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As a Woman: What I Learned about Power, Sex, and the Patriarchy after I Transitioned

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This moving and unforgettable memoir of a transgender pastor’s transition from male to female is an “audacious, gripping, and profoundly real journey that speaks to the mind, heart, and soul” (Joshua J. Dickson, director of Faith Based Initiatives, Biden Campaign)—perfect for fans of Redefining Realness and There Is Room for You. As a father of three, married to a wonderful This moving and unforgettable memoir of a transgender pastor’s transition from male to female is an “audacious, gripping, and profoundly real journey that speaks to the mind, heart, and soul” (Joshua J. Dickson, director of Faith Based Initiatives, Biden Campaign)—perfect for fans of Redefining Realness and There Is Room for You. As a father of three, married to a wonderful woman, and holding several prominent jobs within the Christian community, Dr. Paula Stone Williams made the life-changing decision to physically transition from male to female at the age of sixty. Almost instantly, her power and influence in the evangelical world disappeared and her family had to grapple with intense feelings of loss and confusion. Feeling utterly alone after being expelled from the evangelical churches she had once spearheaded, Paula struggled to create a new safe space for herself where she could reconcile her faith, her identity, and her desire to be a leader. Much to her surprise, the key to her new career as a woman came with a deeper awareness of the inequities she had overlooked before her transition. Where her opinions were once celebrated and amplified, now she found herself sidelined and ignored. New questions emerged. Why are women’s opinions devalued in favor of men’s? Why does love and intimacy feel so different? And, was it possible to find a new spirituality in her own image? In As a Woman, Paula’s “critical questions about gender, personhood, and place are relevant to anyone. Her writing insightfully reveals aspects of our gender socialization and culture that often go unexamined, but that need to be talked about, challenged, and changed” (Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her) in order to fully understand what it means to be male, female, and simply, human.


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This moving and unforgettable memoir of a transgender pastor’s transition from male to female is an “audacious, gripping, and profoundly real journey that speaks to the mind, heart, and soul” (Joshua J. Dickson, director of Faith Based Initiatives, Biden Campaign)—perfect for fans of Redefining Realness and There Is Room for You. As a father of three, married to a wonderful This moving and unforgettable memoir of a transgender pastor’s transition from male to female is an “audacious, gripping, and profoundly real journey that speaks to the mind, heart, and soul” (Joshua J. Dickson, director of Faith Based Initiatives, Biden Campaign)—perfect for fans of Redefining Realness and There Is Room for You. As a father of three, married to a wonderful woman, and holding several prominent jobs within the Christian community, Dr. Paula Stone Williams made the life-changing decision to physically transition from male to female at the age of sixty. Almost instantly, her power and influence in the evangelical world disappeared and her family had to grapple with intense feelings of loss and confusion. Feeling utterly alone after being expelled from the evangelical churches she had once spearheaded, Paula struggled to create a new safe space for herself where she could reconcile her faith, her identity, and her desire to be a leader. Much to her surprise, the key to her new career as a woman came with a deeper awareness of the inequities she had overlooked before her transition. Where her opinions were once celebrated and amplified, now she found herself sidelined and ignored. New questions emerged. Why are women’s opinions devalued in favor of men’s? Why does love and intimacy feel so different? And, was it possible to find a new spirituality in her own image? In As a Woman, Paula’s “critical questions about gender, personhood, and place are relevant to anyone. Her writing insightfully reveals aspects of our gender socialization and culture that often go unexamined, but that need to be talked about, challenged, and changed” (Soraya Chemaly, author of Rage Becomes Her) in order to fully understand what it means to be male, female, and simply, human.

