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Transgender Book Reviews

My Husband Betty

My Husband Betty is, as the title suggests, written by the wife of a cross dresser. Helen Boyd is an American who writes with all the passion and uncompromising honesty you’d expect of a New Yorker. Subtitled “Love, Sex and Life with a Cross Dresser”, just how intimate does it really get?

My Husband Betty - a book about living with a crossdresser

Unlike many of the books available that talk of transgender life, My Husband Betty isn’t a personal memoir of the life and times of a transvestite’s spouse, although it does contain many interesting, thought provoking, heart warming and even gut wrenching tales from Helen’s experience and a great many others that she interviewed to compile the book. More importantly, it examines the issues behind the stories and gets real about the challenges that cross dressers face with themselves, with being in a heterosexual relationship and the world at large. And best of all, it tells cross dressers in plain open English, what their wives think – invaluable information for every married TGirl who wants to understand their partner better in order to strengthen their relationship.

Helen puts forth a wealth of useful information about cross dressers and why they are the way they are, together with information about their partners and how they cope. There is one of the best histories of the transgender world I’ve read in there which sheds light on many of the misconceptions about transvestites from the time when it was regarded as purely a homosexual pursuit through to the times when trans-organisations declared it non-sexual up to the modern time. She also touches with great sensitivity on the subject of transexualism; a deep fear for any wife of a transvestite as well as looking openly at the sexual issues faced by cross dressers. Lastly there’s a look at the transgender scene and at the politics at play behind it.

It’s a very well written book that reads easily for it’s warmth, humour and most important, honesty. It is hugely apparent that Helen, like the wives of many crossdressers, loves her husband dearly and wants to voice her concerns and be understood so that their relationship can grow and both partners can find all they need for a fulfilling life with each other. I want to say categorically that I applaud Helen’s bravery in looking not only at the cute and harmless side, but in investigating areas such as sexual fantasy that would make many a wife run. Her journalistic talent is clear, but further the fact that she looks objectively without preconception helps her paint a more realistic picture that often dispels many of the myths otherwise associated with certain subjects. For instance, can a woman be completely fulfilled even though she is the dominant sexual partner? Does allowing a partner to crossdress open the gateway to him having a sex change? Do transvestites really understand women? What issues commonly arrive when a crossdresser is unable to express his feelings in a safe way within a relationship?

There are certain things in My Husband Betty are US-centric; for example the listings of transgender support organisations. Equally at a more subtle level, American man and women are typically more extreme as stereotypes than their European counterparts. By that I mean that a “real man” stereotype in the US may be some muscle bound, gun toting, beer swilling tyrannosaurus of a man, which is of course born from the times when America was less developed than it is now and only the stronger settlers survived and so people had a genuine need for sons to grow up to be strong men. In the UK we have the English Gentleman who was always famously feminine by comparison. In some respects, culturally, North American cross dressers are breaking a far bigger standard than their European sisters. And the language varies too; in the UK “cross dresser” would be the term tabloid press would use if a politician or celebrity were uncovered in some type of sex scandal as it has more sordid connotations here than transvestite which implies more an expressive hobby.

However the book isn’t about definitions of transgender terms and these minor variations won’t detract from it’s impact at all for European readers. My Husband Betty is about how cross dressers or transvestites relate to themselves and their wives and the issues that face them as a couple. In that respect, My Husband Betty does a fantastic job, as these issues are universal. Should you allow cross dressing the bedroom? Can you talk openly about your sexual needs between you as a couple? Can you share your husband’s passion for fashion and turn it into something that brings you closer as a couple? What do other women and cross dressers feel about this and what has worked for them?

If you are the wife, partner or significant other of a cross dresser I cannot recommend this book to you strongly enough. You’ll feel so much for Helen’s words as she talks about the things that have made her smile about her husband and the things that have made her worry deeply whether being with him was the right choice. There are many other wives too who contributed, all providing alternative viewpoints right the way from I can’t bear it at all through to I love it and would only want to be with a transgendered male.

Likewise if you are a TGirl and you are heterosexual, this book could just be the set of clues you need to find happiness with the woman you love. By understanding what it is that will really freak her out to the bottom of her stomach and what it is that she needs to hear from you, you’ll be in the greatest possible position to give her what she wants and find a mutually acceptable way of getting what you need too.

When transgender author Lacey Leigh wrote “My Husband Betty should be liquified, bagged and plugged in as an IV drip for all self-questioning crossdressers and those in their lives” it really was only just touching on how much this book can help you. What more can I say? Read it!

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