Thursday, September 27, 2007

Book Review: From Leonard To Leona

Over the years, women I have encountered in the course of my life have told me that child-bearing is the most intense experience that a woman will ever have - it inflicts extreme pain and its fruit is immensely satisfying.

For the transsexual, that same experience is the journey from manhood from womanhood (or vice versa).

Indeed, most of us know a lot about motherhood but very little about the life of being a daughter without the capacity to ever really be a mother.

It was this desire to learn more that prompted me to invest in a copy of Leona Lo's book, From Leonard to Leona: a Singapore transsexual's journey to womanhood.

But I was totally unpreprared for the emotional roller-coaster that I'd be going on.

While it is possible to read this book in one sitting, the sheer amount of emotions and personalities running through this book immobilised me such that I had to read this book over three sittings, with a day's break in between each.

There is the student who never finds a place among friends. There is the Christian search for truth. There is the child sexually abused. There is the grandson, nephew brother and son that never was. There is also the patient that undergoes an invasive life-threatening surgery.

There are the incomplete lovers. There are the cynical cold public servants. There are the sucky systems of society.

Simply put, there was just too much to swallow!

In spite of all these, the character that is Leona prevails or perhaps, more appropriately, unveils herself in her unique blend of humour and horror.

Leonard Lo's journey to be Leona Lo is a landmark contribution to the understanding of a lesser-known community in Singapore; a class of people within a class that the armed forces of this country has bastardised as "302".

Its premise has a familiar famishness that many a minority will relate to. Its ending has a sweet success that many a freedom fighter will relish.

From Leonard To Leona is a soulful story of hope and promise that should be read.

Dharmendra Yadav

Please consider the environment - do you really need to print this?

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