What if your name was Jennifer but you wanted to be Jeremy? What if you knew you were a boy and you wanted to do boy things like play sports, but if you had to take a physical and it included a pap smear, the results would say you were what you most feared? What would you do if you got boobs and had a period, and you worried that no one—not even your parents and sister—would understand why you felt trapped in the wrong body?
Jeremy Wallace has been through all those feelings, and in Taking the Scenic Route to Manhood, he shares all the questions, self-doubt, anxiety, fear, frustration, depression, laughs, and hopes that such a realization can bring. From growing up wearing dresses he despised and trying to live life as a tomboy, through questioning whether he was a lesbian, to discovering the new term “transgender” in the early 1990s, and starting to find answers, Jeremy takes us on a whirlwind tour of growing up in the Midwest in the 1970s and 1980s, and how he finally came to the realization as a young man that it was time to transition to being male.
Let me say that because I was born in 1971 like Jeremy; I could relate to a lot of his experiences, from the toys he played with to seeing how people’s viewpoints about sexuality have changed in the last few decades. Jeremy has truly been part of this second sexual revolution or transgender revolution or whatever history will call it. I feel he is documenting and making history by writing this book, and it will be an important historical document for future generations about our time. But more importantly, it will be a manifesto of hope to countless others who are questioning their own genders, identities, sexuality, and what it means to be true to yourself.
I can’t imagine there is any topic about being transgender that Jeremy doesn’t honestly discuss in these pages (other than his admitting that not everyone’s journey is the same, and because he has transitioned from female to male, he can’t speak completely to what a male to female transition would be like). Throughout Taking the Scenic Route to Manhood, Jeremy shares courageously the best and worst of himself and the experiences he has undergone. He doesn’t hold back, and he finds humor in many of the situations he experienced and can even look back and laugh over the things he worried about that were unnecessary.
Among the life incidents Jeremy honestly shares is a brush with being suicidal and time spent in a youth psychiatric facility as a teenager while he tried to come to terms and define what was troubling him. He talks about his teenage fears with dating boys as well as the difficulties of dating after his transition as an adult male. He discusses what it was like to tell his family that he was transgender and wanted to make the transition from female to male, and what it is like to go through all the hormone therapy and other requirements to make the transition. He shares the emotional toll of transition as well as the financial costs and the learning curve of how to live as a different gender.
And then there’s the bathroom humor—to pee or not to pee in a public place, from fear the other guys will know you once were a woman but now are using the men’s room. And there’s the red tape—explaining you used to be a girl but now you’re a guy at the voting booth, or when dealing with the DMV, or having to warn your bank loan officer that when she runs a credit check on you, a female instead of a male name will come up.
But best of all, there’s the sense that you have done the right thing and now you can truly be who you always knew you were. Jeremy admits he was lucky because he had a supportive family and friends, but even then, his journey took a great deal of courage. And now, he is showing even more courage by publishing this “tell all” book and going out to speak about transgender issues and transformative change to share his story with others.
In Taking the Scenic Route to Manhood, the transitioning transgender person will find courage, hope, and plenty of laughs. The person just curious to know more about transgender people will have an eye-opening experience beyond anything to be learned on a daily talk show. Most importantly, everyone will benefit from reading this book and remembering that we’re all human, we all have the right to be who we want to be, and we can all learn to be more humane when we try to understand others. In the end, as Jeremy reveals, being true to yourself becomes the best way we can all work to make the world a better place.
For more information about Jeremy Wallace and Taking the Scenic Route to Manhood, visit the author’s website.[amazon template=iframe image&asin= 1940984688]