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All About Yves: Notes from a transition

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Was I always trans, part boy beneath my skin, or was it that I landed in a place where ‘girl’ was a container so small it could break your bones?

I learn that a ready smile and sympathetic ear are the only props required to impersonate a woman. The performance becomes so familiar I almost forget that it’s staged.
What happens when, aged 30, you understand you’re transgender?

This was the question that confronted Yves Rees, a historian whose life was upended by gender transition in 2018. Then known as a woman called Anne, Yves was forced to grapple with the sudden knowledge that they were not, in fact, female at all.

But when you’ve lived a lie for so long, how do you discover who you really are? And how do you re-learn to live in the world as a different gender?

All About Yves tells their moving journey of re-becoming, at the same time laying bare the messiness of bodies, gender and identity. It shares the challenges and joys of being transgender in Australia today, and reveals how trans experiences like Yves' can teach all of us about what it means to be man or woman.

320 pages, Paperback

First published August 1, 2021

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Yves Rees

3 books5 followers

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5 stars
117 (48%)
4 stars
96 (39%)
3 stars
21 (8%)
2 stars
6 (2%)
1 star
1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 47 reviews
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
Author 57 books606 followers
October 8, 2021
This is an incredibly generous account of Rees’ trans identity. I was stopped in my tracks (literally, I listened to the audio edition on walks) when they spoke of their gender affirmation surgery being delayed in 2020, realising it must have been delayed again this year. What tough setbacks. I so appreciated Rees’s honesty throughout but also the way they worked to place their transition within a larger trans history and context. I am hungry for this. And I loved that amongst the trauma and gender dysphoria there were still so many moments of joy: when Rees wears their first binder, choosing a name, discovering clothes that fit in the Kmart boys department, watching film and tv shows with good trans representation, finding a community and sources of inspiration on social media, getting a haircut that felt right for the first time. Trans joy is something to celebrate. The gender binary seems so needlessly limiting when you stop and think about it and I’m so grateful for books that make me, a gender conforming cis person, do exactly that.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
117 reviews
October 27, 2021
When my book club chose this book, I honestly wasn’t looking forward to it. And not because of the trans subject matter, but more because memoirs have never been my thing. But that’s why I love my book club—it makes me read books outside my preferred genres.

Anyway, I’m really glad I read this book, because I found it interesting and educational. Rees covers a different aspect of their trans experience in each chapter (name choosing, binding, reconciling trans with feminism, hair, etc.) and I found this a compelling way to empathise with their experience. I’d like to think I will use these lessons to be a better ally to my LGBTQIA+ friends (and if I don’t please call me out on it).
Profile Image for Maria.
4 reviews1 follower
September 4, 2021
A fascinating journey through the author's experience of 're-becoming'. Rees skilfully situates their personal story within the broader historical and cultural context of transgender people in Australia and around the world. This book is at once generous and challenging, providing a unique perspective on complex questions of identity, sexuality and the human experience.
Profile Image for Tania.
462 reviews16 followers
August 8, 2022
4.5 ⭐️ Lives up to the “paradigm shifting” blurb. Rees has a clean and palpably honest writing style, giving perspective to historical and contemporary gender issues, woven with their own story to make a compelling and valuable read.
136 reviews1 follower
October 10, 2021
Beautifully written. Smart, enlightening, at times funny, and deeply moving. A memoir that gives so much to the reader. I urge everyone to read it and help make the world a better place for all.
Profile Image for ALPHAreader.
1,152 reviews
November 18, 2021
Fair warning; this is a Jacinta di Mase author, just so you know my biased opinion.

But with that in mind and truly with hand on heart I need to say that; ‘All About Yves: Notes from a transition’ by Yves Rees is one of the BEST books I’ve read this year. Hands down.

“What happens when, aged 30, you understand you're transgender?”

This is what Yves grappled with - and as a historian by profession - initially tries to tackle in a somewhat analytical, ordered way … but of course, this is a huge upheaval. It’s a “re-becoming.” Yves puts it so well early on, when they say; “The dam of my silence had broken before I’d even realised it was starting to crack.”

What follows is a multi-layered journey that is so beautifully and viscerally captured in Yves’s unique, fresh voice. Echoed wonderfully in this #Audiobook by superb choice of narrator in Harvey Zielinski (a transgender actor, writer, script consultant and advocate: he/him. Pitched *perfectly* and warmly, adding such beautiful touch-points to this story.)

