The First Man-Made Man: The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

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Author:  Pagan Kennedy

Title:  The First Man-Made Man:  The Story of Two Sex Changes, One Love Affair, and a Twentieth-Century Medical Revolution

Genre:  GLBTQ, Non-fiction

Publication Date:  2007

Number of Pages:  224

Geographical Setting:  Great Britain, India

Time Period:  1920s-1960s

Series (If applicable):  N/A

Plot Summary:  Michael Dillon wasn’t the most famous person to undergo gender reassignment surgery, but he was the first.  Born Laura Dillon, Michael spent years feeling as if he had been given the wrong body, and at the age of 24 began seeking out ways to correct this problem, beginning with testosterone pills and continuing through the successful creation of a penis by a noted plastic surgeon.  Despite getting what he wanted, life did not continue on in the easy fashion that he had hoped for—his family disowned him, he fell in love with a male-to-female transgender individual upon whom he performed illegal surgery, and his quest for spiritual enlightenment took some surprising turns.  The leisurely pace makes the story easy to read, and this book features a straightforward writing style and historical details, especially of a medical nature.

Subject Headings:

  • Dillon, Michael, — 1915-1962.
  • Transsexuals — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Sex change — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Gender identity — Great Britain.
  • Cowell, Roberta, — 1918-
  • Transsexualism — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Gender Identity — Great Britain — Biography.
  • Genitalia — surgery — Great Britain.
  • History, 20th Century — Great Britain.
  • Hormone Replacement Therapy — history — Great Britain.
  • Transvestism — Great Britain — Biography.

Appeal:  deliberate, leisurely paced, flawed characters, multiple plot lines, thought-provoking, tragic, historical details, details of medical advancements, accessible, informative, straightforward, compassionate

3 appeal terms that best describe this book:  straightforward, informative, historical details

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

She’s Not There: A Life in Two Genders—Jennifer Finney Boylan:  This book also tells the story of a person changing genders, but it’s a memoir and provides a personal look at the process.

As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl—John Colapinto:  Examines similar gender issues, but looks at them through the story of, as the subtitle states, a boy who was raised as a girl from birth, complete with surgery to make him appear anatomically female.

Fun Home:  A Family Tragicomic–Alison Bechdel:  This graphic memoir examines family dynamics through the story of the author’s coming out as a lesbian to her closeted gay father, who commits suicide soon after.  Both of these books deal with issues of sexuality and gender.

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Middlesex—Jeffrey Eugenides:  This novel explores a secret family history that has led to Callie’s existence as an intersex individual.  Much like Michael Dillon, she has always felt something was off, and has to decide how to proceed.

Stone Butch Blues—Leslie Feinberg:  The main character, Jess, is living as a man in the 1960’s and 1970’s, dealing with society’s pressures and prejudices.   This book has themes of identity and community that relate it to The First Man Made Man.

Sacred Country—Rose Tremain:  Follows Mary through decades of her life as she attempts to change her gender, and deals with issues of identity and loneliness.

Name:  Amanda

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