30 review for As a Woman: What I Learned about Power, Sex, and the Patriarchy after I Transitioned

  1. 5 out of 5

    Erin

    Giveaway Win! 3.5 Stars! This is the type of book that makes you think. I'm not Trans and I'm not white, so I obviously can only view this story through my own life experiences and point of view. Paula Stone Williams has a truly enthralling life story. She grew up in an extremely conservative evangelical family and she would go on to become an evangelical pastor. She married young and is the father of 3 children. Her grandkids call her GramPaula. She spent years trying to deny that she was Transg Giveaway Win! 3.5 Stars! This is the type of book that makes you think. I'm not Trans and I'm not white, so I obviously can only view this story through my own life experiences and point of view. Paula Stone Williams has a truly enthralling life story. She grew up in an extremely conservative evangelical family and she would go on to become an evangelical pastor. She married young and is the father of 3 children. Her grandkids call her GramPaula. She spent years trying to deny that she was Transgender but eventually she made the brave decision to finally live life as a woman. And to say Paula was naive would be an understatement. Paula expected her conservative evangelical community to accept her....They did not. Paula expected to be treated with the same respect as a woman that she was as a man..She found out that women, especially older women are treated not great. Paula is a very likeable if oblivious person. She talks about how different she now is as a woman and how awful the patriarchy is..While telling women how they should feel and act. Paula tends to generalize the genders. There was a lot of "Women like this, while men like this" It was annoying. You would think that a Trans woman would understand that putting genders in little boxes is not okay. As I said I liked Paula but she was giving me Old White Woman Feminism and that's not a good thing. She does point out that white men and women have a privilege that Non white people don't have. She never acknowledges that her ability to "pass" as a woman also gives her a huge amount of privilege. She just casually mentions that she had facial surgery to look more feminine. She never mentions that most Transgender people dont have that privilege or even that you dont need to "pass" to be Trans. She at times made being a woman sound like Cosplay. I don't know how many times she wrote that "women" dress like this and "men" dress like that. And she lamented the fact that she can't wear the same shoes or pants she wore when she was living as man... Why cant she? If you liked those "mens" shoes and pants then wear them. My favorite pair of pants are from the mens department...they have pockets and for some reason women aren't allowed to have pockets. That was really my only problem with the book and it's the reason I didn't rate the book higher. I still enjoyed this book and I would read more books by her. I also need to watch her TEDTALK. I realize that I'm not the target audience for this book. I think its meant more for middle to upper middle class white people but I did learn some things and I would recommend it to people in the target demographic.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Dawn Michelle

    As someone who has never had the desire to be anything other than a woman, there was a lot to unpack, and Ms. Williams does it very well, even the parts that I didn't agree with [based on her belief system and religion]. I find, that as I read books about the Transgender community, my empathy grows for those who struggle in the body they were born in. I may never understand it, but I want to be as empathetic as one can be and the only way to get there is to read stories such as Paula Stone Willi As someone who has never had the desire to be anything other than a woman, there was a lot to unpack, and Ms. Williams does it very well, even the parts that I didn't agree with [based on her belief system and religion]. I find, that as I read books about the Transgender community, my empathy grows for those who struggle in the body they were born in. I may never understand it, but I want to be as empathetic as one can be and the only way to get there is to read stories such as Paula Stone Williams' story and grow in the knowledge that they are sharing. Also, as someone who grew up in evangelicalism [and suffered at the hands of several pastors and elders of the church], it was interesting to see someone from evangelicalism both come out and transition, and to see how she dealt with some of the things that happened because of her transition. Some of the things she dealt with during her initial transition [along with my own issues] are why I no longer belong to or consider myself an evangelical, and why she also is not a part of evangelicalism. It was also interesting to see how much she worked to make sure both her wife [as a man, she was married to a woman for over 41 years and has three children] and children were treated correctly as all this happened; she showed so much grace to her family as they worked through her transition and I think that is what has enabled them to all have the amazing relationship they have today [her son does talks with her and is head of the first LBGTQ+ evangelical church]. I was really impressed with that part of the story - they ended up working as a family to make their family stay together, and I found that impressive. You could hear the passion she has both for the church and for her family and children in her narration and I am so glad I waited for the audiobook for this one as hearing Ms. Williams read her story made it truly come alive for me. Very well done!! Thank you to NetGalley, Paula Stone Williams, and Atria Books for providing this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cari

    I was completely consumed by Stone Williams' memoir of her life as a man and her transition. Stone Williams was a pastor and deeply invested in the evangelical community - she built churches, worked as a pastoral counselor, and spoke all over the nation. That changed when she felt the call to transition into the body of a woman. She was immediately ostracized and had to find her own way as a pastor and as a woman. Her journey is so nuanced, her writing wise and beautiful. Her view of God and her I was completely consumed by Stone Williams' memoir of her life as a man and her transition. Stone Williams was a pastor and deeply invested in the evangelical community - she built churches, worked as a pastoral counselor, and spoke all over the nation. That changed when she felt the call to transition into the body of a woman. She was immediately ostracized and had to find her own way as a pastor and as a woman. Her journey is so nuanced, her writing wise and beautiful. Her view of God and her own gender has changed over her years of life, and I believe she can teach all of us important lessons. Thanks to Edelweiss for the early copy - I will definitely return to this book to review Stone Williams' insights.