And this isn’t just a Trans story (“just” when it’s literally realising who you have been becoming all your life, there’s a whole universe within that idea!) - but it also touches wonderfully and openly on Yves being asexual and aromantic (little or no sexual attraction to others, and little or no romantic attraction towards others).

This was a real gift to read and listen to during #TransAwarenessWeek (Nov 13 - 19) it definitely opened my heart and mind in ways I was surprised and grateful for. And just … a real pleasure to sit with Yves’s incredible words and articulations that I’ll carry forevermore. Wonderful.
Profile Image for Linda.
Author 31 books152 followers
April 13, 2022
This book is essential reading. Yves Rees writes beautifully, intelligently and with honesty and humour about their realisation, at thirty, that they were trans - and that this could be a destination, beyond the gender binary, in itself. They write about what it means, personally, philosophically, biologically, historically and politically, to be trans, and why pronouns matter. (As a CIS-gendered female, even one with trans friends, family and colleagues, I used to think that putting 'she/her' on my Instagram profile, for example, would be just virtue signalling, but after reading this book, I realised that it is so much more important than that - if we all state our pronouns, it normalises the habit and situates trans people within society, rather than on its fringes.) I thought I knew a lot about the subject, one I care about because of precious trans people in my life, but All About Yves made me realise I knew way too little. I hope that this book can empower and brighten the lives of trans people and help the rest of us become good allies.
Profile Image for Rhonda.
354 reviews3 followers
January 30, 2022
Could not put this down. This book is generous in its sharing of a deeply personal experience. It is also very accessible, written as it is in a style and voice that reads like a listening to a new acquaintance telling their life over tea. It ranges from highly specific, personal details re the author's relationship with their body from not feeling comfortable in their skin to the specifics of how to find male clothes that fit and deal with friends who repeatedly get the pronouns wrong simultaneously analysing media representation (or lack of) trawling through history and a wonderful bit where they refer to their cats and how important the wet noses and soft fur is in days filled with the stresses simply of getting out the door and being safe in a way non trans people do not have to think about. The range is thorough and covers more than I have said here and is a work I hope many will read as it fills gaps and is a great offset for the damage the media does with its blinkered vision, love of two dimensional labels and the space it gives to irrelevancies that cloud the single fact that this is another section of Australian society whose freedom to exist easily in our society is compromised by society's refusal to let them live their lives outside their front doors as they do at home, in their own skin.
1 review
January 27, 2023
Truly phenomenal! This is is the kind of book I want to buy ten copies of to lend to all my friends and family. Dr Rees was kind enough to come to my queer book club and they are a delight. Can’t recommend this book highly enough!!
Profile Image for Cath Ferla.
Author 1 book9 followers
September 22, 2021
Beautifully written memoir on the experience of a gender transition. Big heart, deep reflection and a willingness to share the complex and sometimes complicated issues around becoming oneself make this book engaging and important.
Profile Image for Chelsea.
78 reviews8 followers
November 29, 2021
I wanted to like this, I really did. I'm grateful that Yves was brave enough to share their story.
I struggled with some of the "only trans people suffer" stuff, particularly when we got to covid. I agree it must have been very difficult, but as someone who is single and lives alone, with no family close by, I also felt isolated.
I also felt at times that Yves feel into their own trap of the pronouns, in that they are determined for people to get their own pronouns correct, but when talking about people they tended to default to the gender normative themselves, unless the person had identified their pronouns. I suppose I was hyper-aware reading it, but if being referred to as 'she' distresses you so much, would you not be more conscious of others?
I think this book, and the author, are amazing, but I could feel the objective academic in the author coming out in a subjectively biased way. Now of course this will be a biased POV - it's a memoir, an autobiography. So scrap the judgementy tone of "by now society should..." Yes, LBGTQIA+ and gender diversity is not a new concept, but much of society were not raised with it being a prominent part of their lives. For the most part, in my experience, people try, and are genuine, and are learning.
In sure this reads like I hated the book, which I definitely didn't, I just had some strong opinions of my own while listening to it (audiobook). And maybe the tone of the narrator played a part?
February 22, 2022
Beautifully written with so much honesty and reflection. I learnt so much about the complexity and nuance of what it means to be trans. My heart sank reading about statistics that highlight how much harder it is just to be trans, the prejudice faced and impacts on mental health.

