MOLLY HASKELL / My Brother My Sister
There are roughly 700,000 transgender people in the United States. Feminist film critic Molly Haskell’s sister is one of them. In My Brother My Sister, Haskell gracefully chronicles how Chevey, her younger brother, became Ellen, her younger sister.
Nearing sixty, married with children, Chevey floored his family and friends when he revealed he was transsexual and would begin to live openly as a woman. Despite her longstanding liberal views, Haskell was dumbfounded by Chevey’s proclamation. In My Brother My Sister Haskell recounts the steps in Chevey’s transition, while exploring her own emotional journey, candidly recalling her path from shock and bewilderment after the initial announcement to a place of acceptance, empathy, and love for her sister Ellen. Throughout the book Haskell turns her critic’s eye on herself, but also broadens her lens to include mediations on sexual anomalies in art and mythology; psychoanalytical and scientific research as well as previously published memoirs such as Jan Morris’s classic Conundrum, in order to better understand her complicated reaction to the secret Chevey had kept so well for so long.
Haskell has written a memoir that pulls no punches in its exploration of a controversial, delicate subject. Through Chevey’s transformation into Ellen, Haskell has produced a cultural map of not only her sister’s experience, but of gender roles and transsexualism in a world increasingly governed by notions of individual identity. My Brother My Sister is tender, honest, informed, and at times a humorous must-read for anyone who has ever struggled to discover who they really are.
“Beautiful and pitch perfect. A wonderfully personal story about family and relationships and secrets and evolution and how mysterious we remain even to ourselves and our closest relatives.” -- A. M. Homes, prize-winning author of May We Be Forgiven
Molly Haskell is a nationally recognized feminist film critic and the author of three books of film criticism. She has contributed to many publications, including The New York Times, Esquire, The Nation, and Vogue. She lives in New York City.
Ellen Hampton joins her sister Molly this evening.