  4. 5 out of 5

    a duck

    ** I received an advance review copy for free through a Goodreads Giveaway Stone Williams’ “As A Woman” is a fascinating insight into the difficult process of transitioning genders and losing privilege in a society dominated by misogynistic standards and transphobic views. I came at this book knowing nothing about the author or her journey, but I was amazed to find how much it impacted me from the very first chapter. As a devout Catholic and bisexual woman, Williams’ struggles to fit into her Chu ** I received an advance review copy for free through a Goodreads Giveaway Stone Williams’ “As A Woman” is a fascinating insight into the difficult process of transitioning genders and losing privilege in a society dominated by misogynistic standards and transphobic views. I came at this book knowing nothing about the author or her journey, but I was amazed to find how much it impacted me from the very first chapter. As a devout Catholic and bisexual woman, Williams’ struggles to fit into her Church while coming to terms with her gender identity both personally and publicly resonated with me on a deep personal level. I was so excited to see another woman in the LGBTQ+ community who maintained her relationship with her faith throughout her coming out, while also exploring the ways in which the Church that had once accepted her became a source of discrimination and pain. Further, I found her accounts of the loss of privilege from her time presenting as man to the days when she presented as a woman to be incredibly interesting, and would recommend anyone read this book if only to gain insight into these comparisons. It is astounding, especially when presented from Williams’ point of view, how different everyday life can be for men and women in the US. I did, however, have some issues with the book. Williams presents some fascinating and salient ideas, but there are several passages where her writing style is choppy and discontinuous. The overall flow of the book is interrupted by short, staccato sentences and marred by repetition. Sometimes she presents an idea and quickly pivots to a different anecdote or theme, leaving the reader behind wondering how exactly she got there. I wish the book had been structured a bit better to allow the many ideas that Williams discusses to shine through more.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Levi Pierpont