There are also moments of pure joy, coming along with Yves through their journey. The importance of language taught me so much, I took so much from this book. Highly recommend!
65 reviews
October 30, 2021
3.5 - informative and honest account of transition which I found enlightening in some aspects, challenging in others - the chapters on feminism and media in particular. A little clumsily written which was offputting to the reading experience at times eg the Apple Watch promo section, but overall worth reading - I now have better insight to be more mindful of trans people and their rights in future so the book achieved its purpose.
Profile Image for Katie.
181 reviews72 followers
March 2, 2022
An outstanding piece of storytelling from Yves - unflinchingly honest and self aware, sharing dark moments just as openly as the light moments. I would highly recommend this book to anyone, but especially those who might be going through discovery of their own gender identity, or for their loved ones.
Profile Image for WildWoila.
288 reviews
December 11, 2021
Being, and becoming, trans. An open & accessible primer on the feelings, complications & trauma for us clueless privileged cis-types. Thought-provoking on feminism & binaryism.
Profile Image for Ewa Michalak.
47 reviews
December 22, 2021
A great read. At once a personal account, and a broadly informative book about the spectrum of how gender is experienced and performed.
Profile Image for Charlotte Wirtz.
11 reviews2 followers
January 4, 2022
Oh Yves, you can’t write a book with so many of my childhood gender experiences. The men’s clothes in DJs!
Profile Image for Libby.
63 reviews14 followers
June 12, 2023
I really wish I could read some books where I could finish the book not feeling incredibly conflicted. I found some of this book illuminating and validating. Some of it I really struggled with because Yves seems to apply the same gendered black and white thinking that others apply to them, to others. I really struggle when trans people vouch for not being gender normative, but then appear to be default gender normative about other people and not acknowledge that.

I don’t regret reading this book, I just regret finishing it just before bedtime. As a person with multiple chronic illnesses, the last chapter was a little enraging as it felt like they were saying that trans healthcare is the only healthcare in Australia with waiting periods or where you have to wait months to see a doctor and they might be running late, or your results may not have come in. I deal with different aspects of the healthcare system every day, and hearing them be so frustrated by delays in getting access to care, but then by their own admission saying they might not even use the T that they went to the appointment specifically to get? That was hard to swallow. I understand that having the choice is important, and that maybe once you have the choice, you realise you might not actually want it, and that is valid, but complaining about how important it was for you to get this care but then openly admitting that you might not actually use it? I kinda wish they had kept that to themselves. It smacks of privilege. As someone who had access to important endometriosis surgery delayed due to lockdown, and having to deal with daily fatigue and pain because of that, it made it hard for me to have empathy with the author.

It also frustrated me when they got annoyed about people having IVF delayed by COVID being big news, and how more of a spotlight should’ve been put on trans healthcare being delayed. I definitely was frustrated by the lack of understanding in the general public of what ‘elective’ surgery was at the time when all elective surgeries were being delayed by COVID, and know that delays to elective surgery can absolutely result in people dying. However, this isn’t exclusive to trans healthcare, and to be fair, as long as a trans person isn’t suicidal and isn’t going to go through puberty soon, hopefully they will eventually get the healthcare they need without it altering the course of their life too much, while the people going through IVF might never get the chance to have a child because COVID delayed them past the window where it was possible. (I say this as someone who doesn’t want to have kids, and who generally gets frustrated by the overemphasis societally on having children being most important thing you could ever do. However, I’ve watched many people I love go through IVF and it is bloody heartbreaking and my heart was going out to those people when we were going through lockdown and COVID healthcare delays.)
Profile Image for Indy Scarletti (paperindy).
243 reviews13 followers
November 5, 2021
All About Yves is a beautifully written memoir of an Australian historian's journey of uncovering their trans self in their 30s.

I appreciated Yves' candor, insight and perspectives. It is always refreshing to read books set in places you know and can relate to, and this was done delightfully. You hear about their experience in the Melbourne lockdown, of working at the university I went to for 6 months, of graduating from the University I'm currently at. It's fascinating to see how a trans person navigates contemporary Australia and in particular the challenges around name changes and academia.

The writing style was overall very compelling, full of imagery and beautiful turns of phrase. But there were times it got slightly caught up in itself. I am thinking of one particular moment when a hairdresser remarked on the author's naturally blonde hair, and while some of the discomfort from a white supremacist perspective was justified, it was a bit tenuous to then argue "the hype over blondes was a little too much like the Klu Klux Klan stalwart with pedophilic tendencies." Particularly as a few pages later Yves expresses not wanting to shave their blond hair due to it, admittedly, being special.

