Why do so many transsexuals write memoirs? Jay Prosser (1998) tackled this question in an original manner by noting that even long before any book was published, for transsexuals, there had been a founding autobiographical act, an act of recounting triggered by an institutional request or demand. Usually, the demand originates
in the clinician’s ofce where in order to be diagnosed as transsexual s/he must recount a transsexual autobiography. The story of a strong, early, and persistent transgendered identication is required by the clinical authorities, the psychiatrists, psychologists, and psychotherapists who traditionally function as gatekeepers to the means of transsexual “conversion.” Whether s/he publishes an autobiography or not, then, every transsexual, as transsexual, is originally an autobiographer. Narrative is also a kind of second skin: the story the transsexual must weave around the body in order that his body may be read. (p. 101)
Despite the accuracy of the observation, Prosser’s quotation may end with the wrong verb. Since most transsexual persons use the verb read to say “guess somebody’s anatomical identity,” which often entails “not to pass,” one might be tempted to say then that transsexuals write both to be read and not to be read.