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Bert & Lori: The Autobiography of a Crossdresser
by Miqqi Gilbert Date Added: Sunday 16 March, 2008
This review is from *Archives of Sexual Behavior.* 31:2:221-222.

Michael A. Gilbert, Ph.D.

There are a number of reasons for writing an autobiography. The first and foremost, of course, is that one has led a remarkable life rich with accomplishments and excitement. Another is that one has led an exemplary life or an unusual life. One might even write an autobiography because one has unique and worthwhile insights into what most would consider a perfectly ordinary life. Sadly, none of these apply to ?Bert,? the pseudonymous author of Bert and Lori: The Autobiography of a Crossdresser. In fact, it is very difficult to understand why anyone would imagine the life that ?Bert? describes to be of any interest to anyone at all.

Surely, you ask, completely appalled at my negativism, learning about the life of a typical cross dresser, understanding how he deals with the trials and travails of cross dressing would be of value to students of human behaviour. And, indeed, that may well be true. But this book is not about that. This book is a sort of ?Revenge of the Nerd,? undertaking. It?s real subject matter is not how cross dressing, be it a burden or a joy, shapes and fits into someone?s life; the real subject matter is getting revenge on past loves and explaining in excruciating detail how ?Bert? was right and his first girlfriend, first wife, various other girlfriends, father, brother, and all the rest of you lot were wrong. Trust me, if you dated ?Bert? more then once you?re sure to be indicted in this self-serving diatribe.

?Bert? has little to say about cross dressing, and everything he does say is second hand. You see, ?Bert? has never been cross dressed outside his house or back yard. He has never worn makeup (in fact, I?ll bet he has a beard,) walked a pavement, gotten in or out of a car, or done anything that could be called exploring his cross dressing. He has read books which are quoted and considered at various points in the text. Why we are to assume that ?Bert? knows anything about his subject is never revealed to us. In fact, nothing is ever revealed to us. ?Bert? not only uses a pseudonym, but also disguises his university (we only know that it is a ?major research institution,?) his calling (he says he is in art, but that is not likely,) the identity of everyone he attacks, and the only person he does not attack, his current wife. In other words, this is actually a work of fiction.

There is one and only one worthwhile observation arising out of this book, and that one occurs at the meta-level. What is worthwhile noticing is not ?Bert,? but his abject fear, guilt and shame. His hiding his identity to such an extraordinary degree is witness to his own feelings about his cross dressing and his projection of what others will think. He is obviously convinced that people will study the text to try and figure out who he is and embarrass and humiliate him. That fear governs his life, and illustrates to us just how deeply closeted and craven an innocent fetishistic cross dresser can be.

Fetishism is the brand of cross dressing to which ?Bert? subscribes. He disdains theories that purport to bring a man into closer touch with his ?inner feminine self? and sees his cross dressing in ?girl?s? clothes as basically a sexual drive. This is not surprising given that all ?Bert?s? feminine life takes place in the fantasy world of his imagination and transvestite erotica. There is no avenue for or possibility of socialization and its consequent growth when there is no public life. Going to clubs, becoming involved in meetings, activity in organizations, attendance at residential events leads one inexorably to question and to grow. Learning, for example, that one is never going to be truly beautiful and that that is all right is something many women must accept, and when a cross dresser accepts it he learns something not only about himself, but about being a woman as well.

I am afraid I cannot recommend this book, and cannot even understand how it came to be published. In his brief preface Vern Bullough suggests that ?Bert? is typical of modern day cross dressers. I believe this is untrue. In fact, I think (and hope) that ?Bert? is at an extreme that is increasingly diminishing in numbers, a kind of cross dresser who would never have ventured out to one of Virginia Prince?s clandestine gatherings in the fifties. I believe that ?Bert? is a dying breed who permit internalized guilt and shame to rule their lives and limit their choices. An autobiography of such an individual, especially one whose first agenda is to set the record straight on his previous relationships, is not one from which someone will grow.

As much as it grieves me to write a negative review, this book has (obviously) angered me. Insofar as it purports to represent the autobiography of a cross dresser it places ?Bert?s? transgender activities at the fore of his existence and makes of him a representative. I know numerous cross dressers and am one myself, and none of them is anything as hidden and narrow as ?Bert.? (Yes, of course, if they are as hidden as he I could not know them.) But ?Bert? used his cross dressing to get this book published when he has nothing to say and nothing to offer. This book offers the reader no useful insights into anything other than a prosaic life of anger and guilt.

Rating: 1 of 5 Stars! [1 of 5 Stars!]
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Bert & Lori: The Autobiography of a Crossdresser
This review is from *Archives of Sexual Behavior.* 31:2:221- ..
1 of 5 Stars!
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