“Trans: A Memoir,” by Juliet Jacques, is a timely book.
In today’s world where gender identity, gender politics, and transgender rights are in the forefront of many national media stories, this memoir of a person’s experience in making the full change between genders provides us with a frank and candid personal view of what it is like to be transgender (or “mahu” as it has been referred to in the Hawaiian culture).
While nearly all of us know not what it is like to be transgender, since they are a slim minority of the population, “Trans: A Memoir” is a really great way, regardless of whatever one feels or thinks they know about the transgender experience, to become informed in the first-person perspective — the human perspective.
The book is certainly bold, honest, and nothing held back from the daily experiences of Juliet. With the things she follows with great interest, such as music and sports, we learn of how a person can be viewed or treated when our inherently traditional expectations fail us, and “Trans” does a great job in conveying those feelings. As the transition of her gender reassignment surgery goes through its phases, culminating in the final transformation, the internal mental and emotional roller-coaster that she experiences until settled with her new self is both fascinating, challenging, and touching — an experience most probably could not or would not bear to undergo.
“Trans,” for being a book about a complex subject of experience, reads very easily, almost conversationally. We found, as we went through the book, the universality of being human is what comes to the fore in how the author tells this part of their life’s story.
“Trans” is a memoir that gives us new insight into people in our community who are truly, inside, just like anyone else.
Ed and Cynthia Justus are owners of The Bookstore in Hanapepe.