    Update: I read the top review on this book, and I want to respond to it. Here's the part that really made me think, with my thoughts in brackets. "Paula is a very likeable if oblivious person. She talks about how different she now is as a woman and how awful the patriarchy is..While telling women how they should feel and act [I did notice this, to an extent]. Paula tends to generalize the genders. There was a lot of "Women like this, while men like this" It was annoying. You would think that a Tr Update: I read the top review on this book, and I want to respond to it. Here's the part that really made me think, with my thoughts in brackets. "Paula is a very likeable if oblivious person. She talks about how different she now is as a woman and how awful the patriarchy is..While telling women how they should feel and act [I did notice this, to an extent]. Paula tends to generalize the genders. There was a lot of "Women like this, while men like this" It was annoying. You would think that a Trans woman would understand that putting genders in little boxes is not okay. [One can never underestimate the impact of books like Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, and Love and Respect on folks from Paula's generation, despite they're being released more than a decade apart. The fact is, trans folks are still affirming the binary, which is fine, they have every right to do that, but sometimes trans people, particularly trans people who are a little older, have a tendency to be just as gender-stereotyping as cis people. While this can be frustrating, it's easy for me to understand, and I know that, while Stone Williams might be a little too binary-heavy for many young readers' tastes, she would stand up for a non-binary or gender non-conforming person any day.] As I said I liked Paula but she was giving me Old White Woman Feminism and that's not a good thing. She does point out that white men and women have a privilege that Non white people don't have. She never acknowledges that her ability to "pass" as a woman also gives her a huge amount of privilege [this was definitely an issue]. She just casually mentions that she had facial surgery to look more feminine [yeah, it felt weird when she wrote about it without acknowledging how impossible that is for lots of folks]. She never mentions that most Transgender people dont have that privilege or even that you dont need to "pass" to be Trans. She at times made being a woman sound like Cosplay [yes, but again, this sort of makes sense, given her perspective]." Overall, I agree with this reviewer's perspective, but I left my review at five stars, because I still loved this book, and it definitely deserved it. Now for my review: This book was everything I wanted and needed it to be. It was a thoughtful and oftentimes humorous exploration of White, male privilege, and a powerful encouragement to continue listening to the call of authenticity, believing it to be "sacred, and holy, and for the greater good." Not only does Paula--and I am, for once, using an author's first name because I've met her and she is just a very kind person--express a lot of the feelings that I've had coming out and leaving the conservative Evangelical church, she also talks about G-d and Jesus in a way that tugs at my heart and reminds me just how much my Christian roots still matter to me. And, all the while, she is so self-aware. She expresses a bit of annoyance with her past self for ignoring the male privilege she sees so clearly now, and I have a lot of respect for her for leaning into that message. There's even a part, near the end of the book, where she mentions her life having been difficult, and then says something to the extent of, "and I know, life's been difficult for all of us." No part of this book is her trying to win your pity, or the "oppression olympics" as it is often deemed by hyper right-wingers. She often points to specific moments during her transition process in which she admits to being overly self-focused, although I think anyone can forgive a person for being self-focused during such a period. The one thing I wish she expressed more self-awareness of would be her relative wealth. Wealth is one of those things that just makes life easier, and gender transitions are no exceptions. She doesn't ignore this, but she seems about 90% focused on the gender disparity, 9% focused on the race disparity that obviously has not changed for her, and 1% on the class disparity. I don't blame her, though, because I trust that if this is what she chose to focus on, this is how her life experience has presented the problems to her. And obviously the emphasis on the gender disparity is born out of the fact that she genuinely understands and has lived both sides of it, whereas, the wealth has always been there. She says she "wasn't born with a silver spoon" in her mouth, but "there were plenty of spoons nearby." And maybe if I had come out later in life, I could have snuck off the family farm with a few more spoons in the two backpacks I went to community college with the day I left home. All in all, this book was somehow even better than what I was expecting, and I read it in like a day and a half, listening on 2x speed while shopping, working out, and working on numbers-stuff at work. 10/10, would recommend to any Christian and/or trans ally. ___________________________________________________ So excited to read this memoir! If you are not familiar with Williams, watch her TED Talk! It will make you want to read this. Also, I can't help but remember when she spoke at a conference I attended, and read Wild Geese by Mary Oliver. It was the first time I had heard the poem, and the first I'd heard of Mary Oliver, and it was only months later that she died. That memory has always had a special place in my heart, especially the more I've come to love Mary Oliver and many of her other works. Put this book on your tbr, it's gonna be a good one!

  6. 5 out of 5

    Eugene Galt

    As an LGBTQ person and an ex-independent fundamental Baptist, I figured I had to read this. The stories of the evangelical pastor’s transgender journey and of her different experiences in society as Paul and as Paula are absorbing, and the author displays levels of self-awareness and of empathy for those affected by her transition that are the highest I’ve seen in trans writing, fiction or nonfiction. However, the author talks in the languages of seventies middle-class feminism and fluffy-bunny As an LGBTQ person and an ex-independent fundamental Baptist, I figured I had to read this. The stories of the evangelical pastor’s transgender journey and of her different experiences in society as Paul and as Paula are absorbing, and the author displays levels of self-awareness and of empathy for those affected by her transition that are the highest I’ve seen in trans writing, fiction or nonfiction. However, the author talks in the languages of seventies middle-class feminism and fluffy-bunny Christianity that can make the book drag.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Cavak

