Ruby's Reviews > Trans-Sister Radio

Trans-Sister Radio by Chris Bohjalian
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's review
Sep 17, 2008

did not like it
Recommended for: people with curiosity about mtf transition who can't handle non-fiction
Read in September, 2008

If you're looking for an introduction to transgender issues, this may be a great book for you. I wasn't.

It seems apparent to me that the author thought the idea of a trans character was so intriguing that he would research the phenomenon and write a convincing book about the world of the transitioning MTF. I guess this is what authors do, and I can't fault his research -- as far as I know nothing he said in the book was inaccurate.

It was, however, bland, predictable, and ultimately implausible.

My biggest problem was with the obsessive way in which this transition was the only issue in any of the characters' lives. The story is told from four points of view, that of the MTF, her girlfriend, her girlfriend's ex-husband, and her girlfriend's daughter. The play on words in the title is grating, as the father, and ultimately the daughter, too, are involved in public radio.

Whenever Bohjalian ventures away from the transition (which I feel as if I should capitalize or italicize to highlight its importance as it is emphasized in the book), which is rare, the story sags and becomes paper thin. We see the ex-husband go through a divorce that barely concerns him. We hear about the daughter's love affairs as if they're handshakes in a parking lot. It's apparent that Bohjalian wanted to talk about one thing, and one thing only: the transition.

Maybe I'm jaded, being a part of the queer community, and having a number of friends who have transitioned. Maybe I've read too many coming out stories, and I'm bored with the focus on one event in a person's life taking over everything. Queers have other interests than their genetalia, I swear. Even people whose genetalia is not aligned with their gender.

Finally, the ending was predictable and convenient, and though it was satisfying to have a happy ending for a couple of characters in the story, I also felt disappointed, and disbelieving. Do we really need to return to the comfort of heterosexuality to find happiness? Should we read that into the ending?

Perhaps that is Bohjalian's answer, but it sure isn't mine.
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Comments (showing 1-7 of 7) (7 new)

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blktoast Perfect review! You hit the nail right on the head!

Meri Anne Schow I found the ending to be a slap in the face. Yet ANOTHER story where the Cross Dresser or M2F Post-Op Transgender leaves the ever faithful Girlfriend/Wife to run off and live happily ever after with a man. I don't know why I expected anything different. I guess I had higher hopes for this author.

message 3: by Jason (new) - added it

Jason ugh to all these comments and this review! I hate, hate, when an author takes up a topic just because it's hot. I've seen this w/ gay lit, hiv, and recently autism. thanks for all your comments and the review. I'll take a major pass on picking this one up.

message 4: by Lee (new) - rated it 1 star

Lee I had the same problem.

message 5: by Elizabeth (new) - added it

Elizabeth Pearce Could any of you recommend a book (novel) that contains some LGBTQ character(s) that escapes some of the traps this book fell into?

message 6: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Pomeroy I agree with everything you've said here. This book really made me want to seek out books written by transgender writers to get a more authentic, nuanced view. I see this book was first published in 1998, so it must have seemed very ahead of its time then, at least to what I figure was its target audience of straight white people. In 2015? Not so much.

Bronwen Morgan Yup. Author came up with a title he believed to be genius and then contrived a plot around it. Bad approach and bad writing.

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