Novelist Jonathan Ames explores sex changes as the editor of Sexual Metamorphosis, gathering pieces from photographer Loren Cameron, former Bond girl Caroline Cossey, and professor Jenny Finley Boylan.
How do the more recent memoirs differ from the older ones? It was almost a family tree: The earlier books were groundbreaking and left a legacy for the later authors.
What surprised you the most? Transsexuality is a real condition and there are symptoms all these people shared. I was moved by their courage, the scorn they had to face, including rejection, ridicule, physical pain. They had to see this through.
As someone who is not transsexual, but has been attracted to transsexuals, how did this affect your reading of the memoirs? I’m not attracted to transsexuals per se. In my distant past, as I was sorting out a variety of Freudian issues, I was attracted to pre-op transsexual prostitutes. I found them to be beautiful in this otherworldly way. I liked watching them in their clubs—it was theater, it was criminal, it was underground. To me, they were mythical, and being around them was my escape into a world of risk and eros and beauty and tragedy. My old attraction didn’t affect my readings of the memoirs. What the authors in this anthology described was a separate issue from what I had experienced in the demimonde of early-1990s Times Square.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on March 29, 2005