in conversation with Thomas Peele
This Body I Wore
An Online Event
Mon., May 30th • 6:00pm PT
A captivating memoir of one woman’s long journey to late transition, as the trans community emerges alongside her.
Long before Laverne Cox appeared on the cover of Time, far removed from drag and ballroom culture, there were countless trans women living and dying as men, most of whom didn’t even know they were trans. Diana Goetsch’s This Body I Wore chronicles one woman’s long journey to coming out, a path that runs parallel to the emergence of the trans community over the past several decades.
“How can you spend your life face-to-face with an essential truth about yourself and still not see it?” This is a question often asked of trans people, and a question that Goetsch, an award-winning poet and essayist, addresses with the power and complexity of lived reality. She brings us into her childhood, her time as a dynamic and beloved teacher at Stuyvesant High School, and her plunge into the crossdressing subculture of New York in the 1980s and ’90s. Under cover of night, crossdressers risked their jobs and their safety to give expression to urges they could neither control nor understand. Many of them would become late transitioners, the Cinderellas of the trans community largely ignored by history.
Goetsch has not written a transition memoir, but rather a full account of a trans life, one both unusually public and closeted. All too often trans lives are reduced to before-and-after photos, but what if that before photo lasted fifty years?
Diana Goetsch is an American poet and essayist. Her poems have appeared widely, in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and in the collections Nameless Boy, In America and others. She also wrote the “Life in Transition” blog at The American Scholar. Her honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and The New School, where she served as the Grace Paley Teaching Fellow. For twenty-one years Goetsch was a New York City public school teacher, at Stuyvesant High School and at Passages Academy in the Bronx, where she ran a creative writing program for incarcerated teens.
Thomas Peele is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter and writer and a continuing lecturer at UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. He’s won more than 75 reporting and writing awards over a 38-year career in newspapers and non-profit journalism. His 2012 book Killing the Messenger was called “a masterpiece of contemporary historical narrative.” Peele’s work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, The Guardian US, Columbia Journalism Review, Newsday, California Lawyer and many other publications.
Diana Goetsch photo courtesy of Tyler Foltz; Thomas Peele photo courtesy of the publisher