I keep picking up these fairly popular books on transgender people, and I keep getting disappointed. It seems all of the trans people are disappointed in life, depressed, schizophrenic, had a very clear choice, and/or has atrophied bits or other gender reproductive system organs in them, that simply needed to be found during the surgery. Convenient. Wow. So I grabbed David Ebershoff book “The Danish Girl” (ISBN 9781474601573; 336p.; Goodreads), with hopes that maybe, maybe this will be better. But once again I got disappointed. So if you don’t feel like reading my rants, know that the movie was pretty okay, even good, but this book is just not worth the trouble, and time.
Einar is a painter, married to a painter. He paints, well, mainly the bog he grew up by, landscapes. She paints portraits, unsuccessfully. The best sold portraits she ever made were of Lilly. Or rather, of her husband dressed as a woman. And while this continues, Einar is sinking deeper, and deeper into some kind of mental illness, split personality disorder. And I mean it. He pulls up the pants, and forgets how he got here, who Lilly spoke to. There’s two completely separate people in his body.
Through the book we’re seeing this disorder intensifying. He even gets monthly nose bleeds, which leaves me wondering whether it’s his mind fighting through somehow, or did he have a tumor that split his persona, or otherwise affected him. Mind you, I am not claiming Lilly wasn’t a real woman, or that Einar wasn’t transgender. No, I am sure that was the case. But I am also sure that she was mentally ill too first and foremost, and that they should’ve helped her untangle everything before pushing her to choose: another brain doctor that’ll make your mind masculine again (yes, this is NOT a choice, but the book gave it as one), or a sex change. Oh, and surprise surprise, they open her up, and find some remnants of atrophied female reproductive system bits.
I hated the suggestions in this book: trans people have split personalities; trans people are most likely physically secretly the gender they feel like, you just have to dig deep during surgery; trans people are nuts. They aren’t. Or if they are, it’s not a trans trait, it’s simply a human trait. I await the day where the trans character I’ll read will be happy, living their life, having adventures. This book gets 2 out of 5 for trying.