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Posts Tagged ‘JJ Gufreda’

Drywall, Dudes and Dames: My Review of the New Book, Left Hander in London

Wednesday, December 28th, 2011

First thought off the top of my head around the new book, Left Hander in London: wow.  Where to begin?

Second thought: as a single woman of the Midwest who statistically and technically is more likely to be shot by a terrorist than find a mate, I definitely can relate to JJ’s tough battle, albeit a very different reason and rejection by society.  (JJ is and has been married for over 30 years. I am still a mutant to some, being an awesome woman who doesn’t have a significant other…)  JJ also compares her struggle to that of being left handed in the past (is that an analogy, or an allegory?)  I digress…

Third thought: anyone who is curious about the life of a transgender should read this book.

I met JJ through a mutual friend, and I blogged about my meeting with her here before, but she’s the first transgender woman I’ve ever met.  She was kind enough to share a copy of her book with me (and in the interest of full disclosure, I received a full electronic copy of her book for review).  In reading her book, I have a new-found admiration for her and her 50-year struggle to finally become her freest, most true self.

JJ wrote this book in order to help others understand the journey of a transgender (in her case, from male to female)–and it is definitely not an easy road.  She candidly discusses her 50 year anxiety around becoming her best self, her plan for coming out to her circles (family, friends, co-workers, and others), her religion (Catholicism) and the lack of tolerance by some in religion to her change.

She also compares the struggles of her change and the controversy surrounding it to that of other tough subjects, like abortion, and even gender discrimination.  She, being uniquely positioned to view the world both as a man and a woman has some interesting and curious insights about how the other gender views us, and vice versa as well in the book (I’ll let you read the book and discover the drywall story for yourself).

But through her struggle, and getting past the controversy of being a transgender in Indiana, (which…eh hem…we all know Indiana is not exactly super open to change and trying new ideas on…) there’s a much bigger message in this book that I discovered, and we all need to ponder, which is one of: tolerance, acceptance, and unconditional love.  Even JJ discovers that she herself struggles with tolerance in her life, before and after her own transition:

“God created everything and everyone.  We are all made out of the same stuff.  He made some black, some white, some Asian, some straight, some gay, some transgender, some asexual.  Some are Muslims, some are Jews, some are Buddhists, some are Hindus, some don’t have an organized religion, some are Christians, etc. Rather than picking out the people or groups that I think God has judged or will judge negatively, I prefer to accept people as they are and love unconditionally.  I am not saying I am good at it, but I’m trying.” (page 126)

I think we ALL could use a hefty dose of more tolerance and acceptance of each other in this day and age, myself included.  I, too, am trying, just like JJ (and I’m not saying I’m good at it, either).  Whether it is a man explaining to a woman how to hang drywall, a church or mosque accepting all, not just some, who want to worship there, or a transgender coming out and becoming who they feel they are in order to match the inside with the outside.  I think that is the biggest and strongest message I received from the gift of reading JJ’s book.  And I hope you might consider reading it too–because our society could use more tolerance, acceptance and unconditional love, just as JJ discovered on her own journey.

We’re not good at that, but we should definitely try.