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Gender Frontier, The Hardcover – 3 Dec 2009
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Top customer reviews
This really is a beautiful book: a thoughtfully assembled collection of photographs from the lens of photographic artist Marietta Pathy Allen. Brief annotations explain the context of the images and there is additional narrative content from four leading voices in the transgender movement. It is a moving book to read - this is a book to engage with at an emotional level rather than an intellectual as the artist invites us to engage with the image, to move beyond the simplistic questioning of chromosomal sex and to explore within ourselves our relationship to the representation of gender; to our own identity even.
The book was produced in 2003 - an exciting time for transgender as it heralded a new era. An emerging generation of gender questioning individuals were starting to resist the medico-legal constraints of formal 'transsexualism', breaking the gender-binary and engaging in new ways of expressing gender, finding more diverse ways of communicating the inner self to finally live a more congruent life. In the subsequent years even greater diversity is becoming possible and I think part of my love of this book is my admiration for the people featured, courageous individuals who were there right at the beginning of a movement that makes it possible for those of us that follow to take the torch forward.
In the preface to the book, the author asks, "what changes and what remains the same when someone changes gender" - it's a reflexive point, more rhetorical in nature. The subsequent content illustrates that gender should never be constrained by the perception of genital arrangement - as a fabulous quote towards the end of the book illustrates, "Although it has been 17 years since Max transitioned, he has not had surgery.... I'm a man with my clothes on, and without my clothes. And that is what I project" p155.
The book really is a work of art, and although curiously the narrative content is written in both English and German (so written content is duplicated) for me that seemed to add to its aesthetic appeal.
This book offers the reader an experience, a journey of exploration. The reader who allows themselves to fully engage with that experience will come away enriched, undoubtedly with a greater appreciation of the diversity encompassed by a spectrum of transgender identities, having learned that more is possible in terms of 'doing transgender' than many would imagine. Buy the book, enjoy the book, be inspired by these individuals.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Her photos fill the pages of this beautiful book, along with thought-provoking essays, poems, personal stories and essays of advocacy against violence and intolerance toward persons of TG experience by well respected spokespersons including the "Transgender Menace" founder, Riki Wilchins, Jamison Green and Allen herself. If you want to take an insider's walk into Transgenderism, this book will expand your mind and open your spirit."
As a sexologist, gender coach, and gender ID advocate, I can speak to the power of Mariette Pathy Allen's contributions ---they are honestly life altering. She can spin the right words and capture the essence of personhood like no one else. If you want to gain insight about the world of TG, this book is it. I love it. I love her. I[...].to learn more about this important contribution. She and her amazing photographic works are the essence of personal empowerment. Don't miss this book.
The story that Mariette tells us of the transgendered person who had her throat slit while a group of New York cab drivers stood by and laughed is not fiction. Nor is the story of Robert Eads, a female-to-male transsexual whose transition surgeon told him that a hysterectomy was unnecessary for his change to a man. When Robert contracted ovarian cancer, he was faced with the life-shattering irony that all that was left of his previous existence as a woman was killing him as a man. In a brazen mockery of the Hippocratic Oath, 20 doctors and three hospitals refused to treat him. When he finally found a doctor willing to treat him the cancer had progressed too far to be arrested. The doctors, it seems, were afraid that having "that kind of person" in their waiting rooms would scare away business.
Mariette is both a photographer whose work ranks as genuine, lasting art and a writer whose personal and intimate style, free of all the gender jargon, describes for us the daily lives of transgendered people with their families, their children, their hopes, their fears, their dreams, their aspirations and their vocations in life. Through her words and through the lens of her camera we see them as real people dealing with the exigencies of life just like the rest of us and not as the sordid, commercialized, pornographic freaks we all too often meet on the Internet and in the pages of XXXX magazines.
For this reason Mariette Pathy Allen will take her rightful place in the history of art, and of human liberation, as the original pioneer who brought the human universe of transgendered people to light and as an activist artist whose unflinching dedication to the truth has brought relief, happiness, dignity, self-esteem and psychological self-acceptance to thousands of transgendered persons.
Among professional photographers Mariette is the only one I know of who has dared to document and defend and demonstrate the inherent human beauty of a group of people that to date has been shamefully shunned and hysterically persecuted by society at large. She is not only a superb photographer and an engaging writer, she is also a woman who has been brave enough to go in harm's way for the sake of understanding, tolerance, acceptance and a more truly diverse and human society.
"The Gender Frontier" is a truly beautiful, inspirational book in every sense of those words. It is a "keeper" that everyone should have in their library. Please go buy it. Then feel yourself challenged and transformed as you proceed from one page to the next, from one story to the next. And when you arrive at the end you will have come to realize that we human beings are far more fascinating and complex and mysterious and wonderful then we thought we were when we unthinkingly imprisoned our own minds in the claustrophobic confines of the traditional binary concept of gender.
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