    Okay. Wow. When I first opened this book, my intent was reading about someone's life story. What is it she has to say and why. Admittedly, most of my gut interest was through the title and that it was listed as LGBTQ+. And that fabulous woman on the cover. Blind interest away! So I did not expect to learn as much as I did while reading. Or to be as moved as I was. I cannot remember the last time I read a LGBTQ+ written work that addresses religion with such humility. Often the author or main charac Okay. Wow. When I first opened this book, my intent was reading about someone's life story. What is it she has to say and why. Admittedly, most of my gut interest was through the title and that it was listed as LGBTQ+. And that fabulous woman on the cover. Blind interest away! So I did not expect to learn as much as I did while reading. Or to be as moved as I was. I cannot remember the last time I read a LGBTQ+ written work that addresses religion with such humility. Often the author or main characters are secular, and religious figures are often cardboard cutouts. Sometimes religion is used as a scapegoat for why someone may not be allowed to prosper. But despite being born and raised in an emotionally toxic environment, Paula doesn't do that. Of course, she acknowledges that there are flaws and highlights the ostracization she went through herself. Even key moments of skepticism when she cried "Oh God, why?" at her lowest points. Yet somehow she keeps her faith. She shares her faith. Really, that's a good summary of this entire memoir. Paula shares, and she does it with the grace of someone who's still living to tell it. She doesn't expect everyone who has read her book to be kind or forgiving to her life choices. She shares in the hopes that somehow it will help the ones who really need it. To tell them they are not alone. To lend a gesture of kindness to the ones who want to emphasize and may not know how. When I realized that this was still being written during the pandemic lockdown last year, I'm blown away at how recent the reactions to her transition truly is and the emotional processing she has been going through since then. That she managed to get such a personal book written and published to this length at all is amazing. That's pretty powerful stuff to me. As a Woman probably isn't going to win any writer's awards for its craft. The writing is brief and very casual, sometimes a bit repetitive in the second half. Please do give this book a chance if you're open to learning and listening to a world view that may not be your own. You might have a nice takeaway from Paula's thoughtfulness. Or you know, visit the likely reasons why she got a book deal. Watch the Tedx Talks with her as a speaker or read her blog if you can't get the book but would like to support her family anyway. I'm sure she'd appreciate that. I received the book for free through Goodreads Giveaways.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Beth Shultz

    This book is not good at all. And that is all I'm going to say. This book is not good at all. And that is all I'm going to say.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Penny

    I read this after hearing Paula Stone Williams being interviewed on NPR. Williams grew up a boy but always knew she was in the wrong body. Her family was enmeshed in the evangelical church, her father a pastor as she would go on to be. Despite her own feelings, for far too long she espoused her church’s message about gays and transgender people – an aberration and not welcome. As a boy and young man she liked girls, got married young and at every point of her life thought that would be the point I read this after hearing Paula Stone Williams being interviewed on NPR. Williams grew up a boy but always knew she was in the wrong body. Her family was enmeshed in the evangelical church, her father a pastor as she would go on to be. Despite her own feelings, for far too long she espoused her church’s message about gays and transgender people – an aberration and not welcome. As a boy and young man she liked girls, got married young and at every point of her life thought that would be the point at which she could really embrace the body she was born in. Not long after marriage she confided in Cathy her wife. Together they had three children and not until the children were grown and living independently did Paula decide to transition, with Cathy’s blessing. Williams had thought the church would allow her to ease out gently and was shocked when she was immediately dismissed. All her income gone, her life changed in a way she had not totally anticipated. But she went on to co-found a new and more welcoming church (for some reason not given it’s real name, but a quick google search unearths it). The story is fascinating particularly in the way that she is treated after transitioning. Of course she knew about male privilege in theory, and was by all accounts a humble man, compassionate and kind to all, but only when she is herself female does she realise how extensive such privilege is. Many parts of this memoir were both thought provoking and interesting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jesse

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I picked this book up due to the uniqueness of her position as an evangelical leader. Spoiler alert, I guess: they don’t accept her transition and fire her after 35 years of service. The book other than that was a relatively typical life story for a woman her age and race who transitioned late in life. The thing that really frustrated me about this book was that she used a lot of ideas that are relatively specific to one person or group of people she did not credit. The most obvious was using the I picked this book up due to the uniqueness of her position as an evangelical leader. Spoiler alert, I guess: they don’t accept her transition and fire her after 35 years of service. The book other than that was a relatively typical life story for a woman her age and race who transitioned late in life. The thing that really frustrated me about this book was that she used a lot of ideas that are relatively specific to one person or group of people she did not credit. The most obvious was using the term vulnerability hangover without crediting Brené Brown. But also she managed to make all these revelations about how women were treated without once bringing up the second wave movement of feminism which brought up all these things in the 70s and 80s.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    I had mixed feelings about this book …it was very repetitious, but also moving. Sometimes I was aggravated by the flowery language and found listening hard due to that language expressed in her sweet style (I listened and read to help with that aspect). I was intending to give it two stars until I heard chapter 15, “Dying Before Dying”, a detailed and heartfelt goodbye to Paul.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Howard

