Fine book and well worth the read.
Personally speaking, I find that memoirs by transgender individuals are among the most interesting reads of all types of books. “A Walk in Confidence” by Paula Coffer is probably one the better entrees in the tg genre. The author, grappling from earliest memories with severe gender variant feelings, finally came to terms with her gender after living as a man in her gender of birth for over forty years. She now has spent the last twenty plus years of her life in a female gender role. Rather than being a single memoir, “”A Walk…” is actually a collection of many memoirs apparently written over the years and woven together into a sweet tapestry.
Coffer, a Vietnam veteran, is a prolific writer and, to say the least, has led a very interesting and eventful life fraught with a good deal of change. Besides the obvious gender transition, there has also been a variety of careers and several committed relationships, two of them resulting in children. Who among us can say we had successful careers both as an enlisted person in the US Navy and then as an officer in the US Army? And after all this, changing genders and subsequently nailing down several other responsible positions in government service, higher education and then as an Afghani-based financial consultant to the US war effort? Amazing stuff! Although some people (regretfully not her family of origin) were embracing and compassionate about the author’s gender transition, she has often had a really rough go of it at the hands of others. In the final analysis, Coffer is quite an incredible individual, a role model and example to others, for her resilience and motivation to have what she wants instead of the reasons why she doesn’t have it.
Of course, there are always regrets along the way for everyone and Coffer certainly is no exception. In her life, there were the fits and starts to her belated transition and with it the purges, so common in transgender individuals. There were frustrations around her children, particularly at being blocked from seeing them because of the vitriol of ex-spouses and societal pressures. And, although she doesn’t quite see this as loneliness, there is the missing element she relates of not walking hand-in-hand into the sunset of life with a loving and treasured partner. Last, but not least, the author’s parents never gave the emerging Paula a chance, always overly conscious of the opinions of others and of what the community might say.
If I have any complaints about Coffer’s work, it is in the occasional repetitious nature, which I understand was probably a necessary offshoot of the various vignettes which no doubt were written over several decades. The author has packed lots into this book, but tends to go back over the same ground in these little tales in an attempt to bring the reader up to speed, even sometimes re-presenting the same story she has told earlier. In addition, I do take issue with what appears to be a certain elitism with regard to her judgments about those on the gender spectrum who are not transitioned transsexuals. I don’t think that her strong opinions in this area added to this work and, in this regard, she sometimes comes off as judgmental. Aside from that, this is a fine book and well worth the read.