Title: GOING TO TRINIDAD
Subtitle: A DOCTOR, A COLORADO TOWN, and STORIES FROM AN UNLIKELY GENDER CROSSROADS
Author: MARTIN J. SMITH
Genre: NON-FICTION, LGBTQIA2S, SOCIAL ISSUES
Length: 248 PAGES
Publisher: BOWER HOUSE
Received From: NETGALLEY
Release Date: APRIL 15, 2021
ISBN: 9781917895101 (Hardcover)
Price: $27.99 USD (Hardcover)
Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
For more than four decades, between 1969 and 2010, the remote former mining town of Trinidad, Colorado was the unlikely crossroads for approximately six thousand medical pilgrims who came looking for relief from the pain of gender dysphoria. The surgical skill and nonjudgmental compassion of surgeons Stanley Biber and his transgender protege Marci Bowers not only made the phrase “GOING TO TRINIDAD” a euphemism for gender confirmation surgery in the worldwide transgender community, but also turned the small outpost near the New Mexico border into what The New York Times once called “the sex-change capital of the world.”
The full story of that nearly forgotten chapter in gender and medical history has never been told―until now.
Award-winning writer Martin J. Smith spent two years researching not only the stories of Trinidad, Biber, and Bowers, but also tracking the lives of many transgender men and women who sought their services. The result is “Going to Trinidad,” which focuses on the complicated pre- and post-surgery lives of two Biber patients―Claudine Griggs and Walt Heyer―who experienced very different outcomes. Through them, Smith takes readers deep into the often-mystifying world of gender, genitalia, and sexuality, and chronicles a fascinating segment of the human species that’s often misunderstood by those for whom gender remains a mostly binary male-or-female equation.
The stories of Trinidad’s surgeons and transgender pilgrims provide an important opportunity to better understand the millions of complex individuals whose personal struggle is complicated by today’s quicksand of cultural pressures and prejudices. More than six thousand transgender men and women left Trinidad hoping that hormone therapy and surgical relief was the right prescription for their pain. For most it was, but not for all, and their experiences offer important and timely insights for those struggling to understand this sometimes confounding human condition.
“For generations of transgender people, ‘Trinidad, Colorado’ was code for ‘sex-change capital of the world.’ Martin J. Smith brings this somewhat secret history to a wider audience, in an expansive, entertaining narrative chock full of interesting people and previously untold stories.”
— Susan Stryker, author of Transgender History: The Roots of Today’s Revolution
GOING TO TRINIDAD is an intricately researched history of gender reassignment surgery and the surgical pioneers who, despite the opinions of others, cared deeply about the suffering of those who had to live in the body that felt alien to them. This empathy drove Dr. Stanley Biber to become the go-to, preeminent surgeon for gender reassignment surgery.
Instead of opening his clinic in an urban city, Dr. Biber established his clinic in an unlikely location – a small town in Colorado close to New Mexico that had previously been a hub for the mining industry; that town was named Trinidad.
This book tells the story of two patients who underwent gender reassignment surgery in Trinidad, Colorado. Both had very different experiences. One was thrilled to finally have the inside match the outside whereas the other patient ended up with very different results.
This book is not a “how to guide,” nor is it advocating either for or against the surgery. Instead, it is a work of nonfiction of a snapshot in time. I think this book is important. I have to say that I learned quite a bit about the details of the procedure itself, as well as about the prevailing attitudes at the time.
I found the empathy and compassion of Dr. Biber for his patients inspiring. Dr. Marci Bowers was his transgender protege who has since taken over his medical practice and has moved its location.
Anyone who is interested in, an ally of, or a member themselves of the LGBTQIA2S+ community should read this book.
I am rating it as 5 out of 5 Stars ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ because once I started reading, I was unable to put it down.
You can watch an interview with Dr. Marci Bowers here:
*** Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with a free copy of this book. ***
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Martin J. Smith, a veteran journalist and former senior editor of the Los Angeles Times Magazine, is the author of five crime novels and four previous nonfiction books.
He has won more than fifty newspaper and magazine writing awards, and his novels have been nominated for three of the publishing industry’s most prestigious honors, including the Edgar Award, the Anthony Award, and the Barry Award.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:
LISTEN TO THE AUTHOR SPEAK ON THE PODCAST:
LOST HIGHWAYS: DISPATCHES FROM THE SHADOWS OF THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS:
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