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The First Man-Made Man-

  • Title: The First Man-Made Man
  • Author:
  • Released: 2008-12-11
  • Language:
  • Pages: 226
  • ISBN:
  • ISBN13:
  • ASIN: B002TTICN2

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From Publishers Weekly In 1950, Michael Dillon, a dapper, bearded medical student, met Roberta Cowell, a boyish-looking woman, for lunch in a discreet London restaurant. During the lunch, Dillon announced that five years earlier he was a woman named Laura, and Roberta stated she was on her way to full womanhood from being Robert. Eventually, Cowell (a former Royal Air Force captain) would garner fame as a glamorous woman and author of the 1954 bestseller Roberta Cowell's Story, while in 1958 Dillon began a long, rocky journey to become a Tibetan monk. But Kennedy (Black Livingstone) does far more than detail their short-lived, topsy-turvy transgender romance. She gives us an enlightening tour of how mid-century science conceptualized gender, hormones and transsexual surgery, as well as how advances in plastic surgery for men maimed in WWI became the basis for sex change operations. Kennedy's slangy style—she describes presurgery Dillon as living in the "slushy canal between sexes"—also suits the material. Though her effort doesn't surpass other books on the topic—especially Joanne Meyerowitz's How Sex Changed: A History of Transsexuality in the United States—it's an entertaining and informative popular history. (Mar.)
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From School Library Journal Adult/High School—Born into a wealthy family near the beginning of the 20th century, Laura Dillon attended Oxford University and went on to become a doctor, a published author, and, eventually, a man named Michael. At Oxford, she tried to identify as a homosexual, but that didn't quite fit; it would be years before the words transsexual or transgendered were coined. In 1939, Dillon began to experiment with a new drug, testosterone. Her life changed after meeting Dr. Gillies, a practitioner in the emerging field of plastic surgery, who performed several operations to reconfigure Dillon's anatomy. Upon meeting Roberta Crowell in 1949, Michael believed that he had found his soul mate. Born and raised as a man, Crowell was in the process of transforming into a woman. Following a failed love affair, Dillon traveled to India to study Buddhism. He died a pauper after finally discovering happiness among monks in Tibet. He left a legacy of notebooks, memoirs, and a groundbreaking treatise on the nature of sex and gender. These form the basis of Kennedy's narrative, which leapfrogs back and forth across Dillon's life. Kennedy traces the emotional isolation and triumphs throughout Dillon's struggle to define himself according to his own rules. The author peppers the text with historical details of early-20th-century medicine and evolving notions of gender in Western society. This story is fascinating to modern readers whether or not they have personal questions about gender.—Heidi Dolamore, San Mateo County Library, CA
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