Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey between Genders
by Joy Ladin
Univ. of Wisconsin Press. 270 pages, $26.95
AUTHOR JOY LADIN “never much wanted to live.” Born into relative privilege, Ladin had a good childhood, but death always “seemed close.” Ladin remembers thinking that the idea of dying was exciting, while life was not, because he was forced to live in the wrong body, having been born as a boy. “I spent my childhood trying to be what people wanted me to be,” Ladin says, which worked outwardly. Few noticed or knew that he was struggling, so adept was he at tamping down feelings of sorrow.
At seventeen, while away at college, Ladin met his “life partner,” to whom he confessed his inner turmoil. The woman was undaunted. They married in 1982, but Ladin’s wife made it clear that she could accept Ladin’s transsexual feelings but not an actual transition. They started a family within the decade; Ladin took pride in being a father and tried to continue living the life of a heterosexual family man.