The coming-out novel is rather passé these days, but the coming-out-as-transgender saga is still fresh. That’s the terrain staked out by Tricia Dale’s I’ve Told Someone.
This is the journey of Iain, a British man who, at age 50, having married and sired two children, decides he’s tired of admiring pretty women in their pretty dresses; he wants to be one of them. His transformation begins with baby steps: a wig here, a dress there, a brief foray in public in drag. Within months, Iain has become Tricia, hanging out in pubs with her transgender friends and clothes shopping with abandon. There’s sex, catty conversations and, eventually, Tricia scrounges the courage to enter a transgender beauty contest, a way to earn public validation of her new identity.
Although dealing with interesting subject matter, the book presents many frustrations. We get only superficial accounts of Tricia’s relationship with her parents (“decent people”), ex-wife or kids. How have they reacted to Iain’s transformation? We aren’t told. Nor do we learn how the drag persona has impacted Tricia’s job, or what friends outside transgender circles think about the mid-life reinvention.
In addition, parts of this book are written in Tricia’s first-person voice, others in a sort of third-person omniscience, as though Tricia the writer were observing Tricia the character in full drag stride. The juxtaposition is jarring.
Finally, the book contains a plethora of British slang. Pubs are “tuck shops.” “Fizzy pop” is beer and so on. Americans readers will find some of the terms baffling.
One can perhaps overlook the book’s numerous editing and grammar mistakes, but if the author truly wanted us to know the pain and triumph of gender transition, she’d have given us the unvarnished facts, rather than such surface detail. As it stands, those contemplating the transgender journey will find some useful tips on self-empowerment. Others will feel that the author means well but hasn’t revealed nearly enough.
Also available as an ebook.