    Such a good book. Everyone should read this book, transgender or not. It's not just about that. It's about love, acceptance, life, and spirituality. The last chapter made me cry. Very moving. . .the whole book. Such a good book. Everyone should read this book, transgender or not. It's not just about that. It's about love, acceptance, life, and spirituality. The last chapter made me cry. Very moving. . .the whole book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kate Nelson

    3.5 stars. I thought this was a well-written and compelling account of the author’s journey as a transgender woman. Her pain in rejection by the evangelical Christian church was real, as were her accounts of her faith now. That perspective was extremely unique and I’m glad I read it. My harshest critique with this book is that it is extremely binary. Especially in a book published in 2021, I expected at least acknowledgement (and really content surrounding) that nonbinary people exist, that not 3.5 stars. I thought this was a well-written and compelling account of the author’s journey as a transgender woman. Her pain in rejection by the evangelical Christian church was real, as were her accounts of her faith now. That perspective was extremely unique and I’m glad I read it. My harshest critique with this book is that it is extremely binary. Especially in a book published in 2021, I expected at least acknowledgement (and really content surrounding) that nonbinary people exist, that not all trans people transition physically, that transition isn’t so easy as a “before” and “after.”

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Paula's TED Talk is one of my favorites of all time. Her insights to life as a privileged white male, then as a white female are insightful, clear, and spot on!!! When I heard she was writing a book, I knew I wanted to read it -- to understand her story from her perspective. I also wanted to hear more about how she saw differences between genders in leadership roles. The book did not disappoint. Not one bit. I learned more about being transgender: how it feels, what it means and doesn't mean, an Paula's TED Talk is one of my favorites of all time. Her insights to life as a privileged white male, then as a white female are insightful, clear, and spot on!!! When I heard she was writing a book, I knew I wanted to read it -- to understand her story from her perspective. I also wanted to hear more about how she saw differences between genders in leadership roles. The book did not disappoint. Not one bit. I learned more about being transgender: how it feels, what it means and doesn't mean, and how you know -- that deep knowing. I also learned, or perhaps validated, a great deal of what I know to be true about parenting responsibilities between genders and being a strong female who usually steps into leadership roles. The differences Paula saw between Paul and Paula are riveting. And instructional. And validating. I own the book. Bought it at full price 4 days after it hit shelves, the first day it hit the bookstore in my city. I will definitely read it again!! I wish Paula love, joy, light, and peace. Thank you for taking the time and undergoing the effort to write this.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Bri

    This memoir was a fantastic read! Paula Stone Williams writes about her life as a transgender woman, her struggles, successes, and the differences and inequalities of men and women. A perspective that was super interesting to learn about. Totally recommend putting this on your TBR list!

  16. 5 out of 5

    L E

    Thank you Goodreads, author and publisher for the free advanced copy. I have been wanting to read a book by a transgender woman about her journey, what it was like presenting as a man versus a woman regarding how society treated her. Very interesting and validating.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Paige Holmes

    This is a compelling and readable account of transition and its many effects and repercussions. Paula is a vulnerable and personable narrator, and I found it hard to put the book down. The intersection of Christianity/religion in general and LGBTQ+ identity is explored well and worth a read, even if the rest of the book isn't of interest to you. I'll leave you with my favorite quotes: [upon public announcement of her transition] The differences between evangelical and nonevangelical responses was This is a compelling and readable account of transition and its many effects and repercussions. Paula is a vulnerable and personable narrator, and I found it hard to put the book down. The intersection of Christianity/religion in general and LGBTQ+ identity is explored well and worth a read, even if the rest of the book isn't of interest to you. I'll leave you with my favorite quotes: [upon public announcement of her transition] The differences between evangelical and nonevangelical responses was striking. Nonevangelical comments were 99 percent positive. Ninety percent of evangelical comments were negative. . . . When I came out I assumed my friends and acquaintances would think, I guess I don't know enough about what it means to be transgender; because I certainly know Paul's character. I need to study up on this issue. Surely people would not conclude, Oh my, I must have been wrong about Paul's character. But the latter is exactly what thousands of evangelicals thought. As an evangelical, I was taught that love is self-sacrifice. Love is not self-sacrifice. You cannot love well if you sacrifice who you are. Love is extending yourself for the sake of another. It is nurturing your own growth and caring for your own soul so that you might extend love more fully to another.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Bev Sturgis

