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I Am My Own Woman: The Outlaw Life of Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf, Berlin's Most Distinguished Transvestite

Charlotte Von Mahlsdorf

1995, Cleis Press179 Pages

From the Cover

Hailed by Der Spiegel as speaking to "the fate of a whole generation of German homosexuals," I Am My Own Woman is the exquisitely written autobiography of Charlotte von Mahlsdorf, whose lifelong pursuits of sexual liberty and antique furniture offer a unique perspective on European history.  During World War II, von Mahlsdorf murdered his father, dubbed himself Charlotte (after this cross-dressing lesbian aunt's lover) and has lived openly as a transvestite since.  Dressed in high-heeled sandals and a good suit, Charlotte has collected furnishings from the Grunderzeit for half a century:  in the Third Reich, she "rescued" pieces from Jewish deportees; in the German Democratic Republic, she protected "bourgeois cultural assets" from the Stasi.  Now well past sixty, a quietly passionate, steadfast and serene figure, Charlotte shuns makeup, wearing the simplest frocks.  The Grunderzeit Museum - which Charlotte and her friends have defended against assault from skinheads - has become a symbol for the German lesbian and gay community.

More From the Cover

"As a child, Lothar Berfelde loved to wear an apron and polish porcelain.  Given his druthers, he would have chosen to live quietly in the 19th century, perhaps as a housekeeper in a well-appointed home near Berlin.   Instead, his life took a bumpier course. . . . " - Time Magazine

"Like the late-1800s Grunderzeit bric-a-brac she privately collects and passionately dusts in her museum, Charlotte's been smacked and pawed for decades by a gallery of rogues and brutes . . . and she's resisted.  In drag. . . . It is not the transgendered soul that is perverse, but the situation in which it lives . . . " - The Village Voice

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