Australian Kyle Rae was in the sixth grade when he realized he was different from the other boys. “I would fantasise [sic] about being a girl, doing girly things. I wished I had been born a girl.” It took Kyle nearly half a century to rectify what nature had gotten wrong. That journey from male to female is the subject of Kylie Rae’s memoir, It’s Not Who I Am.
Though not entirely devoid of poignant moments, the memoir suffers from a surfeit of extraneous detail largely irrelevant to its theme. We learn more about stump removal on the family farm and the relative intelligence of emus vs. kangaroos, for example, than we do the genesis of the author’s marriage to a woman named Karyn and the birth of their two children. Ultimately, the marriage ends in divorce.
Other key elements of Kylie’s life story are similarly summarily dispatched, as in: “I had some problems and ended up spending some time in prison.” And: “I tried to end my life twice by overdosing on drugs…”
The author’s trips to Thailand to undergo facial feminization surgery, breast augmentation and sex reassignment surgery are recounted as a vague hybrid of medical memoir and travelogue. “We had lunch after leaving Pattaya at a very nice spot,” Rae writes. “There were two large rectangle dams which were full of fish…” Poor grammar may further impede some readers: “The first three and a half years of my life is blank; I have no recollection of what may have went on…”
Most memorable are the moments when Kylie reveals her innermost thoughts, as when she writes of her struggle to live as a husband and father. “The last thing before I went to sleep,” she notes, “I would say to myself, ‘Remember, wake as a male does.’ ”
Unfortunately, there are too few of these passages to make for a moving read, despite the compelling subject matter.
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