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The story of Paul (Paula) Williams. since Paul's earliest memories he has felt that he was a female even though his body was male. He is raised in a conservative Evangelical family where any diversion would have serious consequences. He marries young, within the church, and they raise a family of a son and two daughters together. Paul becomes a major player nationwide in the Evangelical movement, and remains there until decades later when he feels that he must transition. Of course, things fall The story of Paul (Paula) Williams. since Paul's earliest memories he has felt that he was a female even though his body was male. He is raised in a conservative Evangelical family where any diversion would have serious consequences. He marries young, within the church, and they raise a family of a son and two daughters together. Paul becomes a major player nationwide in the Evangelical movement, and remains there until decades later when he feels that he must transition. Of course, things fall apart. Paula and her wife divorce but remain friends, Paula loses her positions in the Evangelical community and becomes associated with more liberal, accepting religious communities to continue her work. Much of the book contains Paula's insights into what it is to be a woman rather than a man in relation to authority and influence in the workplace.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tyffany

    Paula Williams has got that pastoral voice; a kind rhetorical voice honed by the years in front of a congregation giving guidance to weather storm. There's a lot of little bits of things to consider for every perspective in what felt like a collection of essays formatted to be chronological. Yes there's repetition but don't we need to read things a couple times to really get the idea? I didn't mind at all the same story from another view repeated. I felt some very deep relief through some of Paul Paula Williams has got that pastoral voice; a kind rhetorical voice honed by the years in front of a congregation giving guidance to weather storm. There's a lot of little bits of things to consider for every perspective in what felt like a collection of essays formatted to be chronological. Yes there's repetition but don't we need to read things a couple times to really get the idea? I didn't mind at all the same story from another view repeated. I felt some very deep relief through some of Paula's writing of her experience. The writing was so clearly expressive of pain and loneliness. Reflective in the experience, like a counselor, bearing witness and identifying the path. I gave 4 stars because I think there's more inside this author than memoir given some time. Could she be nemesis to Jordan Peterson? Or perhaps a more clinical writer to transitional counseling?

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lorena

    Reading Paula’s story has helped me understand gender dysphoria and gender transition. I appreciate her sharing her story with such honesty and compassion. I also appreciated her discussions of privilege and gender inequality. I think she overgeneralizes about men and women, but many of her observations rang true. My only frustration with this book is how it is organized. The chapters read like essays on different topics. I sometimes found the story hard to follow because the chapters weren’t qui Reading Paula’s story has helped me understand gender dysphoria and gender transition. I appreciate her sharing her story with such honesty and compassion. I also appreciated her discussions of privilege and gender inequality. I think she overgeneralizes about men and women, but many of her observations rang true. My only frustration with this book is how it is organized. The chapters read like essays on different topics. I sometimes found the story hard to follow because the chapters weren’t quite in chronological order, and there was quite a bit of repetition between them. Overall, I found this an interesting and enjoyable read. I was provided an unproofed ARC through NetGalley that I volunteered to review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    3.5 stars. I was really excited to read this, but ended up a little disappointed by this memoir, mostly because the first half dragged a lot and wasn't as engaging as I'd like. I absolutely adored her TED talk, but I think all the best information was in the TED talk, so I'd say skip this and watch her talks instead. She has wonderful insight in the treatment of men vs women (which you can find in her talks) which was the highlight of this book for me. I really appreciated her talking about how m 3.5 stars. I was really excited to read this, but ended up a little disappointed by this memoir, mostly because the first half dragged a lot and wasn't as engaging as I'd like. I absolutely adored her TED talk, but I think all the best information was in the TED talk, so I'd say skip this and watch her talks instead. She has wonderful insight in the treatment of men vs women (which you can find in her talks) which was the highlight of this book for me. I really appreciated her talking about how much privilege she had as a white man, and how she didn't realize the full extent of her privilege until AFTER her transition.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Isaiah

