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Sex Changes: A Memoir of Marriage, Gender, and Moving On

3.03  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  61 reviews
What do you do when the other woman is your husband? A wife's memoir of her husband's sex change

Christine Benvenuto had been married for more than twenty years—with three young children—when her husband turned to her one night in bed and said "I'm thinking constantly about my gender." He was unhappy in his body and wanted to become a woman.

Part memoir, part voyeur's look i
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by St. Martin's Press
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B Newmark
Dec 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
The book is honest and true. Having your life torn away from you is hard as hell. I recommend this book with an open heart. I would like to note that the writers ex husband has launched a campaign to trash this book. How dare a woman tell her own story? The ex left a very spiteful review of the book on this site and has had other do the same--and that really is part of a bigger issue. See J. Ladin review

The narcissism the manipulation of the Ms. Joy Ladin’s review on her ex wife’s book is part
Apr 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Sex Changes is not the story of Tracey, a transgendered man who eventually decides to live as his 'true self' but instead is the story of the family he leaves behind. This memoir, written by his wife Christine, chronicles not only Tracey's decision but the impact it had on his wife of twenty years and their children. The marriage gets ugly, the divorce gets worse and, in the end, everyone isn't laughing and getting together for a New Age Normal Rockwell Christmas.

Whether she meant to or not, Ch
Jun 06, 2013 rated it did not like it
I found this book to be incredibly disrespectful, which was very disappointing. I was looking forward to reading an account from a new perspective, but found instead the author's words to be full of hostility towards her partner. I was discomforted by her choice of pronouns and how she expressed her partner's feelings of being trans* as if worthy of ridicule. This was a very disappointing and infuriating book to attempt to read.
Apr 20, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: didn-t-finish
ugh. quit reading on page 42 when she referred to her post transition husband as 'he.'

I get that not all partners are happy with transition, but I don't need to read their negative vitriol about the situation.
Stella Fouts
Dec 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Do you think that a woman, who happens to be trapped in a man's body, is the only person with a voice? The only person with rights? The only person who should be supported in all ways? Think again. Especially when a wife and children are part of the picture. Christine Benvenuto writes about the loss - right before her eyes - of the man she loved, married and with whom she had children. Her description of his physical death as a man, as she watches helplessly, is painful for the reader. (Imagine ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
A good read. An insightful look into how one family is destroyed by the husband's desire to become a woman.
Apr 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Refreshingly honest, a brilliant and compelling book.
Jamie (Books and Ladders)
DNF @ 39%

Look, you can be angry. I do not want to invalidate anyone's feelings. But you cannot be angry BECAUSE your significant other feels the need to have a sex change. This is another one of those books where you have One Version, Another Version, and then The Truth. And I did not enjoy this version, I would have rather heard the truth.
Christie Alicea
Aug 29, 2013 rated it did not like it
Where to start? I feel sad for Christine, but only because I think she is a vindictive, selfish, self-absorbed person. Now I can only know her from the pages of this book, so I may be off in my assessment. But this is what I got from her.

I myself have experienced a "loss" due to a friend coming out as transgender. It was not a spouse, but a best friend, and the loss was felt nonetheless. The stages Christine describes - denial, anger, then grief, are all understandable and natural. But she seems
Jun 30, 2013 rated it it was ok
Having read Joy Ladin's Through the Door of Life it felt only fair to read her ex-wife's book, Sex Changes. The book both absorbed me and repelled me: absorbed because of the very real grief and tumult that Ladin's wife and children weathered in the aftermath of her deciding to transition; repelled because of the streak of plain nastiness that runs through the text, bordering on outright transphobia.

There is no doubt that Benvenuto's life was turned upside down by Ladin's decision, and she exper
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it
I have complex reactions to this complex book. It is a difficult read, not because it is poorly written (although it is poorly structured in some ways and could have used a stronger editorial hand), but because it is, as many other reviewers have noted, so brutally honest. Which means that we feel the depth of the pain and grief Benvenuto experienced as her husband of 20 years admitted his/her gender dysphoria and decided to transition, not only ending their marriage and destroying their family, ...more
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
This is one woman's story of a section of her life during which her husband of 20 years decided to live as a woman. It also includes her ensuing affair with another man.

What struck me most about Christine Benvenuto's experience were two things she repeatedly emphasized: the complete character change that accompanied her husband Tracey's gender bending, and the seemingly unanimous unconditional support the community offered to Tracey.

Tracey didn't only decide he felt like a woman and wanted to ma
Apr 06, 2016 rated it really liked it
Without being terribly maudlin, Christine describes what many forget about transgenderism: how it effects those who think they know--and love very deeply--the person who decides to transition. She describes her grief at losing the husband and father she loves as she witnesses the more-than-physical changes that occur as he embraces his "true" self. He is at times highly narcissistic, selfish, and manipulative, traits she would never have ascribed to the man she knew. (She doesn't believe that th ...more
Sarah Buchanan
The author repeats herself a lot, and the book could have been about 50 pages shorter, but it's interesting to hear about the trans experience from the other side -- the partners left behind.
Aug 25, 2017 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Frieda Vizel
Jan 12, 2013 rated it liked it
2.5 stars

