The Testosterone Files by Max Wolf Valerio

thetestosteronefiles.jpgWhenever I finish a book, be it a novel, textbook or otherwise, I write my name, the date I finished it, and a short comment about my thoughts on the book inside the front cover. I flew through Max Wolf Valerio’s The Testosterone Files (2006) in about a week, and here is the comment I left:

“WOW and WHOA!”

This pretty much sums up how I felt as I read through this wonderfully written account of Valerio’s transition from female to male. Valerio is a fantastic writer! The scenes in this book jump off the page and transport you right into his thoughts and memories. I had a really hard time putting it down. I was also unable to hold back audible laughter at the humorous moments he describes, and I read about an 1/8 of the book out loud to my GF–she just HAD to hear this stuff!

Now, this book came to me at a very important time in my life and that surely influenced the gripping effect it had on me–the right book at the right time. When I purchased it from Amazon.com, I was 95% certain about wanting hormone therapy. By the time I was 3/4 of the way through, I was 100% convinced that testosterone would be right for me. Simply put, I found myself on so many of this book’s pages. It was an eye popping experience, filled with many “aha!” moments of recognition and familiarity.

Then something really interesting happened… As Valerio transforms from Anita into Max, I found myself getting increasingly uncomfortable with the man he becomes. The raw honesty about his changing perceptions about women, including an increased sexual objectification, and a sometimes explosive sense of masculinity marked by an aggression that I find foreign, brought out feelings of fear in me. This isn’t what I want from testosterone! I don’t want to become a “primitive male”. I don’t want to become macho. My surety about testosterone dipped back to about 98% by the time I’d finished the book.

The fact that The Testosterone Files elicited such an emotional response from me is testament to Valerio’s exquisite writing. I doubt very much that Valerio is a red-blooded, fist pumping, walking expression of pure machismo. In the end, this is one man’s experience and while it sheds light on a typically unlit path of discovery, we all walk that road in our own way. My fear has since dissipated, but I am left with the magnitude of my own looming decision. Wow and whoa! This was an extremely important read for me and I am grateful for Valerio’s wit, intelligence, bravery and honesty. Do yourself a favor guys and read this book!

Learn more about Max Wolf Valerio:

Side note: Somewhere along the line, I read that Valerio studied with the Venerable Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche during the 70s and 80s. Given Valerio’s beer and drug fueled punk lifestyle at this time, this is an aspect of his life I would love to know more about!

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