The Woman I Was Not Born to Be: A Transsexual Journey
Book: The Woman I Was Not Born to Be: A Transsexual Journey , by Aleshia Brevard, ISBN10: 1566398401, ISBN13: 9781566398404, Temple University Press, February 2001, Paperback
Aleshia Brevard continues to be active in theater as an actress and director.
Told with humor and flair, this is the autobiography of one transsexual's wild ride from boyhood as Alfred Brevard ("Buddy") Crenshaw in rural Tennessee to voluptuous female entertainer in Hollywood. Aleshia Brevard, as she is now known, underwent transitional surgery in Los Angeles in 1962, one of the first such operations in the United States. (The famous sexual surgery pioneer Harry Benjamin himself broke the news to Brevard's parents.)
Under the stage name Lee Shaw, Brevard worked as a drag queen at Finocchio's, a San Francisco club, doing Marilyn Monroe impersonations. (Like Marilyn, she sought romance all the time and had a string of entanglements with men.) Later, she worked as a stripper in Reno and as a Playboy Bunny at the Sunset Strip hutch.
After playing opposite Don Knotts in the movie The Love God, Brevard appeared in other films and broke into TV as a regular on the Red Skelton Show. She created the role of Tex on the daytime soap opera One Life To Live. As a woman, Brevard returned to teach theater at East Tennessee State, the same university she had attended as a boy.
This memoir is a rare pre-Women's Movement account of coming to terms with gender identity. Brevard writes frankly about the degree to which she organized her life around pleasing men, and how absurd it all seems to her now.
These days, it is understood that sometimes boys will be girls; in Alfred Brevard Crenshaw's case, he wanted to be a woman--and what a woman! Born in 1937 to a genteel Tennessee family, Crenshaw knew that he was different from an early age. In his early 20s, he fled to San Francisco, where he became a female impersonator and a hit, under the name Lee Shaw, at Finocchio's, the world-famous nightclub featuring top-line drag entertainment. But by the early 1960s, simply dressing up wasn't enough; Shaw wanted to undergo surgery to become a woman. His desire was so great that, even before he underwent the brand-new technique of transsexual surgery, he castrated himself (with the help of a friend) in his own kitchen to shut down his body's production of testosterone. After seeking safer, medical solutions to his gender dysphoria (namely, 11 hours of surgery), Lee emerged as Aleshia Brevard--a well-built knockout. Pursuing a career in entertainment, Aleshia became a burlesque queen, a Playboy bunny and a B-movie star, playing the lead against Don Knotts in The Love God. Brevard's story adds an entertaining curve to the growing body of literature--academic, scientific, theoretical and literary--on transgender experience, without the self-pity or sentimentality found in many such memoirs. 17 photos. (Mar. 26) Forecast: Written in a gossipy style reminiscent of 1950s movie-star autobiographies (which, at heart, it is), this book could break out beyond the publisher's more usual academic readership to lovers of celebrity tell-alls and B-movies. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
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