This story is from an often unheard voice, that of the wife of someone who changes gender; a someone who after 20 years of being a bearded man metamorphoses into a white-sandaled woman. It's an important story to tell at a time our society places so much value on individuality, self actualization, becoming-who-you-need-to-be-at-all-cost. We are often too quick to cheer on a "hero" who radically changes his/her life in pursuit of themselves without thinking of the implications these acti
Sadie Forsythe
No rating on this one; it's too far outside of my realm of relate-ability to put a score on it. I reminded myself repeatedly throughout reading this that this is not the story of her husband's transition. It is instead the story of her experience as her husband transitions. And as she is a devout Jew for whom unnecessary body modifications are discouraged (possibly sinful), from a time when gender was black and white and has no same sex leanings, her husbands sudden choice, after 20 years of mar ...more
Laura Roush
Dec 17, 2012 rated it liked it
This book offers a 300 page glimpse of transsexuality and the transition experience from the point-of-view of a wife who was ignorant of—or at least failed to acknowledge—the trapped woman within her husband’s body. At times, Ms. Benvenuto is bitter, sarcastic, and angry, but as to be expected. After all, this is a story of the hurt she and her children experienced as a result of her ex-husband’s transition, not a clinical researcher’s account of the experience. With this book, hopefully she has ...more
Marti Dahlquist
Nov 28, 2017 rated it it was ok
When I started the book I had no idea whose perspective it was from. I hadn't read anything beyond the title and assumed it was another memoir of the journey to gender reassignment. Not at all. This is an extremely bitter wife writing an angry tell all.

Her pain is justified, but her actions are not. I felt torn as I read because I wanted to embrace her anguish, but she was completely off putting. I found myself questioning if it were possible that every single person in her story was as villaino
Wow, this book was something. The author's marriage ends due to her husband's decision to become the woman he always felt that he was. I can completely get that the author was filled with anger, disappointment, and disgust. I cannot imagine how I would deal with the same. However, I felt that her rage overwhelmed the book. It felt filled with hate. I cringed every time that she referred to the "Valley of the Politically Incorrect" - and I mean literally cringed. Although interesting to read, I f ...more
Maya Camhi
Mar 16, 2015 rated it liked it
As long as you can pull yourself out of a cultural and social movement about gender empowerment, Christine details her and her children's struggles from her point of view. Her husband is only an anecdote and his behavior must not be expected to represent the face of the transgendered movement, but hers is a definite legitamate viewpoint that should be considered. Transgender issues affect more than just the person with gender dysphoria. She is honest and explains her hurt in a way that you could ...more
Tara Kyrios
Jan 29, 2015 rated it liked it
This book hurt to read. I am in that liberal, politically correct crowd that she is so against. However, I want to see the other side of everything. This definitely did that. It was brutal. Seeing the aftermath of a parent switching genders has changed my ideology a bit. Or at least my compassion. I think a lot of the commenters want too much from the author. A grieving woman should not have to worry about pronouns, at least not for a while. She is angry and hurt. Why should Tracey be the only o ...more
Often disjointed, it is the telling of loss and reawakening, reflecting how the two overlap while also acknowledging that the journey is hardly linear nor that revelations come in moments. A deeply personal story, admitting to how the PC reaction is difficult when it is yourself, and more so your children, living through the changes. Rounded up from 2.5.
May 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
I saw this book in a list of books by alums of Sarah Lawrence and decided to read it to learn something. It is very well written (at least Sarah Lawrence was good at teaching that to its students) and I did learn something.
Tina Miller
Aug 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
A memoir from a woman with a strong and clear voice. The transgender experience seen from the family and wife's perspective. Honest and angry, the author completes a journey she was given no choice about without villianizing her ex-husband.
Mark Syron
Well, I am shocked with how petty and immature that Tracey is in this memoir. How Christine had to deal with is astonishing. Tracey changed greatly. From a man who was a family man to acting like a child, immaturity definitely there, and not thinking for the best future for her children to deal with such a big thing as gender transition. And this is coming back form a trans man. Christine husband did 180 when becoming a woman. Never considering how hard it is for a twenty odd year marriage to en ...more
Dec 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
What an angry and spiteful author, the book is one long angry hate rant. It reads like a diary of some 'mean girl'? I could understand why the author refused to Ever refer to their transwoman(Tracy) ex-partner as a she, grieve, and discredit her, its a book about her point of view, but she embraces her rage and "betrayal" throughout the book.

To give you an idea of the rants about Tracy(Transwoman): she was psychotic transitioning, it was pathetic all childs dressup, done just to insult her as a
Dec 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Yue Cai
Sep 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
I liked this book as the author has been open about her feelings during the gender transition of her husband. It's easy to compliment the transgender for their courage to make such choices, but fewer has come to realize potential pains such choices have caused to their families, especially their partners, and this book told a true story.
I randomly picked this for a biography challenge. I had never thought about transgender changes and how it affects the family. Very interesting. Applies to any situation where one person has a change and the people around are affected but don’t have the supports.
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Is this a reliable narrative 4 45 Nov 07, 2014 03:03PM  
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Christine Benvenuto grew up in Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College. In the interests of earning a living she has polished paperweights, taught journalism and edited and ghost-written highly complex works on science and technology that she did not understand in the least. Her fiction and essays have appeared in many publications. She is the author of SHIKSA: THE GENTILE WO ...more
“In the property division splitting couples go through, the allocation of friends must surely be the most painful.” 1 likes
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