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The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

“Part biography, part cultural history, The First Man-Made Man is a dramatic, revelatory narrative that brightly illuminates the psyche of the first female-to-male.”—Chicago Sun Times

In the 1920s, when Laura Dillon felt like a man trapped in a womans body, there were no words to describe her condition; transsexual had yet to enter common usage. And there was no known solution to being stuck between the sexes. In a desperate bid to feel comfortable in her own skin, she experimented with breakthrough technologies that ultimately transformed the human body and revolutionized medicine. Michael Dillons incredible story, from upper-class orphan girl to Buddhist monk, reveals the struggles of early transsexuals and challenges conventional notions of what gender really means.

Pagan Kennedy has published seven books. Her biography Black Livingstone was named a New York Times Notable. Her novel Spinsters was short-listed for the Orange Prize and was the winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. She has written for The New York Times magazine, Boston Globe magazine, the Village Voice, Details, the Utne Reader, The Nation, and Ms. magazine. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.
In the 1920s when Laura Dillon felt like a man trapped in a womans body, there were no words to describe her condition; transsexuals had yet to enter common usage. And there was no known solution to being stuck between the sexes. Laura Dillon did all she could on her own: she cut her hair, dressed in mens clothing, bound her breasts with a belt. But in a desperate bid to feel comfortable in her own skin, she experimented with breakthrough technologies that ultimately transformed the human body and revolutionized medicine. From upper-class orphan girl to Oxford lesbian, from post-surgery romance with Roberta Cowell (an early male-to-female) to self-imposed exile in India, Michael Dillons incredible story reveals the struggles of early transsexuals and challenges conventional notions of what gender really means.
"This book is pure brilliance—the research, the execution, the wonder and heartbreak. What an incredible story."—Natalie Goldberg, author of Writing Down the Bones and The Great Failure
 
"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, California, School Library Journal 
 
"The 1920s, the era of Kennedy's devastatingly good book, were a time when, though thousands may have felt trapped in the wrong bodies, the word transsexual was unknown. For such persons, leading double lives and being unable to trust anyone for fear of exposure involved 'silence and subterfuge.' Lives could 'be destroyed by one stray rumor.' Yet back then, Michael Dillon (née Laura Dillon) and Roberta Cowell (né Robert Cowell) risked everything to change their genders. In mesmerizing detail after mesmerizing detail, Kennedy describes the deception, the secrets, the endless humiliations, and the almost unimaginable effort that went into not only Dillon's and Cowell's daily lives, which essentially involved living a lie during every waking moment, but also the struggles they had to endure to find someone who understood what they were going through and, most important, could alter their lives—that is, perform sex change operations. In the early 1950s, Christine Jorgensen became known as the first transsexual (male-to-female), but Man-Made Man makes clear that that distinction belongs to Michael Dillon (female-to-male). Novelist Kennedy's literary chops serve her well in this fascinating and heartbreaking social history and tale of two lost souls, for it is as absorbing and powerful as any fiction."—June Sawyers, Booklist (starred review)
 
"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 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 . . . an entertaining and informative popular history."—Publishers Weekly

Synopsis:

“Part biography, part cultural history, The First Man-Made Man is a dramatic, revelatory narrative that brightly illuminates the psyche of the first female-to-male.”—Chicago Sun Times

In the 1920s, when Laura Dillon felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body, there were no words to describe her condition; transsexual had yet to enter common usage. And there was no known solution to being stuck between the sexes. In a desperate bid to feel comfortable in her own skin, she experimented with breakthrough technologies that ultimately transformed the human body and revolutionized medicine. Michael Dillon’s incredible story, from upper-class orphan girl to Buddhist monk, reveals the struggles of early transsexuals and challenges conventional notions of what gender really means.

Synopsis:

“Part biography, part cultural history, The First Man-Made Man is a dramatic, revelatory narrative that brightly illuminates the psyche of the first female-to-male.”—Chicago Sun Times

In the 1920s, when Laura Dillon felt like a man trapped in a womans body, there were no words to describe her condition; transsexual had yet to enter common usage. And there was no known solution to being stuck between the sexes. In a desperate bid to feel comfortable in her own skin, she experimented with breakthrough technologies that ultimately transformed the human body and revolutionized medicine. Michael Dillons incredible story, from upper-class orphan girl to Buddhist monk, reveals the struggles of early transsexuals and challenges conventional notions of what gender really means.

About the Author

Pagan Kennedy has published eight books. Her biography Black Livingstone was named a New York Times Notable Book. Her novel Spinsters was short-listed for the Orange Prize and was the winner of the Barnes & Noble Discover Award. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, Boston Globe Magazine, the Village Voice, Details, the Utne Reader, the Nation, and Ms. magazine. She lives in Somerville, Massachusetts.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781596910164
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Subject:
Gay Studies
Author:
Kennedy, Pagan
Subject:
Specific Groups - General
Subject:
Gender Studies
Subject:
Gender identity
Subject:
Great britain
Subject:
General Biography
Subject:
Transsexuals - Great Britain
Subject:
Sex change - Great Britain
Subject:
Biography - General
Subject:
Gay and Lesbian-General
Edition Description:
Trade Paper
Series Volume:
The Story of Two Sex
Publication Date:
20080304
Binding:
Paperback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Y
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
7.84 x 5.96 x 0.605 in

Related Subjects

Biography » General
Gay and Lesbian » Fiction and Poetry » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » General
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Transgender

The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution
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Product details 224 pages Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - English 9781596910164 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
“Part biography, part cultural history, The First Man-Made Man is a dramatic, revelatory narrative that brightly illuminates the psyche of the first female-to-male.”—Chicago Sun Times

In the 1920s, when Laura Dillon felt like a man trapped in a woman’s body, there were no words to describe her condition; transsexual had yet to enter common usage. And there was no known solution to being stuck between the sexes. In a desperate bid to feel comfortable in her own skin, she experimented with breakthrough technologies that ultimately transformed the human body and revolutionized medicine. Michael Dillon’s incredible story, from upper-class orphan girl to Buddhist monk, reveals the struggles of early transsexuals and challenges conventional notions of what gender really means.

"Synopsis" by ,
“Part biography, part cultural history, The First Man-Made Man is a dramatic, revelatory narrative that brightly illuminates the psyche of the first female-to-male.”—Chicago Sun Times

In the 1920s, when Laura Dillon felt like a man trapped in a womans body, there were no words to describe her condition; transsexual had yet to enter common usage. And there was no known solution to being stuck between the sexes. In a desperate bid to feel comfortable in her own skin, she experimented with breakthrough technologies that ultimately transformed the human body and revolutionized medicine. Michael Dillons incredible story, from upper-class orphan girl to Buddhist monk, reveals the struggles of early transsexuals and challenges conventional notions of what gender really means.

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