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Review of Caroline Cossey, My Story (1992)

Review of Caroline Cossey, My Story (1992)

©1992, 2013 by Dallas Denny

Source: Dallas Denny. (1992). A review of My Story by Caroline Cossey. TV-TS Tapestry, 60, 80-81.

Carolyn Cossey. (1991). My Story. Boston: Faber & Faber.

 

 

 

 

Tapestry Pages (PDF)

 

A Review of My Story by Caroline Cossey

By Dallas Denny

 

We all know who Caroline Cossey is, of course—although some of us do not recognize her actual name. She is better known as Tula, a name which she took on early in her modeling career. Most of us have seen her in ads at some point or other during the last 15 years, not realizing who she was. Many of us met her (briefly) in the James Bond film “For Your Eyes Only.” And many of us saw her in her lovely altogether in the September issue of Playboy magazine, or on television in her recent spate of appearances on talk shows.

Caroline Cossey, then, was and is an international model. Her significance for these pages, however, is that she was once a boy named Barry Cossey.

The fact of Caroline’s gender reassignment was something she quite effectively put behind her, but, alas, her anonymity was not meant to last. A photographer who had known her briefly in the early days, when she was a showgirl, tipped off the British tabloids, and News of the World, that bastion of proper journalism, broke the story with the headline “James Bond Girl Was a Boy;” she was publicly exposed. Being outed had a major effect on her life, negatively impacting her modeling career and eventually destroying her marriage.

So she could tell her side of the story, Caroline rushed a book, Tula: I Am a Woman, in production. Now she has written another, My Story, in which she more fully details her life to date.

Caroline is a good writer. She grabs the reader’s interest as she tells of her years as “Cissy Cossey,” a feminine little boy in the rural English village of Brooke, and holds attention as she describes her eventual escape to London, her life as a showgirl and model, her gender reassignment, and her involvement with the two main men in her life, Glauco Lasinio, an Italian Count, and magnate Elias Fattal, the man who became her husband. She reports the events of her life in a straightforward manner, and matter-of-factly tells us how she felt in each situation. She moves the story on at just the right pace, ending with an account of the legal struggles to have herself officially declared a woman—for, you see, under British law, transsexual people retain the sex assigned to them at birth.

Caroline wisely avoids the self-pity that pervades so many autobiographies of transsexual people. Great unhappiness is apparent, but much of it lies between the lines. Apparent, too, are Caroline’s deep feelings for Fattal, a man who, it must be said, ran home to mummy when he was in his 40s.

I recommend My Story to anyone who is transgendered, and especially for the families of transgendered people, for it is the story of a young boy who dealt head-on with his gender dysphoria, and a woman who has dealt maturely with the negative impact her gender reassignment has had on her life, and who has become somewhat of a crusader on behalf of all transsexual people. When the U.S. version appears, I plan to send a copy to my parents, from whom I am estranged because of my own gender reassignment. Perhaps they will take a lesson from the members of Caroline’s family, who have supported her strongly through the years.

 My Story is published by Faber & Faber of London, which has a subsidiary in Boston. It will be released in February, 1992. (By the way, I would like to thank Margaux Schaffer for being good enough to lend me her advance copy for this review).

Caroline is to be commended for her refusal to kiss and tell, as several British publishers wanted her to. When the paperback U.S. edition appears, it will contain new chapters, describing her re-emergence as a media figure and celebrity, her recent appearances on television, and the Great Atlanta Debacle, in which Mayor Maynard Jackson made a public statement condemning, purely on the basis of her transsexuality, his having awarded her honorary citizenship.

It will be worth the wait.