Transgender book review: Thumbs up for “The Color of Sunlight”

mishelle woodringLEXIE CANNES STATE OF TRANS — I’ve the view that no one transgender person’s story is more important than another — they’re all vital whether they’re totally inspirational or just a sordid accounting of the shortcomings of our society. Moving forward is easier with everyone’s participation.  The trials and tribulations of trans woman Mishelle Woodring is no exception here.

On the other side of the coin, these stories need to be read if they are to matter. And this is where “The Color of Sunlight” especially shines. Writer Michelle Alexander tells Woodring’s story the same way she came into Woodring’s life — at first warily and a bit skeptical only to find Woodring having complete grasp of her heart at the end.

This book stands out because it’s an opportunity to reach people that wouldn’t otherwise be of interest in reading something about trans people or trans issues. Indeed, Woodring being transgender is rather secondary until you’re already sucked into the story, then it’s too late — many of the initial confusion, political incorrectness, or perhaps even prejudices, then just falls away, the same way it did for Alexander shortly after meeting Woodring.

The preponderance of other human fragilities with Woodring certainly puts a spin on all things transgender not usually seen or talked about. Indeed, you doesn’t have to be able to see to know you’re transgender. And that alone will turn many a reader into complete acceptance of trans people.

While I have a few personal quibbles about the book, but in this case, I feel it’s best to keep them to myself, as I can picture others absolutely enjoying those aspects of the book — especially those new to trans people and the trans community.

I give this book a thumbs up and a tip of the hat to Ms. Alexander.

ISBN: 978-1451583328

mishelle woodring

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Categories: Transgender, Transsexual, Trans

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8 replies

  1. As far as I can tell, you can get this book via

  2. It’s a factor that I had to learn to accept that I can only in this life achieve are to be a trans-person when my ultimate goal was to be a women … but well I love to be myself !

  3. Thank you for your kind compliments, Lexi. Yes, I am the co-author of “The Color of Sunlight.”

    In November of 2008, Mrs. Michelle Alexander and I met on Jennifer Finney Boylan’s on-line forum and discussed her experience. I noted that it should be published and she responded that she had attempted to interest publishers in the project but was rejected because, in her own words: “I’m not a writer!” True, she is a nurse and a very good one, but not a writer. I offered to assist and she sent me 150 pages of notes and rather disorganized narratives that were not particularly “commercially viable.” Over the course of a year, I managed to rewrite, edit and expand the material she gave me and the result was the book you have so kindly described.

    I knew from the beginning that this was the opportunity of a lifetime. I AM a writer and an English major at Portland State University in my senior year. I knew that this story was unique, heartbreaking and altogether invaluable, both as a social commentary and a compassionate narrative of an amazing relationship. The nomination committee for the Lambda Literary Awards agreed and nominated it as a finalist in the category of Transgender Non-Fiction in 2010. It was a great honor.

    I must agree that there are flaws in the book–notably the overuse of semi-colons–but the work still stands as a description of a remarkable relationship between two strong, intelligent and wonderfully unique women whose love and respect transcended gender, economic barriers and even the communication barriers common to the blind. Mishelle Woodring was blind from eighteen months of age, but knew who and what she was from the moment she became self-aware. It is a triumphant declaration of the immutable fact that gender is a state or condition definable only by that person alone. No one else can decide but that person. Mishelle was completely blind and thus had no way to compare herself to anyone, yet she KNEW, fully and completely, that she was female.

    It was my honor to write this book, yet, as I noted in the Afterword, I shall always regret that I never had a chance to meet her. I might also note that this book is available through the university library system and therefore can be accessed by scholars and students seeking to better understand the riddle of gender.

    Thank you again for your kind words and understanding.

  4. Thank you for taking the time to read the book and write a review! My experience with Mishelle was a life changing moment for me! If I enjoyed writing, I could write another book regarding the experiences after the book. Who knows, maybe someday! Thanks again, Lexie!

  5. You’re welcome! And good luck to you!

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