life in pursuit of themselves without thinking of the implications these acti 2.5 stars This story is from an often unheard voice, that of the wife of someone who changes gender; a someone who after 20 years of being a bearded man metamorphoses into a white-sandaled woman. It's an important story to tell at a time our society places so much value on individuality, self actualization, becoming-who-you-need-to-be-at-all-cost. We are often too quick to cheer on a "hero" who radically changes his/her life in pursuit of themselves without thinking of the implications these actions have on others. We support transgendered people by default; without evaluating them on the merit of their personality, only on the merit of their gender change. Some of this is political correctness. Some of it is true admiration and the general attitude that all the sacrifices and casualties only give us more reason to call the person brave. To a degree, that is true; it takes admirable strength to confront societal judgement, physical and emotional pain and scandal and still do what we believe is right. But sometimes we don't evaluate how these "heroic" feats affect everyone else - the wife and children especially. Stepping on others in pursuit of self actualization is never heroic. The line of admirable self-expression and selfishness is a thin and muddy one, and in this one, it seems the line was often crossed. This one is an ugly, messy story with a supposedly happy ending for the author and her ex on their diverging journeys. We can understand Benvenuto's reluctance to embrace her husband's transition - at least in the beginning. Then it gets to a lot of griping, denial, kicking and screaming, me vs him. She often had my sympathy, especially when "open minded" outsiders were so quick to support the husband they could not understand her. But not always. She sometimes seemed very close minded, stuck in her ways, hellbent on proving her right to the reader/jury. It is very painful to read that the children were caught in the middle; with Benvenuto refusing to introduce female pronouns for their trans father; insisting that "daddy" remain "daddy", even when it was clear to everyone that "daddy" was a girl. Benvenuto seems to believe she has good reason, but the truth is she is making the children choose to reject the new female dad "Tracy" because she herself is in so much pain and fury. It comes as no surprise that the children suffered; they were caught up in - what Benvenuto herself calls "conflicting loyalties". Children should never be placed in this position of conflicting loyalties and it is impossible not to judge her (and "Tracy") for having placed the children in this terrible place. The writing, meh, not very well written. It has some moments but mostly reads like a diary. A lot of her personal thoughts, apologetics, explanations, metaphors, bla bla. You've gotten into her diary or therapy session. Sometimes I wondered why I'm supposed to care. In all -- the redeeming part for Benvenuto, and the irony, is that while she seemed to have gone through the challenges life threw her with much less than grace, she seemed to have changed in one particular way during this journey: she blossomed into womanhood. Her own husband's journey into womanhood inadvertently made her reach out to her female friends, reach into her "girl power" and reach out for sisterhood, taught her to open up and share with other women instead of shutting into a Stepford facade. That kind of growth was nice.

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