Occasionally there were other similar moments that required a bit of a generous reading and lost me slightly. But Yves is very aware of contradictions within themselves and doesn't shy away from these conflicting moments, which is one of the best parts of this book. Small gripes aside, this memoir is really great and I think it gives such an intelligent and personal account of reckoning with the containers of your messy self. Of being fiercely feminist and trans, and of "living the questions" that allow you to grow and change and transition/transform/transcend. To not be 'trans something', but just to be trans, as Yves puts it.

Highly recommended for anyone curious on this topic or without a close trans friend to ask about their experience. This was a well written memoir filled with insight.
Profile Image for Amanda Wells.
368 reviews10 followers
November 22, 2021
This is a generous book. I don’t usually read memoirs, but I’ve come to love Dr Rees’ voice in public spaces (radio, writing and Twitter) and their words are particularly considered, intersectional and intelligent.
This book is naturally more “messy” than shorter form academic writing that I’ve read from Rees before. Appropriately so. Rees blends their vulnerable confessions in with intellectual vigour, in a way that reminds me of my own attempts to be honest in writing (though I don’t think I’ve ever got a far or deep as this).
The parts of the book that moved me the most involved Rees’ relationships with their mother, their cats, and their friends. When they say that gender is relational, it resonated. I sometimes feel that I don’t know who I am without relationship to other people. And I struggle to imagine a person’s story without relationships to imagine them through.
On the thread that runs through this memoir, I understand Rees’ conception of trans-ness far better than I had before. They include perspectives from other TGD people as well, which helped me as a reader position Rees’ search for a sense of themself. I love the place that they land in terms of their trans-ness: the destination is trans. I love the willingness to accept that space and those questions. That capacity impresses me, and I’m all the more in awe because of it.

I usually say if I recommend the book or not at the end of my little spiels. Obviously, yes. Especially if you want a window into the experience of a person who found themselves after society tells us that we ought to have already been found. The generosity of Rees’ words (I want to be more familiar and say Yves - I feel I know them as a friend now!) will be a light for people who need to understand that they are not backed into the corners society has presented us with. Live the questions, indeed.
5 reviews
February 11, 2023
The author is very open and honest in their sharing the various aspects of them realising they are trans and coming out and living as a trans person.
However it's a memoir of the "I just discovered this new thing and now I'm going to teach you all about it" type which I usually find annoying and I did in this case too. As the title implies, it is all about them, and tends to overgeneralise their experience to that of other trans people.
The other issue is that at various points in the book they seem to want to win the oppression Olympics. Enby is the most oppressed kind of trans because they challenge the gender binary. Trans and queer people had the worst lockdown because the premier never mentioned them. Shaving your head in Northside Melbourne is a very dangerous thing to do. The best one is the class prejudice they were subject to because as an Upper Middle Class Australian (apparently all of whom know French) they never realised the plebs (including their university colleagues) would read Yves as Eves and hear Yves as Eve (which they say is how it is pronounced, but not how it should be written on their coffee cup).
Profile Image for Courtney.
206 reviews5 followers
July 28, 2022
At 30 years old, Yves Rees was an accomplished historian, having completed their PhD, and recently started working as a Research Fellow at La Trobe University. They had also been hit with the life-changing realisation that they are transgender.

All About Yves is an incredibly open, honest and vulnerable account of Rees’ journey through transition and self-discovery, including the challenges of having to re-learn their identity and who they were at the age of 30. They take us with them as they discover the perfect wardrobe lies in the Kmart boys department, as they try to pick a new name, and navigate the process of accessing gender-affirming medical care.

This book also highlights Rees’ strength and passion as a historian, discussing the history of transgender experiences, including representation in media and gendered-language. They are careful to acknowledge the work and advocacy of their predecessors, as well as their particular privilege as a white, educated, middle-class person, and the barriers faced by trans people without these privileges.

As this book is only a very recent release, there were chapters towards the end about the impact of the pandemic on Rees and trans people generally, such as lack of access to gender-affirming surgeries during lockdowns and restrictions. Even being unable to go to a hairdresser for a haircut, which for a lot of people was annoying at worst, triggered gender dysphoria for Rees (and I’m sure for many other trans people).

