Catch up on incredible memoir by Philippa Ryder sharing her journey as a Trans woman

If you missed My Name Is Philippa when it was published, there's no better time to catch up.

A smiling woman holding a book

Pop culture guru David Ferguson returns with a look at a memoir by Philippa Ryder that you may have missed.

I have met Philippa Ryder a couple of times at Octocon, the Irish Science Fiction convention, and knew a little bit of her unique story. So when I heard she had written a book about her life, I was instantly interested in reading it.

As with many books, however, I had left it on the shelf until some time off and, with some family going through some of the things I knew Philippa would be covering that I wanted to understand better, it spurred me on to get reading.

Quick review: it was so well written and was so engaging that I read it in one sitting.

Obvioulsy, while not all Trans people’s experiences will be the same (something Philippa points out repeatedly in the book), Philippa goes through a lot of the universal issues they may encounter up to and including gender affirmation surgery and her life afterwards. What this book does is put the human side to certain issues. It is a flaw in some people, myself included, that they ignore issues or don’t fully empathise with people going through them until they know someone dealing with them.

Philippa goes through her childhood and discovering, like everyone in the LGBTQ+ community, the feelings of being different. Her journey through work, meeting the love of her life, Helen, through their shared love of science fiction and becoming a parent to Jenny. All along there was her feeling of wanting to dress en femme (as she puts it). She details her discovery of other Trans people, her experiences in gay clubs and tells her story in a, sometimes surprisingly, honest fashion.

There are the hurdles that the medical profession has in place, working through how her transition will impact her legally and with work and having to journey to England for her surgery. And through this she was working with Trans groups to campaign for other herself and other Trans people. But it was the emotional parts that resonated with me – dealing with telling friends and family and managing to hold her family together.

On a personal level, I’d like to thank Philippa for her work for the Yes side of the Marriage Equality Referendum and say that I am happy that she re-joined the science fiction community. I’ll be hoping to see her at Octocon again this year where she will be one of the Guests of Honour.

A thoroughly engaging book and I know a few people that it will certainly help.

You can check out more of David Ferguson’s pop culture musings here.

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