    I got an ARC of this book. So I’m trans and this book just didn’t do it for me. Deadnaming herself twice in the introduction was just the top of the iceberg. This was just another throw away memoir so cis people can feel like they know a trans person. “Born in the wrong body” and a lot of the other ways that the author describes being trans aren’t accurate. At one point the author calls transitioning a “trauma”. Transitions may be tough and horrible things may happen, but transitions are not trau I got an ARC of this book. So I’m trans and this book just didn’t do it for me. Deadnaming herself twice in the introduction was just the top of the iceberg. This was just another throw away memoir so cis people can feel like they know a trans person. “Born in the wrong body” and a lot of the other ways that the author describes being trans aren’t accurate. At one point the author calls transitioning a “trauma”. Transitions may be tough and horrible things may happen, but transitions are not trauma.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Zach Brozowski

    I believe most men would benefit from reading the third part of this. I had a few conversations about the privileges I take for granted and think I learned a few things I should look out for as a white male. I should have expected all of the talk related to religion given the author's background. Unfortunately I feel like the title should have been "What I learned about Religion, Sex, the Patriarchy and Power" in that order as those seem to be main focus of the book. Still really enjoyed it! Will I believe most men would benefit from reading the third part of this. I had a few conversations about the privileges I take for granted and think I learned a few things I should look out for as a white male. I should have expected all of the talk related to religion given the author's background. Unfortunately I feel like the title should have been "What I learned about Religion, Sex, the Patriarchy and Power" in that order as those seem to be main focus of the book. Still really enjoyed it! Will watch her TED talks next!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ann Clay

    I enjoyed the first half of the book. The descriptions of what it feels like to be trans were very instructive and helpful to my understanding. But the last third (at least) was a chore. Way too much religion for me. And she seemed to repeat herself a lot. I kept thinking I’d already read a section when indeed I had not. Read the first half if you like. Don’t be afraid to put it down after that.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Katy

    Williams shares a lot about her journey. She speaks about the cultural differences that arise when living as a woman verses living as a man. But more than anything, what I will take with me is the language she uses to describe her calling to live authentically as her true self, to let her life speak.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    So wonderful to listen to an audiobook read by a trans woman!! That said, some content was odd to me - being pretty uncritical of the church/religious institutions, taking on a lot of blame at the "unfairness" of her transition to her wife and children in an odd way - overall I enjoyed it, but the author definitely comes across a moderate/vaguely conservative person. So wonderful to listen to an audiobook read by a trans woman!! That said, some content was odd to me - being pretty uncritical of the church/religious institutions, taking on a lot of blame at the "unfairness" of her transition to her wife and children in an odd way - overall I enjoyed it, but the author definitely comes across a moderate/vaguely conservative person.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    I’m very glad I read it. Paula’s story of her early life and her later transition are very well written and told. She doesn’t tell too much or too little - it’s just right. I liked it. The last quarter of the book is a lot of reflection on how our culture treats men and women as well as her reflections on the evangelical world that Paul had lived in. I’m very glad I read it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Judy Gacek

    I knew very little about people that feel trapped in the wrong body. For that reason the book was worth reading as I gained some insight into people that want to transition. I enjoyed the authors views on power, sex and religion. I would like to know more about what his wife thought about there long marriage. I think it would be a good jumping off point for book clubs. Lots of issues to discuss

  29. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    4.5 I came away from reading this memoir with deep respect and awe for Paula and her journey. Her perspective of the benefits she received when she lived as Paul is fascinating. Paula’s deep compassion and understanding for herself and everyone in her life is compelling and is a window into her character.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Kara

    I found this a very interesting journey. The influence of family, even when you know something is wrong, can keep you on a path not chosen by yourself for so long. Paula was so naïve about how life would be as a woman but it was fascinating watching her work through the actual experience.

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