A look at what a father's cross dressing does to his family. Sad and pensive, and sometime humorous.
Noelle Howey writes with a wry, witty voice but manages to sidestep any notion of self-pity. She is honest in her portrayals of her parents, her grandparents, and especially herself. Going through adolescence, when one's parents are horribly embarrassing, is difficult for everyone; Noelle had another layer of embarrassment added. But the fact that her father was finally opening up and reaching out to her turned her into one of his staunchest allies. The inside cover is full of family photographs; the one of Noelle at about age 2 or 3, sittin on her father's lap just haunts me. The body language there says it all. I really enjoyed this memoir, and applaud Noelle and her parents for sharing their story.
What would you do if your father told you that he had always wanted to be female? This is a memoir/biography of three people--the author; her cold, distant, hyper-macho father who eventually takes the name Rebecca Christine; and her nurturing, grown-up-tomboy mother. Sometimes sad but mostly sharp and funny.
One of the best memoirs I've read. Provides a lot of insight into the life of a cross-dresser and how one person's behavior can affect an entire family and change lives forever.
Throughout her childhood in suburban Ohio, Noelle struggled to gain love and affection from her distant father. In compensating for her father's brusqueness, Noelle idolized her nurturing tomboy mother and her conservative grandma, who tried to turn her into 'a little lady.' At age fourteen, Noelle's mom told her the family secret. "Dad likes to wear women's clothes." As Noelle copes with a turbulent adolescence, confused by her male and female role models, her father begins to metamorphose into the loving parent she had always longed for - only now outfitted in pedal pushers and pink lipstick. Here is a profundly affecting account of her father's long road to self-relization and a meditation on what it mans to be female.
A good, rather too long read about the fascinating world of gender dysphoria and transsexualism.
Phenomenal. Searingly real and brilliantly told.
Very interesting memoir - and surprisingly accessible.
If the only time you think you've seen a transsexual is on the Jerry Springer show, Noelle Howey's thoughtful, funny memoir of her suburban childhood with a cross-dressing dad may leave you wondering where all the fireworks are. The first half of Dress Codes is like anyone's story of parental neglect. "I had a dad possibly like yours," Howey explains, "sullen, sporadically hostile, frequently vacant." It was her loving mother who eventually confided her father's secret when Howey was 15, by which time it came as a relief that the remoteness, the drinking, the mood swings were not the young Noelle's fault, but the result of her father's constantly stifled "yearning for angora." Although the early chapters are interesting, Dress Codes really takes off at the halfway point, when her father realized he was not a heterosexual male transvestite, but a woman. His sexual transition, and the family's awkward adjustment to it--including the author's inability in high school to keep any secret aside from this One Big Secret--is written with warmth and insight, and colored with a lonely girl's lingering disappointment. --Regina Marler --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
In this rich memoir, Howey details not one life, but three. It's a difficult juggling act, but it pays off beautifully, for the story of her father's coming out as a male-to-female transsexual is only part of a larger narrative of growing up female in America. Howey's writing is neither sensationalistic nor condescendingly cheery; this is a loving portrait of a girl's complicated relationship to her father's femininity and her own. The author, co-editor of Out of the Ordinary: Essays on Growing Up with Gay, Lesbian and Transgender Parents, nicely juxtaposes her childhood dress-up games and clandestine sexual experimentation (she wanted to be Madonna) with her father's secret penchant for soft scarves and pumps (he dreamed of becoming Annette Funicello). As a teenager, Howey was impatient with the attention that her father's adventures always garnered and told her parents, both of whom she enjoyed a healthy relationship with, about her sex life: "It was a power maneuver on my part.... Dad kept raising the bar of what Mom and I could accept with equanimity, and I felt justified in doing the same." She is no less forthcoming about the odd celebrity status having a transsexual parent granted her at her ultra-liberal college, elevating her "above all the other upper-middle-class white chicks in thrift wear roaming the commons." Howey's candid, funny writing gives this memoir the cast of fiction, perhaps not surprising in a book honest enough to admit "we all reconstruct our lives in reverse, altering our own anecdotes and stories year after year in order to make them more congruent with our present-day selves." Agent, Karen Gerwin. (May)Forecast: Sure, there are lots of books out there on families with transgendered parents. But how many are memoirs? And how many are as funny and candid as this one? Howey's work will do splendidly.