Synopsis: Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender is creative nonfiction that takes an unflinching but humorous look at living as a butch in a pink/blue, boy-girl, M/F world. Here’s my theory: I’ve always been a butch. When I was a child, it was called being a “tomboy” (also known as “embarrassing my mother”). Back then, I liked to think I was a boy-girl hybrid, perhaps grown from special heirloom seeds. Later in life, I came out as a lesbian, which explained my fondness for flannel and sensible shoes, as well as my masculine ways.
Still, something wasn’t quite right. I watched spectator-like as my hair got shorter and my clothes started coming from the opposite side of the department store. When someone called me “sir” for the first time, I realized I had unintentionally crossed over into foreign territory — that sliver of space that exists in the middle place between the absolutes of boy and girl.
Leaving Normal: Adventures in Gender is for anyone who has ever felt different, especially those who have found themselves living in the gender margins without a rule book.
5 out of 5 stars
I’ve been a fan of “The Flannel Files” blog for some time now, and have enjoyed reading it for a butch perspective. I was beyond thrilled when asked if I would like to review a copy of “Leaving Normal”.
The book is fantastic. Written in small chapters, each chapter is a snapshot of a time in the author’s life. It’s an easy read and sucks the reader in so quickly. I finished it in a day and think most readers will too simply because it’s so hard to put down.
As you read, you experience life in the author’s shoes for that moment in time, both good and bad. Good when Theodore witnesses a grandmother saying “Whatever” to her grandchild’s correction of her misgendering Theodore. Bad when Theodore is trapped in a public restroom because a small child keeps saying “There is a man.” The book is painful in parts, painfully sweet, funny, and pure hurt in others.
As a femme, I am not misgendered. I don’t have that experience. But boy, can I relate. I have my very own butch who is called “Sir” and gets a double-take in the women’s restroom. I can also relate with my own experience of being marginalized and having to come out over and over again.
This book is for everyone. Everyone who has felt alone or separate because of their gender. Everyone who has felt marginalized due to their sexuality. Everyone who has been ashamed because someone used the wrong pronouns, or used the one they wanted to hear by mistake. Everyone who has ever felt like they were the only person in the world who felt the way they did.
I hope to see more books by Rae Theodore in the future.