Monday, May 27, 2019

Katherine’s Diary: The Story of a Transsexual by Katherine Cummings

I'm an avid reader of first-person accounts by transgender individuals. I find that there is something quite fascinating, compelling, and inspiring observing the struggles and eventual resolution of individuals as they grapple with the expression of their true selves. Katherine's Diary: The Story of a Transsexual is a marvelous and well-written example of such a book. This short review will not do justice to the quality of this work, an outstanding memoir, replete with wonderful photos taken over the course of the author's lifetime. Katherine Cummings is a talented writer, a wonderful story teller, a humorist, and, in her former occupation, an innovative creator of cutting-edge library techniques and procedures. In terms of the later, and parenthetically, Cummings relates that years ago she designed many library systems that are still utilized today.

As outlined in the vignettes Cummings relates, her transition to a female role was quite a series of adventures - many humorous while some others rather sad. In this updated and re-released version of a book that originally came out in 1990, the author has now arrived at her golden years and looks back somewhat nostalgically at past relationships and at those people who influenced her journey, many of whom have since died. Gender transitions generally are the coup de gras for marital couples, and the author's union was no exception. Sadly though, her gender struggle so intensely angered her ex-wife that she expressed her ire at Cummings by having their lengthy marriage that produced three daughters completely annulled.

The author, who through a circuitous journey came to reside in Australia, is a genuine transgender pioneer. Although she, in her modesty, might deny this fact, having transitioned at a time when doing so was not nearly as common as today. But, by being as involved in the burgeoning transgender movement as she was through her writings and activism, I would say she definitely was a driving force.  Katherine's Diary: The Story of a Transsexual is a very worthwhile read.

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