What Becomes You


What Becomes You

New Edition

Aaron Raz Link and Hilda Raz

American Lives Series

324 pages


April 2021


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2021


$21.95 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
Ebook purchases delivered via Leaf e-Reader

April 2007


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

“Being a man, like being a woman, is something you have to learn,” Aaron Raz Link remarks. Few would know this better than the coauthor of What Becomes You, who began life as a girl named Sarah and twenty-nine years later began life anew as a gay man. Turning from female to male and from teaching scientist to theatre performer, Link documents the extraordinary medical, social, legal, and personal processes involved in a complete identity change.

Hilda Raz, a well-known feminist writer and teacher, observes the process as both an “astonished” parent and as a professor who has studied gender issues. All these perspectives come into play in this collaborative memoir, which travels between women’s experience and men’s lives, explores the art and science of changing sex, maps uncharted family values, and journeys through a world transformed by surgery, hormones, love, and . . . clown school. Combining personal experience and critical analysis, the book is an unusual—and unusually fascinating—reflection on gender, sex, and the art of living.

Author Bio

Aaron Raz Link has been a writing professor, a science educator for major museums, and a curriculum developer and lead instructor for a National Institutes of Health initiative program supporting diversity in science and medicine. He has also been a day laborer, a puppeteer, and the artistic director of Gorilla Theater, a company of performers from the streets. Hilda Raz is the author or editor of fourteen books, including her most recent, Letter from a Place I’ve Never Been: New and Collected Poems, 1986–2020 (Nebraska, 2021). She is editor of the Mary Burritt Christiansen Poetry Series at the University of New Mexico Press and poetry editor for ABQ (in)Print and Bosque Press. 


“The deepest pleasure of memoir is that it can teach us to see truths through eyes other than our own, and What Becomes You accomplishes exactly that.”—Gayle Salamon, Great Plains Quarterly

“Aaron Raz Link’s story is a vital contribution to the oeuvre of transgender literature. . . .  It is careful and tender while simultaneously confrontational and challenging.”—Julie R. Enszer, Lambda Book Report

“This deeply personal collaborative memoir details the multiple layers of the journey Child and Mom take on the road to Sarah becoming Aaron. This book can’t help but challenge readers to rethink what they know about gender, sex, family relationships, and themselves. A compelling narrative, this is the best book I’ve read this year.”—OutSmart

What Becomes You is the best memoir I’ve read in a decade. It is close to the bone, poetic without an ounce of sentimentality, full of humor and humanity, and excruciating in its self-examination. . . . This book is what happens when two extraordinary writers share intimate tales of self-discovery in prose that’s both exquisite and accessible.”—Glenn Scofield Williams, JustOut

“Scientist Link begins his fascinating account of gender reassignment by explaining scientific classification. . . . Raz writes of her child with rare and moving candor. . . . Mother and son’s poignant account becomes one of steadfast maternal love in the midst of changes only partly physical. Both knowingly return, always, to the terrain of the heart.”—Booklist

“A blend of essay, memoir and intergenerational dialogue, this title is stranger—and smarter—than the average transsexual memoir. . . . [An] oddly moving, more illuminating and memorable than a straightforward memoir could have been.”—Publishers Weekly Web-Exclusive

“[Link and Raz] continue to surprise and challenge us as they pull from their knowledge of biology and feminism, and fairy tales and psychiatry, to wrestle with understanding Link’s transsexuality. The memoir welcomes readers into a study of the struggles and complexity of relationships in any family.”—Bloomsbury Review

"What Becomes You is the best kind of book. And not just because it’s funny and poetic, honest, personal, carefully researched and detailed, and hugely informative on the subjects of gender and transsexualism. It’s the best kind of book because it challenges readers to grow in the most critical ways. . . . [It] opens the reader to the present moment, to considering and investigating what 'is' instead of what the reader thinks should be. It makes us think before responding in habitual ways to those who are different from us. And in this world, I can’t think of anything that’s much more important than that right now."—Ellen Santasiero, The Source (Bend, OR)

“Throughout, [Link and Raz] place their story in a larger context; the prose, graceful and intelligent, mirrors the breadth of their thought and the depth of their emotion.”—Jesse Hicks, Mid-American Review

What Becomes You is a tranny memoir/rant/documentary that reads like a whirlwind of James Joyce, William S. Burroughs, and Sarah Schulman, delivering a dizzying tour of gender worlds and netherworlds from a multiplicity of viewpoints.”—Kate Bornstein, author of Hello, Cruel World: 101 Alternatives to Suicide for Teens, Freaks, and Other Outlaws

Table of Contents

The Sea
Love Gets Strange
Rebel without a Cause
Burying Ophelia
Not Coming Out
Psychological Considerations
Surgery I
Still Life with Hormones
A Wonderful Life
The Sex Change
Surgery II
The Myth of Fingerprints
My Mother's Ring
The Book and Its Cover
The Letter
Pity and Laughter
Girls Just Want to Have Fun
Reading Garber
Looking at Aaron
Watching Aaron Teach
Three-Minute Autobiography
Discussion Questions

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