All About Yves is such an important memoir, which highlights not only gender dysphoria, but also trans and queer joy and euphoria which has only recently started being reflected in literature. Thank you to Yves Rees for sharing their story so generously.
Profile Image for Lisandra Linde.
Author 1 book5 followers
October 27, 2021
Such an important and wonderful book. I found myself marking out passages and making notes in the margins every time I found a particularly beautiful or powerful line or something which so relatable it had me shouting "yes, exactly this!". Rees writes about the complexities of navigating trans identity in a world thrown into chaos by the pandemic and impeding environmental disaster, while maintaining a gentle hopefulness for the future. They also write about what it's like to occupy the space between male and female, rejecting the idea that being trans must mean moving from one gender to the other. Instead, they embrace their gender as "a mess with a beauty all its own".
Profile Image for Bronya Robinson .
151 reviews14 followers
July 20, 2022
This was such a beautiful memoir from Melbourne-local Dr Yves Rees about their journey of self-discovery, and both the highs and lows of being trans.

They expertly weave their story of realisation, coming out, and socially transitioning with discussions on feminism, asexuality, and Indigenous cultures, as well as offering tales of the trials of shopping in the men's section and pronoun challenges. This is done all while navigating an increasingly politically fraught world, and then the impacts of COVID on queer mental health and access to life-saving transition services.

I absolutely loved this with my whole heart, and lowkey I wanna meet them

Book 4 of my covid isolation reads
Profile Image for Nat.
50 reviews2 followers
February 23, 2023
I needed this. I am living in a heteronormative bubble and I had so many questions about translife and queer living. This answered ALL my questions on trans grammar and trans history and beyond. The confusing reality of living somewhere in between the binary norms where second guessing who you are is a constant. Let's not forget that when people say they are confused or worried about the psychology and wellbeing of queer folk, it is often feigned concern doubled as ignorance, see TERF. Anyway, I am here for this unfolding, expansive definition of gender identity. I want this book to be shared and reviewed and celebrated for its honesty and bravery and revealing authenticity. Thank you.
Profile Image for Tesmos.
73 reviews
December 23, 2021
A great excursion through a person’s lived experience of identifying as trans. I learned a lot. I do question some of the views that the heteronormative and patriarchal society we live in is deliberate and intended to exclude others. I am not sure about that. I wonder if it’s because we don’t think about the consequences of decisions for others so they are then excluded. It’s not ideal by any stretch but the need to belong is so strong that we will do anything to do just. Anyway I’m more informed about this topic and enjoyed the read.
Profile Image for Philip Hunt.
Author 5 books4 followers
February 24, 2022
Comprehensive and Confronting

AFAB: Assigned Female At Birth. But not a woman. This is Yves Rees’ journey towards discovering their ‘transness’. In the binary world of Male and Female this is a journey of immense challenges, confusion and pain. Yves tells it all without resorting to metaphors and double meanings. No gender stone is left unturned. Each is examined, judged and filed.

And, all the while, you will enjoy the work of a very good and entertaining writer.

Really well done!
Profile Image for Han Reardon-Smith.
47 reviews4 followers
September 29, 2022
Beautifully written, deeply felt memoir that conveys viscerally the somatic experience of being trans in a world determined to categorise you into a rigid gender binary. Yves gives voice to feelings familiar to me, to greater and lesser degrees, as well as compassionately looking beyond their own loved experiences to those of people going through similar stories equipped with less privileges, and to those of the not-trans people close to them. This is a special book that I’ll read again for sure, and treasure greatly.
267 reviews1 follower
May 31, 2023
I heard Yves at the Adelaide and then the Bendigo Writers Festival. Given the attention/controversy/comment in the public sphere, I wanted to be better informed about all things trans, TERF, and associated debates. (One of the few things I miss about work is the briefings on emerging social issues by people with expertise). In this book, they are insightful and raw about change, emergence, reactions, toilets and words. Coupled with listening to a podcast called The Witch Trials of J K Rowling, I feel a tad better informed. Highly recommended
Profile Image for Vince.
114 reviews
July 11, 2022
Thoughtful, vulnerable, and often amusing. This is a highly readable memoir that opened my eyes to the joys and pains of growing into a new identity as trans. While brutally honest about the awakening process that leads to the author's transition, it's not trauma porn. Rather, it captures the sense of liberation and possibility we make possible when society gives more folks encouragement to grow into the fullest, most authentic version of themselves—especially beyond the gender binary.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 47 reviews

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