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This is the blog of Ian Rosales Casocot. Filipino writer. Sometime academic. Former backpacker. Twink bait. Hamster lover.

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Saturday, November 21, 2020

entry arrow11:53 AM | Jan Morris, 1926-2020

One of my favorite books is Conundrum by Jan Morris [1926-2020], the celebrated travel and history writer who also became a pioneering voice of transsexualism. The 1974 book is a stunning memoir of her transitioning from James Morris, who was an accomplished soldier in the British military during World War II and then an accomplished journalist, to "Jan." The book hooks you with its first paragraph -- “I was three or perhaps four years old when I realized that I had been born into the wrong body, and should really be a girl. I remember the moment well, and it is the earliest memory of my life” -- words so iconic that they became the cover art of the 2013 edition of the book published by New York Review Books. For a writer devoted to mapping the externals landscapes of the world, she also proved adept at delving into the internal, in prose so lyrical I couldn't put it down. "I cherished it as a secret," she wrote, "shared for twenty years with not a single soul. At first I did not regard it as an especially significant secret. I was as vague as the next child about the meaning of sex, and I assumed it to be simply another aspect of differentness. For different in some way I recognized myself to be. Nobody ever urged me to be like other children: conformity was not a quality coveted in our home." But when she deigned to finally share that secret, and to finally reconcile the world with the truth of her identity, we became all the more blessed for it. Her passing is a great loss, but she will be appreciated forever for helping show the way to merit trans people their full, realized lives.

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