Cover image for Crossing : a memoir
Crossing : a memoir
McCloskey, Deirdre N.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Chicago : University of Chicago Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
xvi, 266 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
Personal Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HQ77.8.M39 A3 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



We have read the stories of those who have "crossed" lines of race and class and culture. But few have written of crossing--completely and entirely--the gender line. Crossing is the story of Deirdre McCloskey (formerly Donald), once a golden boy of conservative economics and a child of 1950s and 1960s privilege, and her dramatic and poignant journey to becoming a woman. McCloskey's account of her painstaking efforts to learn to "be a woman" unearth fundamental questions about gender and identity, and hatreds and anxieties, revealing surprising answers.

Author Notes

Deirdre N. McCloskey is University Professor of the Human Sciences at the University of Illinois, Chicago. She is the author of nine books, including The Vices of Economists and If You're So Smart , the latter published by the University of Chicago Press.

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Deirdre, formerly Donald, McCloskey tells of decades of cross-dressing while he was a married man with children before turning to the travails that followed the decision to become a woman. The steps leading to the operation were often difficult, especially because McCloskey's psychologist sister was obsessed with the idea that her brother was manic-depressive, despite lacking appropriate symptoms, and persuaded the family to allow the humiliation of arrest and commitment in a locked psychiatric ward--repeatedly. McCloskey persisted, though, in America and Holland, where he was a university guest lecturer after his wife divorced him. That an affluent, upper-middle-class person should be so powerless against a mental-health bureaucracy still subscribing to its official pronouncement that transsexualism is a "gender identity disorder" makes for gripping reading. --Whitney Scott

Publisher's Weekly Review

Transsexuality has fascinated mainstream readers since 1953, when former U.S. serviceman George Jorgensen went to Sweden and, to banner headlines, returned as Christine. Since then, there has been a string of notable memoirs of gender crossing, including Geoff Brown's sincere I Want What I Want (1966), Jan Morris's meditative Conundrum (1974) and Holly Woodlawn's campy A Low Life in High Heels (1994). McCloskey's own odyssey from Donald to Deirdre is closest to noted journalist Morris's, in that it charts the life change of a highly regarded public figureÄMcCloskey is a world-famous conservative economistÄwho finds fulfillment as a woman after four decades of living as a man. McCloskey forthrightly describes her upper-middle-class youth in Boston, her early and lifelong interest in cross-dressing, her education and eventual success as an academic and her marriage and children. In her late 40s, McCloskey decided that she was not simply a heterosexual cross-dresser but a transsexual and decided to undergo a series of operations to become an anatomical woman. Her memoir effectively details the pain involved: a bitter divorce, insurance companies' refusal to cover surgeries and her sister's repeated attempts to block the process legally. McCloskey's proclivity to jump around in time, her tendency to disrupt the flow of her story with social and political digressions and the constant placing of additional thoughts and ideas in bold text throughout the narrative distract from her storyÄbut her courage nevertheless shines through. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

McCloskey, married for 30 years, the father of two, and an economics and history professor, was a secret cross-dresser for 41 years, as "Jane." At 52, he realized that his real identity was as a woman and began transitioning as "Dee" to become "Deirdre." At the heart of this fascinating and poignant story, told in the third person, are the two years (one in Holland) of hormones, multiple surgeries, electrolysis, and a legal name change, all part of the physical and emotional "crossing" from male to female. The big-boned Deirdre describes the joy of "passing," the fear of being "read," and the occasional loving support she has received in contrast to painful estrangement from family, friends, and colleagues. At times revealing, humorous, and provocative, this often overwrought and self-righteous book is marred by minor mistakes, includes gross generalizations about gender differences, and inconsistently employs italicized bold type to represent internal thoughts. For larger public and academic libraries.ÄJames E. Van Buskirk, San Francisco P.L. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

McCloskey (Univ. of Iowa) presents a vivid, touching autobiography of a man--a Harvard PhD, former high school football team captain, happily married father of two children, and well-known, much honored professor--who became a woman. A stutterer and secret heterosexual transvestite in private, McCloskey, at age 53, realized that "he" was actually "she," and started an arduous path toward complete womanhood. Many obstacles occurred on that path: involuntary incarceration in mental hospitals, arranged by a "well-meaning" psychologist younger sister who lived far away (and being charged thousands of dollars to pay for those hospitalizations); divorce from a now hostile ex-wife and children; a vocal-cord operation that failed; and so on, until the sex operation. McCloskey now prefers being called a "gender-crosser" instead of the more medical term "transsexual" (further confusing the current terminology, which distinguishes transgenderists, who retain their original genitalia while living full-time in the opposite gender dress and role, from transsexuals, who also have their genitals reversed). Well-written; all levels. R. W. Smith; California State University, Northridge

Table of Contents

Part 1 Doubt
1 Boy to Man
2 Marriage
3 Internet, 1995
4 Professor Dressed
5 Clubs
6 In the Ladies' Room
7 Boldness
8 Epiphany
9 Losing Family
10 Academic Drag
11 A Day You Feel Pretty
12 Premarin
13 Sweet October
Part 2 Struggle
14 Outed
15 ""Welcome""
16 The Cuckoo's Nest17.Hearing?
18 Then Why Are You Doing This?
19 Chicago
20 Changing
21 Sister's Last
22 Professional Girl Economist
23 Farewell Speech
24 Dutch Welcome
25 The Worst Days in February
26 Passing
27 Yes, Ma'am
Part 3 Across
28 Vriendinnetjes